Kioxia, the company formerly known as Toshiba, has started releasing a new storage device based on a new form factor, XFMEXPRESS, which aims to bring you the best of both SSD and microSD worlds.
The XT2 is a removable PCIe-attached NVMe storage device that, according to Kioxia’s marketing literature, “will enhance next-generation mobile and embedded apps.”
The technology – which has been in the works for three years – is removable like a microSD card, with dimensions (18 x 14 x 1.4 mm) slightly larger than the last one (14 x 11 x 1 mm). Its connector is similar to what smartphones use for nano SIM cards, requiring the cover to be slid to the side to access the card.
A company spokesperson said Pro that the XT2 will be competitively priced with other SSD form factors of similar performance and will be offered in capacities ranging from 128GB to 1TB. As for speeds, since it comes with PCIe Gen 4 x 2 lanes, sequential reads and writes should exceed 2500Mbps and 650Mbps, respectively.
A rival to the microSD?
Don’t expect XFMExpress to replace microSD anytime soon, even though demand for the small cards has taken a downward trajectory as mainstream smartphones abandon removable storage altogether.
There’s also the conundrum associated with the rival format SD Express, which is also a PCIe NVMe standard, which can reach up to 4GBps, offers advanced security features, and is backed by the SD membership.
Which brings us to the question of whether the market needs another new form factor, when the existing incumbent benefits from greater market support, better performance, minimal retrofit, and improved security. We asked Kioxia this question and will update the article when we receive an answer.
As for use cases that require high performance and high capacity storage, there are plenty (e.g. prosumer cameras, IoT/edge servers, etc.), but they are likely to be niche and unlikely to sustain a market where rival formats exist.