The format of future memory cards, SDXC, just announced by the SD Card Association — of which Panasonic is a founding member — allows data storage in capacities between 32GB and 2TB.
That's 2 terabytes, folks: about as much storage in one thumbnail-sized device as I have in every computer and external hard drive in my home added together. That's also as much data that's on forty 50GB double-layer Blu-ray discs. Panasonic notes as much in its press release — is the company teasing the potential demise of Blu-ray before the format even properly lifts off? The spin goes something like: SDXC will allow "consumers to conveniently store more data, helping them to experience a true High Definition digital lifestyle."
And the absolutely gargantuan storage capacity of SDXC — courtesy of Microsoft's exFAT file system—isn't all: the new architecture should enable read/write speeds of 300 megabytes per second. That's ten times faster than Sandisk's current high-end Extreme III SD card.
Memory cards of that size, if priced correctly, may change the way we think about data as consumers: you may chose to keep every photo or video you ever take, since storage capacity and even the size taken up by the memory sticks themselves simply wouldn't be a problem. Admittedly that's with current tech levels — if we all start shooting HD video and 41-megapixel still photos then the data will simply expand to fit the space available.
No pricing or timing is set out as yet—at least initially you can expect to pay similarly gargantuan prices for these things. But Panasonic has at least said it'll be releasing a 64GB card as soon as possible.