Until now, SanDisk's 95 MB/s Extreme SD cards ruled the market in terms of speed. That position has been usurped by a new card from Toshiba, and boy, is it fast. The Toshiba Exceria Pro is rated at 260 MB/s reads and 240 MB/s writes, which is faster than most USB 3.0 thumb drives and into low-end SSD territory. And way, way faster than many SD cards, which write at a measly 10 MB/s or so.
The Exceria Pro are actually the first UHS-II, or Ultra High Speed II, cards, that we've seen. UHS-II maxes out at a theoretical top-end transfer speed of 312MB/s. Unfortunately, photographers will have to wait awhile to test out the Exceria Pros--Toshiba isn't releasing the cards until October. By fall, we may be seeing other memory manufacturers introducing UHS-II cards of their own.
Toshiba also hasn't announced a price for the Exceria Pro cards, but they most definitely will not be cheap. The cards will be available in 16GB and 32GB sizes, but a couple cheaper cards are coming along for the ride with the same 260 MB/s reads but only 120 MB/s write speeds. These cards drop the Pro label--just plain old Exceria--and come in 32GB and 64GB capacities.The slower (and hopefully much cheaper) Exceria cards will go on sale in November.
Faster cards are most definitely a good thing, but most of that speed may be wasted on the market's current batch of cameras. As we've written in the past, SD card speeds are often harshly limited by the SD card controllers of the devices they're used in. If many cameras and SD card readers already struggle to saturate the maximum speeds of cards that read/write at less than 100 MB/s, the rest of the industry may have some catching up to do to make use of the Exceria Pro's newfound speed.