eMMC vs SD Card: Which is Better?

by Paul | Last Updated: July 5, 2022

Evaluating the Purpose of Each Storage Card. Storage is essential for a lot of devices, especially smart ones. To run efficiently, these devices require data and data needs space to be stored and processed, that is where storage cards and disks come to play. This article will look at two types of storage cards.

eMMC vs SD card

eMMC is a storage card that is available for both mobile devices and laptops while SD cards can be read by laptops but cannot be integrated in them like the eMMC. The eMMC is an integral part of a motherboard in any device while the SD card can be removed anytime. Both have a few similarities and can sometimes serve the same purpose, but they were not manufactured to serve as substitutes. Let us look at each one.

What is an eMMC?

It is a storage card that is attached to the board. eMMC is short for Embedded Multi-Media Card, it has both flash memory and a flash memory controller integrated on the same silicon die. The name embedded means it is fused into the motherboard so it cannot be easily removed. It consists of 3 components – multimedia card interface, flash memory, and flash memory controller.

First used in 2006 as an upgrade of MMC. The MMC was different as it was movable and bigger (physically), this upgrade led to a wider embrace of the eMMC in the market as it offered a wider range of options.

Improved speed, being available for a wide range of devices and built with better technology, this card captured the attention of users and it still does.

It is small, so, it is ideal for a lot of gadgets including small laptops, smart home appliances, smart wearables, smart TVs and smartphones. This card uses NAND technology like SD cards, SSD, and USB flash drives.

This design makes it fast and it improves the overall performance of any given device. It is efficient and has no noise as there are no moving parts

Transferring files is done at a fast rate with a speed of up to 400mb/s and if you see that as small, bear in mind that this is designed for smaller laptops. It is usually used for budget-friendly laptops, so they are cheaper and portable than other types of storage devices (especially SSD) used in a laptop.

It is a nonvolatile card which means it stores data and functions even when your PC is shut down just like the SSD. Although it can be in phones just like an SD card, it is faster as most use SLC or 3D MLC NAND. It does possess similarities with the SSD, but it is weaker.

Functions of an eMMC

A simple way to describe it will be like a permanent SDcard but with a better capacity. On a PC, it frees up the CPU for other tasks by placing data into storage, leaving the CPU available for heavier tasks. There are a few storage capacities options, the most popular sizes are 16GB, 32GB and 64GB.

There is a 512GB and this is a catch but the thing with eMMC is some are produced for consumer use and others are for industrial use. The bigger storage sizes tend to fall in the latter category.

eMMC is a good option if you have external storage or a cloud option as it is too small for heavy laptop activities i.e., anything outside browsing and streaming is not ideal. Although it is used to only store smaller size data, it is a good option for improving your system boot time, this is achieved when you make it the boot drive of your PC.

Another great thing about the design of the eMMC is that it is not easily susceptible to shocks and vibrations just like the SSD.

Drawbacks of eMMC

Everything has its pros and cons, and the eMMC is no different. Obvious cons as you may have observed while reading is the size and its inability to have the SSD speed, asides there are two others we want to highlight.

The first is, although the eMMC can last up to 5 years, with every use it deteriorates so the more you use it, the shorter the lifespan. The second is that it cannot be expanded or upgraded

SD card

SD card is an abbreviation for Secure Digital Card, it is a small storage card that can have a 128TB capacity. It has different variations and they all serve their purpose. This card is removable and can be used to read/write data in phones, cameras, and other compatible devices. Currently, the most common is the MicroSD card

The SD card was launched in 1999 and it has been upgraded overtime to suit the needs of people. The first version had a maximum capacity of 2GB and used the FAT16 system. Then in 2006, the Secure Digital High Capacity card (SDHC) was released with a maximum storage capacity of 32GB and it used the FAT32 file system.

This was succeeded by the secure Digital extended capacity (SDXC), which was released in 2009, with its maximum storage capacity at 2TB and it used the exFAT system.

Still using the exFAT system is the Secure Digital Ultra Capacity (SDUC), which was released in 2018 with a maximum storage capacity of 128TB. SD express was also introduced in the same year, and it supports additional interfaces and higher speeds.

Comparing eMMC to SD card

We established earlier the similarities and differences between the two but let us put them in practical situations. Can an SD card be used to store data on the computer?

Technically it can but because it is detachable and because you are more likely than not to move your laptop, you are at risk of data loss as it has less data security design, and sometimes it just formats, no warning. So, the eMMC wins this round.

Still, on the “out of the blue” formatting issue, this also makes eMMC better storage for your phone. The eMMC is a better option than the SD card in almost any scenario as its restriction in expansion makes the SD card a more practical option for smaller devices like phones.