Why There’s No Substitute for High Endurance Storage for Smart Security

When designing a security solution, it’s important to utilize a commercial-grade — not consumer-grade — storage solution that’s designed for smart video.

Today’s smart security solutions are providing more sophisticated capabilities than ever before. Video analytics with AI-enabled cameras for new, smarter ways to use video data in smart cities, smart transportation, smart retail and more, place higher demands on storage.

Use cases such as heat maps in retail stores or on-camera pattern matching require 24×7 uptime, endurance and longevity from storage.

Security solution architects and integrators responsible for implementing smart security systems want them to run as reliably as possible, with minimal disruption and servicing. When designing a security solution, it’s important to utilize a commercial-grade — not consumer-grade — storage solution that’s designed for smart video.

MicroSD cards used in security cameras must have the performance to record, the capacity to store security video, and the endurance to operate under extreme environmental and other operational conditions that are unique to security use cases.

Top Storage Considerations for Smart Security

 There are three major aspects of security camera recording that must be considered: 

  1. Users expect security cameras to record 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. While some cameras might be configured to record only upon the detection of motion activity, the storage device needs to be designed for continuously recording around the clock.
  1. Security cameras are usually installed in inaccessible locations, such as the outside of buildings, in ceiling pods, or at the top of poles. Users do not typically remove the cards to download the content, erase and then reuse the cards. The storage devices need to be designed to run for extended periods without removal and be able to tolerate a wide range of environmental conditions. Consumer cards are not designed to withstand these elements.
  1. If a card reaches its full capacity, the recording of the security video wraps to the beginning of the card, erasing and overwriting the previously stored footage. Since the card must run for an extended time before replacement, the card should be able to handle many more writes over a particular span of time than it would for consumer applications.

A card designed for consumer applications will often prove inadequate given these considerations. Security cameras require cards that are designed for continuous 24/7 recording, can operate in a wide range of environmental conditions for an extended time, and do not have to be constantly removed.

Security cameras require a storage device that can undergo multiple and extensive write cycles, more so than consumer-grade cards. The cards must be engineered with high endurance.

Endurance Above All

There are storage cards touting performance, endurance and cost. In the case of smart security, the highest priority should be endurance.

Low cost cards do not typically specify endurance because the endurance is likely very low. This should be a red flag! Low cost cards may only allow anywhere from 200 P/E cycles, to as low as 10 P/E cycles, before the card fails.

This is sufficient for consumer use cases such as point-and-shoot or action cameras because a consumer can always purchase another card. But it can prove risky if the card is used in applications that need high endurance. By contrast, high endurance cards usually specify the number of supported P/E cycles, such as 1,000 P/E cycles or 2,000 P/E cycles.

High performance cards do not necessarily have high endurance, because there are not many use cases that require both high performance and high endurance. High performance cards do not typically have high endurance because the card rarely becomes so completely full that it requires high endurance.

These cards are sufficient for consumers and prosumers who work with high-performance DSLRs and camcorders. Professional photographers often have multiple cards on hand so that if one reaches capacity, it is swapped out with a new card to continue recording.

High endurance cards are designed for applications that require continuous uninterrupted operation. They are particularly valuable in applications where the card is constantly rewritten, and where removal/replacement of the card incurs a substantial service cost. High endurance cards typically have higher environmental robustness, such as wider temperature and humidity tolerance.

Industrial applications and smart security with AI are typical use cases for high endurance cards, where such applications value longevity versus high performance. For example, surveillance video is typically not as bandwidth intensive as consumer video, which usually generates higher bit rates due to high resolution, high frame rates, stereo sound, and much higher scene activity; however, video surveillance cameras constantly write and rewrite cards, and security cameras are not as accessible to replace the cards on a regular basis.

High Endurance MicroSD Cards Deliver Value 

Using high endurance cards in smart security cameras reduces the need to constantly replace cards as they approach their end-of-life, thereby saving time and money in the servicing of smart security systems.

In addition, high-endurance cards provide peace of mind by running longer and more reliably. Card health monitors featured in some high-endurance cards allow even great ability to monitor and proactively manage storage and schedule maintenance when it’s most convenient to the end customer.

High endurance cards are highly recommended for use in all smart security camera devices. While consumer-grade cards may cost less, there would be dangerous sacrifices in terms of uptime, endurance, and longevity. Smart security customers need storage solutions, including embedded flash devices, removable cards, HDDs and SSDs specifically designed for smart video.


Brian Mallari is a Director of Product Marketing for surveillance products at Western Digital Corp.

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