What is UFS? The storage tech explained
You might have seen UFS mentioned as a benefit in top-end smartphones, but what does it actually mean and how can you make use of it?
While we’re all familiar with the concept of data storage, there are different types of digital storage with various strengths and weaknesses. Even when it comes to UFS, otherwise known as Universal Flash Storage, there are different versions of UFS with different read/write speeds that could affect the experience on offer.
So, the question is, what is UFS and where does it fit into the broader digital storage market?
What is UFS?
UFS stands for Universal Flash Storage, and it is a standard set by JEDEC (the Joint Electron Device Engineering Council). This body defines it as follows: “UFS is an open standard, high-performance interface designed for use in applications where power consumption needs to be minimized, including mobile systems such as smartphones and tablets as well as automotive applications. Its high-speed serial interface and optimized protocol enable significant improvements in throughput and system performance.”
While this is not a highly technical definition, it does point to the two underlying principles of the system; faster speeds, and higher efficiency.
What’s the latest version of UFS storage?
There are several generations of UFS embedded storage, with UFS 4.0 being the most recent iteration. Though it was announced in August 2022, it only started to appear in flagship smartphones in 2023 with the likes of the Samsung Galaxy S23 and OnePlus 11.
Samsung describes this as being capable of delivering “double the speed of the previous generation and 45% better efficiency.” Digital Trends cites the read speeds as being up to 4200MB/s, while sequential write speeds can go up to 2800MB/s. The data is also better protected from attacks, apparently by 1.8 times, thanks to its Advanced Replay Protected Memory Block.
If you don’t get one of the latest flagships, you’ll likely find the more common UFS 3.1 storage within your smartphone. It’s not quite as fast as UFS 4.0, but it offers up to 850MB/s for 128GB storage or a faster 1,200MB/s for 256GB and 512GB variants.
The benefits of UFS mean that it is always worth checking which generation of UFS storage is supported by your smartphone, since you can expect fast boot-up times, shorter app loading times, and lower power consumption with the later iterations of this storage standard.
On top of that, there is also a UFS Card storage standard, but these removable memory cards are a rarer sight compared to the more common microSD cards.