Sony 64 GB MicroSDXC Card: The Final Failure

The fourth Sony MicroSDXC card went into service in late September 2015 and has now failed after about 60 sessions in my Sony HDR-AS30 Action Camera. This one sported a U3 speed rating and I had hopes that would improve its longevity, but that doesn’t seem to be true.

The defunct Sony card (marked in red to avoid confusion) will join its defunct compadre and the Sandisk Extreme Pro card goes in the camera:

Sony 64 GB MicroSD SR-64UX - failure

Sony 64 GB MicroSD SR-64UX – failure

The 16 bike rides in December added up to 220 GB; call it 13.75 GB/trip. January 2016 shows only three rides and it failed after two February rides: barely 60 rides for a total of 825-ish GB of video data. The three previous Sony cards failed after less than 1 TB of data, putting this one in the same ballpark.

I have no way to measure the actual write speed, but the camera shuts down after recording less than a minute of 1920×1080 @ 60 f/s video. Previous cards worked fine at lower video resolutions and recording speeds; I’ll assume this one behaves similarly. It might make a capacious “disk” for a Raspberry Pi.

When the previous card failed, Sony’s “customer support” decided that there might be something wrong with the camera’s firmware causing it to trash the cards, so there was no point in replacing the card under warranty and I should send the camera in for a checkup. When I pointed out that they’d strung me along for a year, until the camera was out of warranty, without mentioning even the possibility that the camera might be at fault and asked whether they’d pick up the $100+ bill for having the camera “examined”, the Nice Man said Level 2 would get back to me after “48 working hours”. When prodded, he agreed that “48 working hours” equaled “6 working days” and didn’t include weekends; when we had that settled, I knew they had no further interest in this matter.

Sony hasn’t called back and, by now, I don’t expect they ever will. It’s not worth my time to pursue this any further, but if you’re wondering how well Sony MicroSD cards work in Sony cameras and how well they support the failures, now you know.

So, starting with this riding season, we’ll see how long a Sandisk Extreme Pro card survives…

 

 

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  1. #1 by madbodger on 2016-02-22 - 09:50

    While I understand that flash memory wears out, that’s ridiculous. Quoted life is generally on the order of 100k writes (more for SLC, but I guarantee these aren’t SLC flash), and just pouring video into a card shouldn’t do a lot of repeated writes, except for the FAT directory area, but the card’s wear-levelling software should move that around. I know the low-end vendors generally use low-quality parts with short lifetimes, insufficient spare capacity to swap out bad pages, and sub-optimal control algorithms, but I’d expect Sony to offer bettery parts than that (I don’t know if Sony makes their own flash or just rebrands somebody else’s). Genuine SanDisk parts will hopefully fare better.

    [Ed: The missing link is http://techreport.com/review/27909/the-ssd-endurance-experiment-theyre-all-dead]

    • #2 by Ed on 2016-02-22 - 14:58

      From what I can tell, Sony grudgingly sells those cards because they must offer something with a Sony label to go along with their cameras, not because they have anything unique to offer.

      Having all four Sony cards fail with less than 1 TB of large-block writes apiece says that Something Is Wrong. At least some SD cards don’t have a wear-leveling controller, but I find that hard to believe in a card with a Genuine Sony logo.

      Because the failure involves timing, rather than actual hard errors, the wear leveling algorithm may be getting in the way of data transfers. Alas, “Hold on, I’m busy moving a block!” doesn’t work with constant-bit-rate video pouring from the camera.

      • #3 by madbodger on 2016-02-22 - 20:14

        They may still be piqued that people didn’t get onto their proprietary “memory stick” bandwagon. The U3 speed rating is “supposed” to include enough onboard CPU, RAM, flash capacity and bandwidth to move blocks on the fly and keep up. However, it’s cheaper to only provide that speed when everything’s new and working well.

    • #4 by Ed on 2016-02-22 - 14:59

      Just drop the bare URL in place and I’ll fix it up on the fly… I’ve about had it with the way WordPress handles anything other than flat text. [heavy sigh]

  2. #5 by Joel on 2016-02-22 - 11:04

    Have to agree with madbodger, from the use you describe you should have barely touched the lifespan of a high quality flash card. For what Sony charges for their media, one would hope that it’s high(er) quality.

    Perhaps some comments to Tom’s Hardware or one of the other mainstream blogs might get the attention of Sony and lead to an offer of actually fixing (or at least, looking at) your camera. Playing the delay game and then dropping you like a hot potato ain’t good for the reputation once the word gets out.

  3. #6 by Red County Pete on 2016-02-22 - 11:36

    Sounds all too familiar. We just got aluminum-framed plexiglas sunroom windows to replace the 2004 vintage vinyl ones. Installed 2 of 4, one is OK, but the other 3 already self-destructed. Looks like the window shop does far better with glass and screening than the high-tempco plastic. At least I can use the plastic in shop-made PVC frames. Should have thought of that first. [wince] (At least the shop offered to redo the windows, but the aluminum framing is just the wrong material for this application.)

    Note to self: in doing tax worksheets, 1) build a spreadsheet, 2) annotate the [un|under]documented lines, 3) add sanity checks for the logic tests, and 4) Do not attempt this Before Coffee. I’ve avoided the IRS support call center…

    I see thumb drives are running below $1.00/GB. I need to set up a couple for the new Forester’s MP3 reader before the next long roadtrip. I did CD-ROMs last trip, but the USB slot is too tempting.

    • #7 by Ed on 2016-02-22 - 15:04

      Jamming a fat drive into the USB jack works surprisingly well, although the Forester isn’t a pleasant listening room: too much road noise. Paying more attention to ID3 tagging than I did would probably produce a much better display on the dashboard. Drive on!

      • #8 by Red County Pete on 2016-02-22 - 19:53

        My mechanically altered ears (stapedectomy specials) Just Don’t Care. I think (hard to tell with studded tires) that the ’16 is a quieter Forester than our ’12. We checked out an Outback, but neither Julie or I really liked it, especially the electric “hand” brake.

        • #9 by Ed on 2016-02-22 - 20:31

          It bothers Mary more than me, but it’s definitely louder than the Sienna. When I’m alone, I can crank up the volume until the road noise Goes Away; that’s not a universally approved solution …

  4. #10 by madbodger on 2016-02-22 - 20:16

    There’s also a good writeup here on cheapo memory cards, and how to use Linux to read off the manufacturer data easily. It might be illuminating to find out who “really” made them. http://www.bunniestudios.com/blog/?page_id=1022

  5. #11 by bonnev659 on 2016-04-02 - 18:49

    any update on this? I am looking at another card for my next cam I am getting. thanks

    • #12 by Ed on 2016-04-02 - 20:09

      Nothing to update; Sony cards are dead to me …

      • #13 by bonnev659 on 2016-04-02 - 20:11

        i am looking at sandisk and samsung hopefully they are better…