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Which SSD technology is faster?



  The NVM Express logo.
NVM Express, Inc.

NVMe drives are currently playing a large role in computer memory for a reason. An NVMe solid-state drive (SSD) not only leaves most older SSDs in the dust, but is also lightning fast compared to standard 3.5 and 2.5-inch drives.

NVMe vs. SATA III

Take, for example, the 1

TB Samsung 860 Pro, a 2.5-inch SSD with a maximum sequential read speed of 560 megabytes per second (MB / s). Its successor, the NVMe-based 960 Pro, is more than six times faster with a maximum speed of 3,500 MB / s.

This is because the pre-NVMe drives via SATA III, the third, connect to a PC to revise the ATA serial computer bus interface. NVMe is now the host controller interface for newer, more advanced SSDs.

SATA III and NVMe are the most commonly used terms to distinguish between the old school drives and the new hotness that everyone wants. However, NVMe is not the same technology as SATA III.

We will later examine why we use the terms "SATA III" and "NVMe" to compare the technologies.

What is SATA III?

  SATA III cable
Rosewill

In 2000, SATA was introduced to replace the previous parallel ATA standard. SATA offered connections at higher speeds, which meant significantly improved performance compared to its predecessor. SATA III was introduced eight years later with a maximum transfer rate of 600 MB / s.

SATA III components use a specific type of connector to plug into a laptop and a specific type of cable to connect to a desktop PC motherboard.

Once a drive is connected to the computer system via SATA III, the work is only half done. In order for the drive to actually communicate with the system, it needs a host controller interface. This job belongs to AHCI, which is the most common way for SATA III drives to communicate with a computer system.

For many years, SATA III and AHCI performed admirably, even in the early days of SSDs. However, AHCI has been optimized for high-latency rotating media, not for low-latency non-volatile storage such as SSDs, said a representative from drive manufacturer Kingston.

Solid-state drives became so fast that they finally saturated the SATA III connection. SATA III and AHCI simply could not provide enough bandwidth for increasingly powerful SSDS.

With the expansion of drive speeds and capabilities, a better alternative was sought. Fortunately, it has already been used on PCs.

What is PCIe?

PCIe is another hardware interface. It is best known as the way a graphics card is inserted into a desktop PC, but is also used for sound cards, Thunderbolt expansion cards, and M.2 drives (more on this later).

<img class = "wp-image-322276 size-full" data-pagespeed-lazy-src = "https://www.howtogeek.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/08/ximg_5994a79d22399.jpg. pagespeed.gp + jp + jw + pj + ws + js + rj + rp + rw + ri + cp + md.ic.g_ByszHAq2.jpg "alt =" A Gigabyte motherboard with PCIe slots [19659021] Gigabyte

When you look at a motherboard (see above), you can easily see where the PCIe slots are located, most of which are available in the x16, x8, x4, and x1 variants, and these numbers indicate how many tracks of data transfer are entering The higher the number of tracks, the more data you can move at the same time. For this reason, graphics cards use x16 slots.

In the image above, there is an M.2 slot directly below the top x16 slot .2 slots can use up to four lanes, so they are x4.

The most important PCIe slots in each computer are connected to lanes to achieve the best possible performance The remaining PCIe slots are connected to the chipset. This also supports a fairly fast connection to the CPU, but not as fast as the direct connections.

Two generations of PCIe are currently used: 3.0 (most common) and 4.0. As of mid-2019, PCIe 4.0 was brand new and was only supported by AMD's Ryzen 3000 processors and X570 motherboards. Version 4 is expected to be faster.

However, most components do not yet saturate the maximum bandwidth of PCIe 3.0. Although PCIe 4.0 is impressive, it is not yet necessary for modern computers.

CONNECTION: PCIe 4.0: What's New and Why is It Important?

NVMe over PCIe

PCIe is like SATA III; Both are used to connect individual components to a computer system. Just like SATA III AHCI requires before a hard drive or SSD can communicate with a computer system, PCIe-based drives are based on a host controller called NVMe (Non-Volatile Memory Express).

But why don't we talk about it? SATA III versus PCIe drives or AHCI versus NVMe?

The reason is pretty simple. We have always called drives SATA-based, like SATA, SATA II and SATA III – no surprise.

When drive manufacturers started manufacturing PCIe drives, there was a short time when we talked about PCIe SSDs.

However, the industry had no standards to collect like SATA drives from Case was. Instead, as Western Digital explained, companies used AHCI and built their own drivers and firmware to run these drives.

That was a mess and AHCI was still not good enough. As Kingston explained to us, it was also more difficult for people to use drives that were faster than SATA because they also had to install special drivers instead of a plug-and-play experience.

Eventually the industry recovered the standard that became NVMe and replaced AHCI. The new standard was so much better that it made sense to talk about NVMe. And the rest, as they say, is history.

NVMe was developed with a view to modern, PCIe-based SSDs. NVMe drives can accept far more commands at the same time than mechanical SATA III hard drives or SSDs. Combined with lower latency, NVMe drives make them faster and more responsive.

What do NVMe drives look like?

  A Samsung M.2 SSD
Samsung

If You Buy an NVMe Based Drive Today what you want is an M.2 chewing gum. M.2 describes the form factor of the drive – or for our purposes, what it looks like. M.2 drives typically have up to 1TB of storage, but are small enough to fit between your thumb and forefinger.

M.2 drives are connected to special M.2 PCIe slots that support up to four lanes for data transmission. These drives are usually based on NVMe, but you can also find M.2 drives that use SATA III – just read the packaging carefully.

SATA III-based M.2 drives aren't that common these days, but they do exist. Some popular examples are the WD Blue 3D NAND and the Samsung 860 Evo.

CONNECTION: What is the M.2 expansion slot and how can I use it? [19659009] Should You Dispose of SATA III Drives?

Although NVMe is fantastic, there is still no reason to forego SATA III drives. Despite the limitations of SATA III, it is still a good choice for secondary storage.

Anyone building a new PC, for example, should use an M.2 NVMe drive for their boot drive and primary storage. He could then add a cheaper hard drive or a 2.5-inch SSD with more capacity than secondary storage.

It might be a good idea to run all of your memory over PCIe. However, NVMe drives are currently limited to approximately 2 TB. Higher capacities are also prohibitively expensive. A budget of 1 TB, M.2 NVMe drive typically costs around $ 100 (which costs about 2 TB of high-performance SATA III hard drives).

The prices can of course change if we get an even higher capacity M. 2 drives. Kingston said we could expect to see 4 and 8 TB capacity M.2 drives in early 2021.

Until then, the combination of M.2 with secondary SSDs and hard drives is the best option.

The same idea applies to laptops. If you're buying a new rig, look for one with NVMe flash memory and a 2.5-inch spare bay for a SATA III hard drive or SSD.

However, not all NVMe drives are the same. It's definitely worth reading the reviews on your target drive before you buy one.


If you have a new desktop PC or laptop, it is likely that it has M.2 slots that support NVMe. It is worth upgrading your PC!


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