What is NVMe memory and what are its features?

The high speed of NVMe SSDs has made them very popular, but what is the difference between them and SATA SSDs?

NVMe stands for non-volatile memory express is a communication interface for SSDs developed by a consortium of companies such as Intel, Samsung, SanDisk, Dell and Sigit; this protocol actually uses bus Enables PCIe for SSDs. NVM Express enables host software and hardware to utilize maximum parallelism in modern SSDs.

NVMe has long been considered an unnecessary but widely used option in the information storage industry. But now that capability has become an important item, and buyers of new computers are better off paying attention to it. If you have just purchased a computer and want to speed it up, you can achieve your goal by using this technology.

Using the NVMe protocol improves the read / write speed of I / O; it also reduces the latency dramatically. The improved process of checking multiple rows of commands (especially long commands) also greatly improves memory speed and performance in this type of technology. NVMe is an alternative to SCSI and ATA, with the goal of maximizing memory capacity.

nvme vs sata

NAND, their controls, and their structure allowed SSDs to reach high speeds, but they remained unused until there was a process and port for high speeds. NVMe, developed based on PCIe, has actually removed the barriers to data transfer. In fact, due to the use of old interfaces, many SSDs cannot reach their maximum capacity for data exchange speeds, and the new standard can further increase the gap between these types of memory and old mechanical memory.

Brief History

The first details and news about the new standard of memory became Media Year 2. The technical development of the NVMe interface began in year 2, with more than five companies led by Intel’s Huber Huffman advancing the development process. March 8, version 2.3 was released. Version 2.3 added SSD support with multiple PCIe ports to the previous version.

The Version 2.3 on November 6 added improvements such as live support for more streamlined updates and better usage. Version 2.3, which we are currently seeing in memory, was released on June 6, which brings clean-up of the lower level blocks on NAND and new formats for NVMe memory.

nvme express

Simulation improvements also defined how to use shared storage when there was a physical and virtual controller. Initial information from version 2.3 was also released on June 6, but no product has yet been released.

How does NVMe work?

NVMe maps the I / O commands and their responses to shared memory on the PCIe interface on the host computer. This interface supports parallel I / O and multi-core processors to achieve high throughput and reduce bottlenecks.

NVMe acts as the host computer writes an I / O command line and executes the NVMe controller by removing the I / O rows and sends the executed commands back to the host.

How does NVMe work?

By allocating more paths to process an I / O request than SCSI and ATA, the NVMe needs to be reduced to the CPU. NVMe supports 7000 commands in a single message row and 2 I / O rows. For comparison, it should be noted that the SAS-based device supports a maximum of 2 commands and one SATA memory at most 1 command per row.

The main problem is memory!

The advances of processor and graphics card manufacturers in the last decade cannot be denied, but the main reason for the rise of laptops in current generations is SSDs . For many years, storage slowdowns have been one of the main causes of PC slowdowns, and increasing the number of processor cores or frequency of the processor has not helped make systems faster. Mechanical memories were wasting the potential of processors and graphics cards, and their speed of rotation was not effective either. Eventually SSDs were able to fill the gap created between CPU power and memory speed. Now, with all the powerful systems including computers and laptops for gaming , video editing and graphic content production, we’re seeing a new kind of memory.


For example,

if you’ve bought a MacBook Pro in the past two years, you’ll find that the device has grown significantly faster than its predecessors. Applications are opened in a blink of an eye and files are quickly stored on the device. The device also turns on and off in just a few seconds. All of the above is due to the use of NVMe SSDs in recent generations of MacBook Pro, which can read and write information up to 3 times faster than the SATA SSDs used in previous generations.

Data path detection has been up to 5x faster than before. However, their SATA SSDs are several times faster than HDD variants, and all of these figures can be indicative of the high speed of NVMe-based memory. The table below shows a comparison between the performance of the three main technologies in the information storage industry.

The average speed obtainable in mechanical memory is about 1MB / s, while this for SATA SSDs is 2MB / s and for NVMe SSDs is more than 1GB / s. It is clear that many users do not need this speed, and even professional users do not achieve the maximum speed potential in NVMe standard in everyday use, but increasing this amount can dramatically improve the performance of computers.

Samsung 970 Pro / Samsung ۹۷۰ Pro

The results you see in the table below clearly indicate the difference between the two NVMe types in different classes, the SATA and NVMe differences, and the difference between the hard drives and the SSDs:

* All benchmarks listed in this table 

As you can see, the NVMe SSDs were much faster in the zoom tests than the SATA ones. The Samsung 970 Pro is an upgraded NVMe memory and the ADATA XPG SX6000 Lite is an economical NVMe memory and although they both use NVMe 1.3, there is a huge difference in speed. Of course there may be products of all three types of memory that perform better or lower than the stated level, but the values ​​listed in the tables above are considered average.

Storage Memory / Read Speed ​​(Write Information) Kind of Order in MB / s 4KB Random Single IOPS
Samsung 970 Pro NVMe SSD ۲۷۹۵ (۲۰۸۷) ۱۴۰۱۴ (۴۱۰۷۸)
Lexar NS200 SATA SSD ۵۲۳ (۴۷۸) ۸۵۷۷ (۲۴۸۲۰)
Samsung 970 Evo Plus NVMe SSD ۲۷۰۶ (۲۴۴۷) ۱۵۰۸۲ (۴۱۷۳۶)
ٰ Western Digital WD10EZEX HDD 7200 RPM 1/3 (0.8) ۵۹ (۳۱۴)

* All benchmarks listed in this table are executed by Zoomit.

Undoubtedly, if a graph of the amount of memory progressed in the last five years can undermine advances in the processing of personal computers. But lower speeds have not eliminated older generations, including HDD . These types of memories are still a better option for storing large amounts of data because they are much less expensive due to SSDs, and in larger volumes, this distance is noticeable. But it is best to place operating systems, applications, and data on NVMe SSDs or if not on SATA SSDs to increase system speed.

Samsung 970 Pro / Samsung ۹۷۰ Pro

Although the SATA port has been able to reach 8 GB / s in its version 2.3,

most of the commercial ports on PCs do not exceed the nominal capacity of 5 GB / s and in actual performance they can barely reach 1 MB / s.

 Even version 4.0 of the technology is much slower than the potential of today’s SSDs, especially if used in RAID configuration.

The next step was the use of PCI Express technology by many manufacturers,

which by default were available on computers for transferring graphics card data. The technology from the third generation onwards provides the ability to use multiple paths (lanes) up to a maximum of 2 numbers, each of which can carry about 1 GB (exactly 1 MB) of data per second.

PCIe is also know to be a major contributor to the emergence of the Thunderbolt interface. This interface is now the primary option for connecting external gaming cards to computers.

NVMe’s external caches also use the said interface, which makes them almost identical to internal caches. Many users now realize how effective Intel has been in preventing Thunderbolt from being forgotten.

Although the advent of PCIe dates back to several years before the emergence of the NVMe standard, its use for storing information has not been common.

Previous protocols used in the field, such as SCSI and AHCI, were all developed during the heyday of mechanical memory and were therefore not compatible with the advanced features of SSDs.


NVMe was able to eliminate the limitations of previous standards by offering many capabilities, including reducing the delay in executing commands and increasing their execution capacity by up to 4,000.

nvme vs sata m.2

The capability mentioned in SSDs is very important because

the data in this type of products is widely stored in storage units,

while the process is done in a continuous and circular mechanical memory. The NVMe standard is still evolving and newer generations are coming to market. Version 4.0 of this protocol provides the usability of the computer’s memory as a cache .

NVMe memory formats

M.2: It is the most common form factor for NVMe memory,

with up to four lines of PCIe 3.0 or PCIe 4.0 connectors.

U.2: This form factor is also know as SFF-8639 and uses up to 1 PCIe max. Such form factor can be found mostly on computer servers.

U.3: Developed based on U.2 specifications and uses SFF-8639 connector. A controller can be used to combine SAS, SATA and NVMe. U.3 caches are compatible with U.2 but U.2 cache cannot be used in U.3 context.

AIC: Almost all of the original NVMe caches are HHHL AIC

or FHHL AIC type and uses PCIe 2.0 and PCIe 3.0 interface. A HHHL AIC memory connects to the PCIe server port.

How to use an NVMe memory?

Adding such memory to a computer without NVMe boot support would be pointless unless you are a gamer

It is possible to add an NVMe-type memory to PCIe ports by purchasing an adapter. All popular and important operating systems provide dedicated drivers to do so, and regardless of your computer’s age, speed will undoubtedly increase. But it’s not going to be that simple. To maximize the power of an NVMe SSD, you need to have your operating system installed.

Memory booting requires the BIOS to support the standard used by memory. Most bios on older computers do not support such a feature, and it does not appear that the makers intend to provide an update to add that capability.

So it would be pointless to add such a memory to a computer without NVMe boot support unless you are a gamer and install your games on that memory or from heavy processing software with high processing needs such as high quality video editing (such as 2160p). ).

Samsung 970 Pro / Samsung ۹۷۰ Pro

Most NVMe SSDs on the market use the M.2 form factor. But having an M.2 port doesn’t mean your computer supports the standard.

This port is designed to support USB 3.0 alongside SATA and PCIe, but its early generations only support SATA, so it is advisable to read your motherboard information or buy compatibility online before purchasing new memory.

Make sure it meets the NVMe standard. Also note that the MSATA port, which is a previous generation M.2, is very similar but does not support said functionality.


The appearance of a port cannot support PCIe and NVMe, but it does seem to differentiate between PCIe x2 and PCIe x4 ports, and only the latter can support said standards. The first prototype uses a B-shaped key that separates one pin or junction. The key term is referred to as port bumps on memory troughs.

The PCIe x4 port uses an M-shaped key that, in addition to the previous bump, has another bump on the opposite side that separates the five connecting pins from the others. There is no general rule for these ports, but most B-key ports only use the SATA standard.

Nowadays, both B and M keys are common ports that can be used by all standards. Sometimes referred to as ports, two sockets and three sockets are also referred to.

If your port is older then you should use a PCIe M.2 $ 2 converter. There are products on the market like Plextor’s M9Pe that will be usable only after being ported and no additional action is required to launch them.

Also, as a simple user, you should avoid buying the 2.0-inch version of NVMe memory because they require the SFF-8639 interface designed for small memory.

This interface features 2 PCIe 3rd-generation connectors, along with 2 SATA ports and several side channels that utilize the 1.5V and 8V ports to power.

Of course,

this interface is only reachable in high-end enterprise memory and systems. If you are a holder of rare PCs with a Thunderbolt port (like many Asus motherboards), you can use this port to connect NVMe memory to your device, which gives the user a lot of power.

Not all NVMs are the same

In general, any kind of NVMe memory can make your computer faster, but not all of them are alike. For example, Samsung’s 970 Pro memory can process data at speeds of 1 GB / s and write data at 1.2 GB / s, while these values ​​for Toshiba’s RC100, respectively, equals to 1.2 GB / s. And 2 MB / s. The difference between different models can be even more noticeable when the amount of written data is greater than the cache volume. Various factors such as the type of controller, the number and type of NAND units and the number of PCIe paths affect memory performance. Here are some of the differences and explanations for some of the following:

  • NVMe SSDs have PCIe x4 connectivity faster than PCIe x2 variants.
  • Increasing the number of NAND chips increases the number of paths and units that the controller uses to distribute and store information. For this reason, lower-capacity memories are usually slower than larger ones, even if they are of the same model.
  • The type of NAND chips used in memory also affects its speed. The SLC chips are faster then the MLC and TLC respectively and eventually the QLC is the slowest.

samsung 970 evo plus

Finally, NVMe SSDs can be used for a long time on your computer or laptop,

and you will no longer need to replace parts or devices unless you are a gamer or processor. The high speed of this type of memory allows you to make the most of your computer’s other components, including the processor and graphics card.

Frequently Asked Questions

۱. How fast do NVMe 1.3-based caches reach?

It all depends on the number of PCIe lines and the type of memory. NVMe-type SSDs currently carry a maximum of 4 lines, so in PCIe 3.0 technology the maximum rated speed is 1 GB / s, but in practical terms, this speed is lower.

۲. Are M.2 and NVMe Memory the Same?

No, these two categories are quite different. NVMe is a data transfer interface that can be compared to SATA, but M.2 is a form factor that accommodates both SATA and NVMe memory.

۳. Do all laptops support NVMe-based memory?

No, a large percentage of laptops do not have a port for connecting NVMe memory,

and some of them are not modifiable if memory is available (such as new MacBooks),

so be sure to support M.2 before and after purchasing this type of memory for your laptop. Note the NVMe version.

۴. Are PCIe 4.0-based memory available in the market?

Some companies have launched PCIe 4.0-based products,

but due to the limitations of the motherboards and their newness, we are not yet seeing much of this memory.

۵. Couldn’t your computer’s SSD memory port be of type x4?

Yes. Some motherboards have x2 (dual-line) M.2 memory ports due to their limitations,

which means that your data transfer rate will probably be half the amount announced by companies or benchmarks.

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