Nonvolatile Memory Express (NVMe)

What is NVMe (Non-Volatile Memory Express)?

NVMe refers to a memory host controller specification of a logical and open device interface to access non-volatile storage media. This is a transport and storage access protocol designed for next-gen SSDs.

It is an alternative to ATA and SCSI standard that offers faster access, higher IOPS and reduced latency by using a PCI Express bus.

Understanding NVMe (Non-Volatile Memory Express)

What is NVMe

NVMe or Non-Volatile Memory Express is a storage protocol. The primary objective of it is to connect the memory subsystem to the host.

However, it is just not that. It is a protocol that:

This is a comparatively new standard that comes with a lot of new features.

Most importantly, it is designed to connect the NAND SSDs persistently and other NVM media to the CPU directly using a PCIe interface.

The architecture and functionality of the protocol is heavily dependent on the high-speed PCI Express lanes.

These lanes, especially the ones like the PCIe Gen 3.0 link, can reach up to a speed which is more than double the standard SATA interface.

The NVMe speeds and output are different and can be classified into different rates.

This categorization is done on different attributes and working process of the NVMe. For example:

It is the architecture of the NVMe that determines the speed.

It also reduces the latency rates to make sure that it stays under 20 microseconds constantly, and, for some, even half of that rate.

All these numbers are very impressive as per the legacy standard as well as the NVMe form factors.

This ensures that the specs are distributed through the U.2 connector in standard size PCI Express expansion cards, or in a form factor that is 2.5” in size and has a four-lane PCIe interface.

This U.2 connector is a popular choice due to several good reasons such as:

As for the U.2 drives, it has multiple lanes that enhance its performance. For example, there are:

All these lanes provide a better and broader support to the interface, especially in the 2.5” form factor.

On the other hand, the NVMe usage in the consumer level is also growing. Here the mini-board M.2 specifications are used for different form factors such as:

The good thing about the M.2 boards is that these are available in different sizes which ensures a smaller PCIe footprint if you use the smallest board.

Depending on the boards selected, the storage capacity on the NVMe disks can be anywhere between 450 GB at the consumer level usage, and up to 11 TB or more for use by the data centers.

The specific features that enhances the speed of the NVMe are:

Read Also:  What is Kilobyte? Uses, Examples & More

There are also a few added features in the NVMe structure that are more advanced and support security container commands, command enhancements, and power management. There is also a host memory buffer that helps in managing the NVMe of the client and mobile.

What Are the Benefits of NVMe?

There are lots of benefits of NVMe storage and the most significant of all is that it saves a lot of time.

Time is essential for the enterprise data centers as that determines and affects the productivity directly. Apart from that, the list of benefits includes:

When it comes to the latest NVMe over Fabrics or NVMe-oF, it will provide more efficient and faster transfer of data between the servers and the storage systems.

The NVMe-oF will enhance the latency benefits and performance of the NVMe.

This benefit will be enjoyed irrespective of the type of network fabric and include:

The NVMe will provide higher IOPs from the data fabric to the assembly of storage.

This is a significant benefit to the financial services, life science industry and the energy companies. This is how:

Read Also:  What is Virtual Memory? Types, Uses & More

Therefore, in spite of the increase in cost, using NVMe storage will provide a favorable return on investment.

Questions & Answers:

What does NVMe stand for?

NVMe stands for Non-Volatile Memory Express. This is the latest standard for high speed storage media. This new protocol brings in several significant advantages while accessing storage media.

Better than the other legacy protocols, the NVMe protocol is very important for all those businesses that are typically data-driven.

What is NVMe ready?

NVMe ready means it will help in dealing with the tail latency successfully. It is also said ready in the sense that the standard NVMe is poised to make a giant leap from its standard solution to NVMe-over-Fabrics or NVMe-oF solutions.

These solutions typically transport data through fiber channels and ensure that the traffic performs well within its tolerable limits.

Is NVMe and M.2 the same thing?

Certainly not. NVMe is the software interface that allows SSDs to operate though the PCI Express directly. It is an alternative to the traditional SATA interface.

M.2, on the other hand, is a form factor. It indicates the physical shape and size of the card plugged into the slot and helps in maximizing spaced and reducing footprint.

Which is faster NVMe or M.2?

NVMe is much faster than M.2 because it uses four PCIe lanes for data transfer. This allows it to reach a speed of 3500 MB/s for reading and for writing, the speed is up to 2500 MB/s. In comparison to the SSD and M.2, this speed is about six to seven times more.


The bottom line is that NVMe or Non-Volatile Memory Express, which is also known as Non-Volatile Memory Host Controller Interface Specification or NVMHCIS, is the standard that uses the working prototypes of PCIe and Ethernet-based connectivity.

It is considered to be one of the most advanced standards.