The features, functionalities and technical aspects of a PCI Express SSD and NVM Express are different, which, like most users, may even confuse you. Therefore, if you have to make a choice between the two, it is essential that you know the differences between them in the first place.
Saving you from the hassles of visiting numerous sites on the internet for that, here is an article that will clear all confusions and will also help you in deciding which is better between PCIe SSD and NVMe with some additional information provided.
- PCI Express signifies a standard bus interface that supports high speed Solid State Drives but NVM Express is the communication transfer protocol and works on top of PCIe protocol.
- PCI Express involves the arrangement of wires between the card and the processor but NVMe represents the state in which the on/off signals take place in these wires.
- The PCIe SSDs use NVMe format to store and access data but NVMe SSDs follow the specific standard for it and the rules for the same and they specifically need the PCI Express lanes to perform at a high speed to perform well.
In This Article
The 6 Differences Between PCIe SSD and NVMe
PCIe SSD stands for Peripheral Component Interconnect Express Solid State Drive but NVMe stands for Non-Volatile Memory Express.
2. What is
PCI Express is an electrical or standard bus interface that works with high-performance SSDs.
However, NVM Express, on the other hand, is a communication transfer or storage protocol that can be used in SSDs and runs on top of PCI Express protocol and other transfer interfaces protocols.
Due to the high-performance bandwidth, the PCIe SSDs can be used to connect current expansion cards to the motherboards.
These can be used for all computer applications such as personal computers, communication systems, enterprise servers, and industrial applications.
On the other hand, the NVMe SSDs can be used for high frequency trading and similar high performance computing applications such as communication systems, servers, hardcore gaming, Artificial Intelligence and others that need quicker data handling and storage for machine learning.
The connection type of PCI Express implies the array of wires between the processor and the card.
On the other hand, the NVM Express protocol implies or states how exactly the on/off signals should take place across those wires.
In other words, this is a standard that helps the components to understand each other to perform better.
The PCI Express on the SSDs work as a hardware specification for the bus.
It works as the path for the signal to travel through the devices so that they can communicate with each other with the help of different software protocols.
This means that the PCI Express SSD refers to the way the drive is connected to the computer.
The NVM Express, on the other hand, being a software protocol, functions as the rules that the solid state devices need to follow when these run over a wide range of hardware.
6. Data Storage and Access
The PCI Express SSDs typically use the NVM Express format for storing data in and accessing data from the device.
On the other hand, the NVM Express SSDs follow the rules according to this specific standard to determine how the data is to be stored or accessed in and from it.
Which is Better – PCIe SSD or NVMe?
In order to answer this question in just a few words it can be said that both PCI Express and NVM Express SSDs are good and useful.
Still, you can consider the NVM Express to have a slight edge over PCI Express, simply being a newer technology with some significant improvements made in it.
It is based on PCI Express, which itself is a next-gen technology, and therefore offers exceptional performance results in comparison to the earlier storage interfaces such as SAS and SATA.
Otherwise, functionally and technologically they are not contradictory to each other. A few more facts and information apart from the above differences would surely make things clearer to you.
The Non-Volatile Memory Express is a special communication transfer protocol.
This is developed especially to access high-speed storage media devices such as next-gen SSDs and flash drives.
The NVMe technology standard is new and is built purposely to access the PCIe SSDs.
It is considered to be the new alternative protocol to AHCI or Advanced Host Controller Interface, SATA or Serial Advanced Technology Attachment and Serial Attached Small Computer System Interface or SAS SCSI protocol.
The NVM Express technology was collectively built by the NVM Express Workgroup comprising more than 90 companies and is considered to be a collection of open standards.
The main purpose behind the creation of the NVM Express standard is to provide the users with a more scalable interface that will help them realize the true potential and exploit the SSD technology to the fullest.
This will further help in the wider and faster adoption of PCI Express SSDs in the near future.
When the SSDs were launched for the first time, these operated on SAS and/or SATA protocols.
The main intention behind such a design was to keep these devices in line with the hard drives that existed then.
The PCI Express transfer protocol was developed later on to support the SSDs and increase its speed considerably and also brought it closer to the Central Processing Unit.
Therefore, PCI Express became the subsequent logical interface to use for the flash memory.
However, the PCI Express SSDs that were developed early did not have those particular features according to the industry standards.
It is for this specific reason the NVMe technology standard was developed to be used for the non-volatile memory and especially for the high-speed SSDs.
The NVM Express transfer protocol is super fast and can attain speeds that are about 2 to 7 times higher in comparison to the SATA SSDs.
While a standard HDD or Hard Disk Drive could only handle a single queue for command, the NVMe technology, on the other hand, became the first storage protocol that had the ability to handle as many as 64,000 queues and 64,000 commands in each of them.
The PCI Express refers to a high-speed typical bus interface. This increases the performance of the SSDs.
This interface is used primarily to connect modern expansion cards to the computers or motherboards.
Actually, the PCI Express interface has offered an effective solution to server I/O and connectivity, helping in establishing a communication between the external I/O networking devices and the Central Processing Units.
This specific bus interface works well with SSDs as well as almost every other thing such as video cards, sound cards, raid cards and Ethernet cards.
The PCI Express SSDs use point-to-point connections for non-core machinery.
This is different from the previous PCI bus topology that typically utilized parallel and shared bus architecture.
The PCI Express protocol is monitored by the PCI Special Interest Group or PCI-SIG.
The speed of the PCI Express SSDs is typically determined by the number of lanes and the version of the PCI Express.
These lanes form a physical connector as these are connected serially and each of them comes with two pairs of wires.
One of these pairs receives the signals and the other transmits them.
The number of lanes can range between 1 and 32 to establish the link between devices connected.
Depending on the generations or versions of the PCI Express itself, the PCIe SSDs can come with different speeds and physical features.
The PCIe 5.0 SSDs are the newest version but the PCIe 6.0 is also waiting to be released soon.
However, the PCIe 5.0 as of now can attain absolutely incredible speeds to the tune of nearly 32 Giga Transfers per second or GT/s which is much, much more in comparison to the speed of the PCIe 4.0 which is 16 GT/s.
Though PCI Express is a standard bus interface that can be used in the SSDs and the NVMe is an interface design for communication with next gen SSDs and NAND flash drives, these are not conflicting technologies.
It is true that the older PCI express drives that were available in the market before the NVM Express technology standard was created typically used the SCSI or AHCI storage protocols.
These drives did not consider the operating system anything more than just another single SCSI or SATA drive connected to the PCI Express host bus adapter.
Now, in fact, the two technologies complement each other since the NVMe SSDs are normally attached to the host system directly over the PCI Express bus.
Therefore, it can be said that the NVM Express uses PCI Express to help the modern applications to function at their fullest potential.
Considering the two technologies as such, it cannot be said that one is faster than the other.
This is because the SSD drives typically use both of these technologies all the time.
The NVM Express SSDs use the PCI Express lanes and therefore one needs the other to perform at a high speed.
However, how fast it would be will entirely depend on the version of PCIe and the number of lanes the motherboard of the computer supports.
Since PCIe is developed to connect expansion cards and other components including SSDs akin to NVMe to the motherboard by using serial connections, you will see PCIe is usually mentioned after NVMe.
This typically indicates that the NVMe is made to unite with PCIe connection.
The NVMe leverages PCIe to access SSDs and other high speed storage solutions.
This has other significant benefits as well. When the NVMe protocol uses the PCI Express rails of the system it gains ample bandwidth to attain incredible speed which is much higher in comparison to the speed achieved through traditional SATA interfaces.
Apart from that, such unison also reduces the access and loading times greatly.
Moreover, it allows you to access the system RAM directly and therefore has a much faster link with the processor.
In addition to that, the possibilities of scaling and growing are also quite vast.
In fact, the importance of the two is so much that you will hardly find a drive today that comes with either PCIe or NVMe instead of both.
Now, since you have reached this far of the article, you surely know that both PCIe SSDs and NVMe are good enough to use.
It all depends eventually on your needs and preferences as to which among the two you will choose for your computing needs.