What is eMMC drive? You might have already read about our article about flash storage. In this one, we will be talking about a more specific sort of flash storage, the eMMC.
This is actually a cheaper option that has been used in some of the low-end laptops, and some other portable computing devices.
The first time the drive was used in 2006. Its predecessor, the MMC drive, however, has been in use since 1997, but it differs from it in certain ways.
For example, the MMC drive was removable, but you can’t remove an eMMC drive. The size of the MMC is also bigger. Check out flash drive advantages and disadvantages.
What is eMMC Drive?
The term eMMC means Embedded Multimedia Card. It has NAND flash memory cells and a controller much like any other flash storage drive but is usually smaller and slower than other SSDs.
An eMMC drive is usually used to store smaller sized data, and hence is not used everywhere.
The maximum memory, even in the latest 5.1 standards is 256 GB, lower than a standard hard drive. Other variants are 32 GB, 64 GB and 128 GB.
The card is placed directly in the motherboard of a device, and uses the 8-bit parallel arrangement.
Every eMMC storage drive has 3 main components mainly:
- 1) The MMC interface
- 2) NAND flash memory
- 3) NAND flash controller
Lifespan of eMMC
An eMMC run device can last up to 5 years.
This timespan is indirectly proportional to the storage capacity of the drive, meaning a 16 GB eMMC is likely to last longer than a 32 GB one.
Also, the more you use one the further its lifespan decreases.
They have a tendency to degrade and once that happens, you cannot use the concerned device anymore.
How Does eMMC Work?
The eMMC card is soldered directly into the motherboard of your device, and this is where the prefix ‘e’ comes in to play.
It is composed of NAND flash cells, and like other sorts of permanent storages, it can be used to store data without needing electricity.
It can also be used to store system files and has therefore been used in smartphones as well until 2016.
In eMMC, the storage cells and the controller are put together in a small BGA (ball grid array) IC package.
The width of such a card is very small, and therefore easily fits in a motherboard. They basically work in the same way a USB drive works.
The Pros of eMMC
The advantages that this mode of storage have are as follows:
1. Small Size
As said already, the eMMC is a small storage drive. Thus, it is easy to fit one in the motherboard of your PC, while leaving space for more flash storages later on.
Its compact size makes it perfect for smaller laptops, smartphones and tablets. You will find some mini PCs with this form of storage as well.
2. Faster than an SD card
The speed of the latest eMMCs is about 400 MB/s. This is much faster than an SD card, and hence you get faster file transfers out of your computing device. It can be compared with SATA drives.
One of the main advantages of the card is its price. It is very affordable and the use in laptops and Chromebooks lowers down the price of the entire device as a whole. So if you need a smaller amount of storage, they come handy.
4. Non Volatile
Like SSDs, HDDs, and other flash drives, an eMMC can hold data without electric power. This is a very useful quality when one wants a cheap storage option.
5. Can be used for a boot drive
You can use only an eMMC in your system, and yet your computer/laptop will boot up comfortably.
6. Newer Features
Every new version of the eMMC has brought newer features.
Thus in the current ones you get better security features, the scope of updating the firmware without having to shut down the system, background operation, and so on.
7. Efficient and Noise-less
eMMCs are very efficient and create no noise while working as there are no moving parts. This is an advantage over hard drives.
The Cons of eMMC
The following are some of the disadvantages of eMMC storage.
8. No Upgradability
You cannot upgrade the storage if you use an eMMC storage since it is embedded in the motherboard.
This means that you are stuck with the same limited amount of storage throughout.
9. Less expandability
A device with eMMC storage doesn’t allow you much expandability. The most you can do is add another SD card, or probably an external drive.
10. Problems in Operation
There have been problems reported in systems that rely solely on an SSD.
For example, the overall response of a device when the system and OS files are stored on a hard drive or SSD is much better than that stored in an eMMC.
Also, it is not optimized for multitasking and thereby the performance of the laptop or smartphone is hindered.
11. Weaker than SSD
Although eMMCs have some advantages, being better than an SSD is not one of them.
The latter has better performance, better speed and can outlast them in the long run.
12. Lower Storage
eMMC has limited storage, 256 GB at most to be exact. So, they are not suitable to store large amounts of data and have limited usage.
Even the average PC user would like to have some more storage since some portion of it will also be taken up by the system files.
eMMC FAQ :
Is eMMC better than HDD?
Although it has better speed, eMMC is not better than a hard drive. A hard drive is easy to upgrade and replace, has better accessibility, and a lot more storage support.
Can you replace an eMMC with a hard drive?
No, you cannot do so. It might be possible if there is a spare SATA port on your device, but the chances of having such are also slim. But you may add an external hard drive.
Is eMMC faster than an SSD?
The best speed an eMMC can reach is up to 400 MB/s, while PCIe SSDs can reach up to 1000 MB/s per lane. Thus, the result goes in favor of SSDs.
Can you replace eMMC with an SSD?
No, this is not possible either as it is placed in the motherboard. But you can clone the data into an SSD using third-party software. The process after you launch this software is almost similar, but make sure you have a backup of your data. Also, after the process, you can only use one of the drives.
Below are the common steps no matter what software you use:
Select the root drive
Select the target drive
Apply desired storage partition on the target drive
Initiate the cloning process
Which is a better SSD or eMMC?
An eMMC is not as good as an SSD. The SSD storage has many benefits over eMMC regarding speed, performance, and reliability. So, an SSD drive is always better. However, eMMC is good when one is looking for something cheap.
Though the utility of the eMMC storage in computers has reduced, it is not out of use yet. We hope that the article will be helpful for your better understanding of this form of storage.