What is NVMe SSD?

NVMe (Non-Volatile Memory Express) is a storage protocol recently developed for solid state drives (SSD) using the PCI-Express port. NVMe SSDs achieve a higher speed of data transfer due to a larger bandwidth.

Since this protocol was developed specifically for SSD technology, its implementation has significant advantages over an SSD connected via a SATA system. NVMe SSDs communicate directly with the CPU and do so very quickly (take less processing cycles), which in turn provides lower latency (the time it takes between an order and the execution of an action).

SATA, NVMe and M.2 concepts

Decades ago, hard drives (HDD) used a data transfer protocol called Parallel-ATA, better known as IDE, that could develop several activities in parallel (simultaneously). Later, this protocol was replaced by Serial-ATA or SATA, the main difference of which is an improvement in performance, with serial processing of activities (in rows or queues).

These protocols were designed for storage devices that were mechanical at the time. Standard AHCI protocol (Advanced Host Controller Interface) is designed to get higher performance from these devices. It was the best communication system between the operating system and the HDD, and several companies dedicated to this field collaborated in its development, notably Intel.

Traditional SSDs communicate with the motherboard via SATA ports, they use the AHCI protocol. Because this protocol does not anticipate the arrival of solid disks, its design does not allow to exploit the potential that an SSD can offer. Thus, M.2 ports were taken as alternatives.

M.2 is a kind of connection and you have one of these slots on the motherboard to integrate some peripherals. These can be managed by the SATA or PCI-Express protocol. NVMe emerged with the need for a new protocol that takes advantage of this new technology. For this reason, more powerful SSDs are often seen with the term M.2 NVMe. With this, an SSD can achieve about 3 times the data transfer capacity of a solid disk operating with the AHCI protocol.

m2-form factor

The benefits and function of NVMe

The main function of NVMe is to establish successful communication between the SSD and other components of the computer. This allows solid state drives to run at higher speeds to meet new user needs. This allows users with an SSD with this type of protocol to achieve much higher performance on their hardware than SATA protocols offer. Also, this increased performance will be constant regardless of the type of format the disc was obtained in.

This new protocol will enable all items installed on a computer to achieve a higher speed. This includes better functioning of browsers, games and generally the same operating system that the equipment has. In short, the computer’s response to any type of command will not only be faster, but also more stable in many cases. This type of new memory is therefore recommended for anyone who has an SSD and wants to boost its performance to achieve transfer speeds of up to 7GB/s.

NVMe features

NVMe architecture allows SSDs to reach 3000 Megabytes per second bandwidth, while SATA connected SSD stays at 600 Megabytes per second. However, reaching this capacity depends on the lines supported by the computer. Strips are circuit paths where information on the motherboard is transferred to the CPU.

Each motherboard has a maximum lane capacity, exceeding this capacity will degrade the performance of devices connected to the motherboard via PCI-Express slots.

A SATA SSD can be distinguished from an NVMe by the type of slot they use. NVMe SSDs have single-sector slots and are specifically referred to as the M slot (left image). The slots for SATA SSDs are usually referred to as M+B (right image).

nvme m b

Another highlight of M.2 NVMe SSDs is their size. They are more compact, but their size increases as their capacity increases. However, when talking about M-slot memories using the AHCI protocol, it corresponds to the case of 22110 (22mm x 110mm). Therefore, caution should be exercised when purchasing one of these M.2 SSDs.


Regarding installation, it should be taken into account that these memories reach high temperatures, so installation should be accompanied by coolers (aluminum cases with grilles). Often these solid discs are marketed without them, so this is another point to consider when buying one of these.

nvme cooling

As for who should have an M.2 NVMe SSD, the answer is: it depends. It may not be absolutely necessary for those who do simple office work, but it would be a good idea to get even 120 Gb at least. Anyone who is devoted to graphic design, illustration or gaming should invest in one of them, since the main advantage of its use is that it significantly reduces the opening time of the programs installed on the computer.