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    Technology Manager of Test Dept.
 

Summary

In this passage, we are going to introduce and compare different SSD interfaces. Hope to help you get more about their performance.



After development, it is very common to use SSD in computer.  And we believe that revolution of storage devices will come soon. However, SSD is equipped with different interfaces which makes SSD to get faster transfer speed and provides better user experience.  Here, you may confuse about the performance of different interface SSD? And what kind of computers they are suitable for? We will get all these information here!
Conclusion of Different SSD Interface
SATA >>If the computer's motherboard only provids SATA interface or users want to get the peformance of SSD with a lower price, it is recommended to choose SATA SSD.
mSATA >>mSATA interface are out of date now. It is not equipped in motherboard any more. Only in some old computers, we can find the mSATA and install mSATA SSD.
M.2 >>M.2 is the most popular interface nowadays. Various manufacturers provide M.2 SSD. If the motherboard on the PC is equipped with M.2 interface, it is recommended to choose M.2 SSD.
SATA Express >>There is few SSD which supports this interface. Besides, SATA Express does not have any advantage when comparing with other interfaces.
PCIE >>SSD adopts PCIE interface is aim at high-end position, which means its price will be expensive. So if users want to get a high-end computer without any limitation on capatial, the performance of PCIE SSD will not be disappointed.
U.2 >>U.2 is still in early stage. Only few motherboard supports U.2. And it is hard to find U.2 SSD in SSD market.
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SATA 3.0:The Most Common SSD Interface

SATA is the most popular and accepted SSD interface. Multiple devices are compatible with SATA interfaces. Evolving from SATA 1.0, SATA 3.0 has been widely used in HDD and common 2.5 inch SSD.
The theoretical transfer speed of SATA 3.0  is 6Gbps which is much slower than some other new interfaces which has a maximum transfer speed of 10Gbps even 32Gbps. Normally, users do not need SSD with such high write/read speed. 500MB/S is enough for most computer users. Comparing with the read/write speed of traditional HDD, this speed has make great improvement.
sata 3.0

Comment:

Although SATA 3.0 is some kind out of date but it is still the main choice for common users who do not have extremely high requirement on performance.

mSATA Interface: Successor of SATA but Useless

The space in laptop is quite limited. If you have uinstall SATA 3.0 SSD, you can found that SSD can be smaller in shape. With the increasing demand for a smaller and lighter SSD, mSATA released.
The history of mSATA can be traced back to 2009 when SATA-IO released a new standard for products. This new stand can make SATA technology be applied on most Ultrabook and business notebook. Besides, mSATA has the same upper limit as SATA SSDs, which is 6Gb/s. .
However, the development of mSATA is not so smooth. Getting smaller in shape limits the number of storage cells, which lows the performance and capcity of mSATA. As a result, most users tended to choose traditional 2.5 inch SSD rather than the new mSATA.
msata

Comment:

Although SATA 3.0 can fulfill the requirement of most common users, its limitation on transfer speed can not fulfill the need of users who want best performance. The desire of breaking the limitation of 6Gbps is getting stronger.

M.2: Advanced and Flexible SSD Interface

Since Ultrabook become the main product of Intel, the desire of getting a smaller memory storage becomes stronger. However, the limitations of mSATA make Intel to work hard on the new type of interface. A new interface standard NGFF(Next Generation Form Factor) was released. NGFF can improve the thickness of SSD as well as the transfer speed. Then NGFF has been renamed to be M.2 when promoted.

Supports SATA and PCIE at the same time.

The transfer speed of M.2 SSD was the same with SATA 3.0 when using SATA. Now, with the development, new M.2 SSD has widely accepted the PCIE×4 which provides a maximum transfer speed of 32Gbps.

Besides, latest NVME Express of PCIE greatly improve the performance of M.2 SSD which surpasses SATA SSD. Now, users and manufacturers are tend to replace SATA with M.2.

M.2 SSD
NVME is a new transport protocol which was specially designed for flash memory in SSD. Comparing with traditional AHCI, NVME is more compatible with SSD. This protocol can make SSD connect to CPU directly via PCIE, which can improve the transfer speed and lower the latency.  So, SSD which is with PCIE bus and support NVME transfer protocol is also called NVME SSD.

Comment:

Even motherboard provides M.2 interface, we need to konw that M.2 interface support different connectors. Some only support PCIE while some support both. It is better for user to check which connector that your M.2 supported in the manual.

PCIE: A Purified M.2

The trend of SSD interface development is to provide more bandwidth. Like M.2 which can provides increased performance is using the PCIE×4. And the dedicated PCIE card. Actually, lots of M.2 SSD can connect to PCIE×4 lanes.

Comment:

PCIE is rare, large in size and similar with M.2 PCIE, so it is accepted by high-end consumers and enterprise. And now, the latest PCIE has reach 16 bandwidth. PCIE is still with great potential in SSD’s further development.

PCIE2

SATA Express: Meaningless and Cumbersome

Although it is hard to improve the performance of SATA Express, manufacturers still made some effort. And the result is SATA Express.
Developed from SATA, SATA Express has the following advantages:

Bandwidth has reach up to 10Gbpswhich is 4 Gbps faster than SATA 3.0.

Compatible with SATA drives.

SATA Express

Comment:

SATA-Express does not make great improvement when comparing with SATA 3.0. Besides, cumbersome size occupies lots of space on motherboard. So, it has not really caught on.

U.2 Interface: Long Way to be Universal

U.2,formerly known as SFF-8639, is a new interface standard developed from SATA-Express. U.2 is compatible with SATA and SATA-Express. The theoretical throughput is up to 32Gbps which is the same with M.2. Besides, U.2 also support NVMe.
The performance of U.2 seems to be the same with M.2, but SSD with U.2 interface is rare and so does the motherboard. Actually, size of U.2 SSD has reached 2.5 inch which can not fulfill the requirement of getting smaller in size. As a result, U.2 is not adopted by most manufacturers.
u2

Conclusion

There are so many different types of SSD, but SATA 3.0, M.2, mSATA and PCIE are the most common one. For consumers, we do not need to waste too much time on choosing SSD interface. M.2 and SATA 3.0 could be the better choice from the compatibility and technology.

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