What is NVMe memory and what are its features?


What is NVMe memory and what are its features?

What is NVMe memory and what are its features?

NVMe stands for non-volatile memory express (host controller interface of non-volatile memory) is a communication interface for SSD memories, developed by a consortium of companies such as Intel, Samsung, SanDisk, Dell and Seagate has been developed; This protocol actually enables the use of PCIe bus for SSD memories. NVM Express allows software and host hardware to take advantage of the maximum parallelism in modern SSDs.

NVMe technology used to be an unnecessary but widely used option in the storage industry. was going. But now this feature has become an important thing and buyers of new computers should pay attention to it. If you have just bought a computer and want to increase its speed, you can achieve your goal by using this technology.

Using the NVMe protocol improves the speed of reading and writing I/Os; Also, the delay time is greatly reduced in these memories. The improved process of checking multiple rows of instructions (especially long instructions) also greatly improves speed and memory performance in this type of technology. NVMe is considered an alternative to SCSI and ATA, which was launched with the aim of reaching the maximum capacity of memories.

NAND, their controls and structure in SSDs made it possible to reach high speeds, but until there was a suitable process and port to reach high speeds, these potentials remained unused. . NVMe, which was developed based on PCIe, actually removed the port barriers for data transfer. In fact, due to the use of old interfaces, many SSD memories cannot reach their maximum capacity in data exchange speed, and the new standard can increase the gap between these types of memories and old mechanical memories.

Brief History

The first details and news about the new memory standard were released in 2007. The technical development of the NVMe interface began in 2009, and more than 90 companies under the leadership of Intel’s Amber Hoffman took up the development process. March 2011 version 1.0 was released. Version 1.1 added support for SSDs with multiple PCIe ports to the previous version.

Version 1.2 in November 2014 added improvements such as live support for firmware updates and more optimized consumption. Version 1.3, which we can still see being used in memories, was prepared from June 2017, which brings the cleaning of low-level blocks on NAND and a new firmware for NVMe memories.

Simulation improvements in this version define how to use shared storage space when physical and virtual controllers exist. was doing Initial information from version 1.4 was also released in June 2019, but a product based on it has not yet been released to the market.

How does NVMe work?

NVMe commands I/O ( input/output) and maps its responses in shared memory on the PCIe interface in the host computer. This interface supports parallel I/Os and multi-core processors to achieve high throughput and reduce bottlenecking.

NVMe works in such a way that the host computer writes an I/O command queue, and the NVMe controller executes them by removing the I/O queues and sends the completed commands to the host again.

By allocating more paths for processing An I/O request compared to SCSI and ATA, NVMe requires less CPU. NVMe supports 64,000 commands in a message queue and 65,535 I/O queues. For comparison, we can point out that a SAS-based device normally supports a maximum of 256 commands and a SATA memory supports a maximum of 32 commands in a row.

The main problem is the memory!

It is not possible to update the manufacturers of processor and graphics cards in The last decade denied; But the main reason for increasing the speed of laptops in current generations are SSD memories. For many years, poor storage speed has been one of the main causes of slow PCs, and increasing the number of processing cores or processor frequency has not helped to make systems faster. Mechanical memories were wasting the potential of processors and graphics cards, and increasing their rotation speed was not fruitful either. Finally, SSDs were able to fill the gap between processor power and memory speed. Now in all powerful systems, including computers and laptops for gaming, video editing and graphic content production, we see the use of new types of memories.

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For example, if during the last two years, If you have purchased a MacBook Pro, you will notice that the speed of the device has increased significantly compared to its previous generations. Apps are opened in a blink of an eye and files are saved to the device quickly. Also, the device can be turned on and off in just a few seconds. All of the above is due to the use of NVMe SSD memory in recent generations of MacBook Pro, which can read and write information 4 times faster than SATA SSD memory used in previous generations.

Data path identification is also 10 times faster than before. Meanwhile, SATA SSD memories are several times faster than HDD types, and the product of all these figures can indicate the very high speed of memories based on the NVMe standard. be In the table below, you can see a comparison between the performance of the three main technologies in the information storage industry.

The average speed that can be achieved in mechanical memories is about 200 MB/s; While this value reaches 550 MB/s for SATA SSD memories and more than 3 GB/s for NVMe SSD. Of course, it is clear that many users do not need such a speed, and even professional users do not achieve the maximum speed potential in the NVMe standard in everyday use; But increasing this value can significantly improve the performance of computers.

The results you can see in the table below clearly define the difference between two types of NVMe in different classes, the difference between SATA and NVMe and the difference between hard disks and SSD memories:

Memory model / read and write (MB/s) Capacity Memory type Seq Q32T1 4K Q32T1 Seq 4K
Samsung 970 Pro 512 GB NVMe SSD 3535
2300
418
328. 9
2574
2124
54/95
131.4
Lexar NS200 240 GB SATA SSD 568 /8
516/7
311/1
292/8
9/533
3/476
4/33
98/88
ADATA XPG SX6000 Lite 512GB NVMe SSD 1742
1240
9/422
9/379
1736
1208
48/58
114/8
Western Digital WD10EZEX 1 TB HDD 7200 RPM 164/2
15 5/9
0/943
1/311
8/163
1/159
0/300
1/303

*Zoom all benchmarks mentioned in this table It did.

As you can see, the NVMe SSDs were much faster in the EMGblog tests than the SATA ones. Samsung 970 Pro is a high-end NVMe memory and ADATA XPG SX6000 Lite is an economical NVMe memory, and even though both use NVMe 1.3, there is a big difference in speed. Of course, there may be products of all three types of memory that have better or lower performance than the mentioned level, but the values ​​mentioned in the above tables are considered average.

15082 (41736)

memory Storage / speed of reading information (writing information) Type Order in megabytes per second 4KB Random Single IOPS
Samsung 970 Pro NVMe SSD 2795 (2087) 14014 (41078)
Lexar NS200 SATA SSD 523 (478) 8577 (24820)
Samsung 970 Evo Plus NVMe SSD 2706 (2447)
ٰWestern Digital WD10EZEX HDD 7200 RPM 143/5 (142.5) 59 (314)

*All the benchmarks mentioned in this table have been implemented by Zomit. Drawing a graph of the progress of memory in the last 10 years can underestimate the progress made in the field of personal computer processing. But the lower speed has not caused the old generations including HDD to be removed. These types of memories are still considered a more suitable option for mass storage of information because SSD memories have a much lower price and in large volumes, this distance becomes much more noticeable. But it is better to put the operating systems, programs and frequently used data on the NVMe SSD memory or, if it is not accessible, on the SATA SSD to increase the speed of the system.

Although the SATA port has been able to achieve a speed of 16 Gbps in its version 3.3, but most of the commercial ports Available in computers, they do not exceed the nominal capacity of 6 Gbps, and in actual operation, their speed hardly reaches 550 MB/s. Even version 3.3 of this technology is much slower than the potential of today’s SSD memories; Especially if they are used in a RAID configuration.

In the next step, the use of PCI Express technology is on the agenda of many manufacturers, which is There was a default in computers to transfer data related to the graphics card. From the third generation onwards, this technology provides the ability to use multiple lanes up to a maximum of 16, each of which can transfer about 1 gigabyte (985 megabytes to be exact) of data per second.

PCIe is also known as the originator of the Thunderbolt interface. This interface is now the main option for connecting external graphics cards for games to computers. Also, NVMe external memories use the mentioned interface, which makes their speed almost the same as internal memories. Many users now realize how effective Intel’s action has been in preventing Thunderbolt from being forgotten.

Although the rise of PCIe to It predates the NVMe standard by several years, but its use for data storage has not been very common. The previous protocols used in this field, such as SCSI and AHCI, were all developed during the heyday and reign of mechanical memories, and for that reason, they were not compatible with the advanced features of SSDs. Finally, NVMe was able to remove the limitations of previous standards by providing many features, including reducing the delay in the execution of commands and increasing their execution capacity to 64,000 numbers.

Capability mentioned in SSD is very important because the data in this type of product is widely recorded in the storage units; While this process took place continuously and circularly in mechanical memories. The NVMe standard is still evolving and its newer generations are being released to the market. In the version 1.31 of this protocol, the ability to use RAM of the computer as a temporary memory (cache) >) is provided.

NVMe memory form factors

M.2: is considered the most common form factor for NVMe memory, using its connector up to four PCIe 3.0 or PCIe 4.0 lanes can be used.

U.2: This form factor is also known as SFF-8639 and uses a maximum of 4 PCIe lanes. Such a form factor can be found mostly in computer servers.

U.3: It is developed based on the U.2 specification and uses the SFF-8639 connector. One controller can be used to combine SAS, SATA and NVMe. U.3 memories are compatible with U.2, but it is not possible to use U.2 memory in the U.3 platform.

AIC:Almost all early NVMe memories are of HHHL type. AIC or FHHL were AIC and used PCIe 2.0 and PCIe 3.0 interfaces. A HHHL AIC memory is attached to the PCIe port of the server.

How to take advantage of an NVMe memory?

Adding such memory to a computer without NVMe boot support would be pointless; Unless you’re a gamer

It is possible to add NVMe memory to computers with PCIe ports by purchasing an adapter. All popular and important operating systems provide special drivers for this, and regardless of the age of your computer, its speed will undoubtedly increase. But this issue will not be so simple. To use the maximum power of an NVMe SSD memory, you must install your operating system on it.

Booting the operating system from memory requires BIOS support from The standard used by memory. The BIOS of most older computers does not support such a feature, and it does not seem that the manufacturers intend to provide an update to add such a feature. For this reason, adding such memory to a computer without NVMe boot support would be pointless; Unless you are a gamer and install your games on the mentioned memory or use heavy software with high processing requirements such as high quality video editing (such as 2160p).

Most of the NVMe SSDs available in the market are of the M.2 form factor. get benifits. But having an M.2 port does not mean that your computer supports the required standard. This port is intended to support USB 3.0 along with SATA and PCIe, but its initial generations only support SATA; For this reason, it is better to read the information about your motherboard or check online whether it is compatible with the NVMe standard before buying a new memory. Also, be careful that the MSATA port, which is considered the previous generation of M.2, is very similar to it, but does not support the mentioned feature.

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From the appearance of a port, it cannot be understood that it supports PCIe and NVMe; But it is possible to differentiate between the PCIe x2 and PCIe x4 port in terms of appearance, and only the latter can support the said standards. The first example uses the B-shaped key, which causes 6 pins or connection points to be separated from the rest. The term key refers to the bumps on the gate that fit over the depressions in the memory. The PCIe x4 port uses an M-shaped key that, in addition to the previous protrusion, has another protrusion on the opposite side that separates the five connector pins from the others. Of course, there is no general rule for these ports, but most of the ports with B key only use the SATA standard. Today, ports with both B and M keys are common, which can use all standards. Sometimes these ports are also called two-socket and three-socket.

If your port is an older type, you should use the $25 PCIe M.2 adapter. There are products such as Plextor’s M9Pe on the market that can be used only after being inserted into the port, and no additional action is required to set them up. Also, as a simple user, you should avoid buying the 2.5-inch version of NVMe drives because they require the SFF-8639 interface, which is designed for small drives. This interface has 4 PCIe Gen 3 lanes, along with 2 SATA ports and several side channels that use 3.3 and 12V ports for power. Of course, this interface is only seen in high-end and organizational memories and systems. If you own a rare computer with a Thunderbolt port (like many Asus motherboards), you can use this port to connect NVMe memory. Use your device, which provides very high power to the user.

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