NVMe vs Sata vs M.2: Difference and Comparison

In this age of science and technology, the drivers used in a computer also have varying qualities, and it’s difficult to choose the right one when the options are many, and the prices are similar. It is important to take into account the pros and cons of solid-state drives or SSDs used in computers to not only enhance their performance but also process the data with lightning speed.

Key Takeaways

  1. NVMe is a high-performance storage protocol, SATA is a traditional interface for storage devices, and M.2 is a form factor for SSDs.
  2. NVMe offers faster data transfer rates and lower latency than SATA.
  3. M.2 SSDs can support both NVMe and SATA protocols, providing various options for storage performance and compatibility.

NVMe vs SATA vs M.2

NVMe is a newer and faster interface that has been designed specifically for solid-state drives (SSDs), while SATA is a more traditional interface used for both SSDs and hard disk drives. M.2 is a form factor that SSDs can take, and it can be used with either NVMe or SATA interfaces.

NVMe vs SATA vs M.2

NVMe, also known as Non-Volatile Memory Host Controller Interface Specification (NVMHCIS), is an interface specification that is attached to a computer via PCI Express to access a computer’s non-volatile media storage. This NAND flash memory is introduced in the market in several physical forms, including SSDs, PCIe cards, and M.2 cards.

SATA or Serial AT Attachment is an interface of a computer bus that connects host bus adapters to media storage devices like hard disks, optical drives, and solid-state drives. It supersedes the PATA, which is Parallel AT Attachment. It was created by the Serial ATA Working Group back in 2000.

M.2, also pronounced as m dot two, is a specification used for a computer’s expansion cards and associated connectors. M.2 allows a more flexible specification approach while allowing the pairing of various lengths and widths of more advanced interfacing features making M.2 suitable for mSATA for solid-state storage applications.

Comparison Table

Parameters of ComparisonNVMeSATAM.2
  ModelsWD Black SN850X, SK Hynix Platinum, Seagate Firecuda 530.Seagate Exos X16, Seagate Constellation, Hitachi Deskstar 7K400.SATA and NVMe.
Price range250GB $50 to $90 500GB $70 to $160 1TB $120 to $200250GB $40 to $70 500GB $50 to $90 1TB $90 to $140250GB $40 to $90 500GB $50 to $160 1TB $90 to $200
Speed  PCle Gen 3 Up to 3,500MB per second PCle Gen 4 Up to 7,500MB per secondUp to 550MB per secondSATA Up to 550MB per second NVMe PCle Gen 3 Up to 3,500MB per second PCle Gen 4 Up to 7,500MB per second
Form FactorsM.2 U2 PCle card2.5-inch drive M.2This is a form factor
Most Commonly found inHigher-end (and some mid-range) laptops or pre-built desktop PCsMid-range and higher-end laptops or pre-built desktop PCsBudget laptops or pre-built desktop PCS

What is NVMe?

Intel Developer Forum introduced the first non-volatile memory-accessing devices in the market in 2007. In April 2008, the first NVMe was completed and released on the website of Intel. Its commercial use was introduced in the form of NVMe chipsets by the company named Integrated Device Technology in August 2012.

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The modus operandi of NVMe is that it has a controller chip with storage media in the form of an SSD which then executes the NVMe data, which is physically stored in the system. NVMe allows the host software and hardware to exploit the levels of parallelism possible in modern SSDs fully.

NVMe solid-state drive has many form factors, including AIC, U.2, U.3, M.2, etc. AIC or add-in card is used to insert in the server slot of a PCIe. U.2, also known as SFF-8639, connects the drive to a computer. It can engage up to four PCIe lanes at a time. U.3 or SFF-TA-1001 is U.2 specification built-on and uses a tri-mode standard that combines the SAS, SATA, and NVMe support into a single controller.


What is SATA?

Serial ATA International Organisation is the parent organization from which the idea for specifications of the SATA industry originated. After the announcement in 2000, SATA took over the PATA with the huge advantages it provided for the virtual world, like a reduction in cable sizes and a reduction in costs by using only seven conductors instead of forty to eighty conductors.

Due to its higher signaling rates, SATA ensures the fastest data transfers of the modern age. It also attracts customers through its native hot-swapping facility. It also offers an I/O queuing protocol which guarantees efficient transfer of data. Revision 1.0 of SATA specification was also released in January 2003.

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A prominent feature of SATA is hot plugging. It means that devices that meet the specification can insert or remove a device into and from a backplane connector with power access.


What is M.2?

M.2 was formerly known as the Next Generation Form Factor (NGFF). Its common manufacturers are Intel, Samsung, Phison, and SK Hynix. It connects to a motherboard via PCIe 3.0, PCIe 4.0, or PCIe 5.0.

M.2 modules are capable of uniting multiple functions and device classes, including SSDs, Wireless WAN, WiGig, digital radio, NFC (near field Communication), satellite navigation, Bluetooth, and Wi-Fi.

M.2 has three storage interfaces. Legacy SATA, PCI Express using AHCI, and PCI Express using NVMe. Legacy SATA is used for SATA SSDs. AHCI was developed to connect a host bus adaptor in a system to the CPU using a rotating magnetic media.

Main Differences Between NVMe, SATA, and M.2

  1. M.2 is itself a form factor, while the form factors in NVMe and SATA are M.2 U2, a PCle card, and a 2.5-inch drive.
  2. NVMe is most found in higher-end laptops or pre-built desktop PCs. SATA is found in budget laptops, while M.2 is seen in mid-range and higher-end laptops or pre-built desktop PCs.
  3. The advantages of NVMe include blazing speeds, while SATA is hailed for a good balance between affordability and speed. M.2 takes very little space in a desktop PC build.
  4. The speed of NVMe is between 3500MB-7500MB per second. While that of SATA is 550MB per second.
  5. The price of NVMe ranges between $50-$200. The price range of M.2 is $40-$200, while that of SATA is $40-$170.
  1. https://ieeexplore.ieee.org/abstract/document/8744950
  2. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S1742287616000025

Last Updated : 29 July, 2023

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