M.2 and NVMe Storage Explained

If you’re in the market for a new solid-state drive (SSD), you may have come across the terms NVMe and M.2. While both are related to SSDs, they actually refer to different things.

NVMe is a protocol for accessing solid-state storage devices via a PCIe bus. NVMe stands for Non-Volatile Memory Express, and it was designed specifically for modern, high-speed SSDs. NVMe is faster than older protocols like SATA and SAS, which were designed for slower hard disk drives. NVMe is capable of achieving transfer rates of up to 32 Gb/s, which is a significant improvement over SATA's 6 Gb/s.

M.2 is a form factor for SSDs. It's a small, rectangular-shaped module that plugs directly into a motherboard's M.2 slot. M.2 SSDs are designed to be small and compact, making them ideal for use in laptops and other devices where space is at a premium. M.2 SSDs come in different lengths and widths, which are designated by different "keys" that correspond to different PCIe lanes.

So, to sum up the difference between NVMe and M.2:

  • NVMe is a protocol for accessing SSDs via PCIe.
  • M.2 is a form factor for SSDs that plugs directly into a motherboard's M.2 slot.
  • NVMe can be used with different form factors (e.g. U.2, PCIe add-in card), not just M.2.
  • M.2 SSDs can use different protocols (e.g. SATA, NVMe), not just NVMe.

While NVMe and M.2 are often used together, it's important to remember that they are not interchangeable terms. You can have an NVMe SSD that uses a different form factor, such as U.2 or a PCIe add-in card. Similarly, you can have an M.2 SSD that uses a different protocol, such as SATA. So, when shopping for an SSD, be sure to pay attention to both the form factor and the protocol to ensure that you're getting the right product for your needs.

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