M.2 vs NVMe | Difference between M.2 and NVMe SSD terms

This page compares M.2 vs NVMe SSD and mentions difference between M.2 and NVMe terms used in SSD including benefits of M.2 SSD and NVMe SSD.

What is SSD?

SSD stands for solid state drive or solid state disk. It uses IC assemblies as memories in order to store data persistently. It uses non mechanical design made of NAND flash mounted on circuit boards.

SSDs offer numerous benefits over HDDs (Hard Disk Drives) such as 100 times greater performance, instantaneous data access, quick boot up, fast file transfer and so on. Moreover SSDs do not have any moving parts. Hence SSDs are shock resistant up to 1500g/0.5 ms unlike hard drives.

M-2 Drive for SATA and NVMe SSDs

SSDs support various logical interfaces such as AHCI and NVMe. SSDs are available in various form factors which define shapes and sizes of solid state storage devices. SATA based SSD supports 2.5", mSATA and M.2 form factors. PCIe based SSD supports HHHL (Half Height Half Length), M.2 and U.2 form factors. Refer advantages and disadvantages of SSD.

M.2 SSD and NVMe SSD

M.2 refers to form factor which indicates shape and size of the drive. NVMe refers to interface protocol which allows data to be read or written via PCIe. M.2 form factor is supported by SATA, PCIe and NVMe. NVMe supports M.2, U.2 form factors.

M.2 SSD Form Factors NVMe SSD Form Factors

The figure depicts form factors M.2 and U.2 used with various interfaces on SSDs.

Benefits of M.2

Following are the benefits of M.2 form factor:
➨Slimmer form factor for storage devices
➨Occupies less space and hence looks cleaner. It allows better airflow.
➨Light in weight and hence M.2 SSDs are portable.
➨M.2 SSDs are not more expensive than conventional SSDs.
➨M.2 SSD offers more storage capacity compare to mSATA card.
➨Refer advantages and disadvantages of M.2 SSD.

Benefits of NVMe Technology

Following are the benefits of NVMe technology:
➨Superior storage than SATA counterpart.
➨Superior speed
➨Superior compatibility as it directly communicates with system CPU. Moreover it works with major operating systems (OSs).
➨Lower end to end latency
➨Data security due to use of tunneling protocol
➨Refer advantages and disadvantages of NVMe SSD.

Comparison between M.2 and NVMe Terms

M.2 and NVMe terms are not interchangeable. Following points summarize comparison between M.2 and NVMe terms associated with SSDs.
➨M.2 is the form factor which defines shape and size of drives such as NVMe, SATA etc. NVMe is the interface protocol which defines the way data is moved to and from SSD using PCIe.
➨All the M.2 drives do not use NVMe except the fastest ones. Most of the drives which use NVMe come with M.2 form factor except few.

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