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Explanation Needed: What Exactly is NVMe? Better Known as Non-Volatile Memory


It's been quite some time since I last posted an Explanation Needed, where every month I break down tech and make it simple for the everyday gadget and computer user. This month we take a look at NVMe technology, a term you may have seen written in text or thrown around in conversation when the topic entails memory and storage. 

Not to be mistaken for Envy-Me, NVMe is an acronym for Non-Volatile-Memory express. The technology has been around since 2009 and its still relatively new, but its just now starting to impact computer technology in present day.

You might be asking what exactly is an NVMe and how does it operate? Well, the technology may seem complicated to many, but here's what have. NVMe is a super fast way to access non-volatile memory. Flash and SSD's (solid state drives) are a type of non-volatile memory, which means power is not required to hold data in place. Hence, NVMe is a quick way to access Flash memory.


When SSD's first burst on to the tech scene, they used SATA and or SAS protocol to access data, this is more in line with existing hard drives we're all used to seeing. To keep up with the SSD speeds, high performance and be closer to CPU, PCIe ( PCI Express) was the next logical interface for Flash memory. But there was a big problem, past SSD's lacked any added features nor was it industry standard. In comes NVMe, which is constructed for non-volatile memory and packed with features. NVMe is nothing more than a transfer protocol, not a form factor, like SATA, PCIe interface or the newest and latest M.2.


Now the benefits of using with using NVMe SSD's is speed. It's 7x faster than SATA SSDs. Traditional hard drives use SCSI protocol that has one queue per command. With NVMe it is designed to have up to an astounding 64,000 queues, each capable of 64,000 commands at the same time. Accessing this type of speed used to be very expensive but the technology is getting cheaper by the year.  Today you can purchase a 500GB SSD NVMe for just $200.

Up until 2017 NVMe widely didn't have component support. But that seemingly has all changed; as more laptops and motherboards are now offering support for this technology. Currently, it has operating system support from Windows, Mac OS, Linux and even Chrome OS. 

Its safe to say NVMe has caused a massive paradigm shift with storage technology. 

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