SATA vs NVMe | What is the Difference?


NVMe (Non-Volatile Memory express) and SATA (Serial AT Attachment) are two of the most widely used forms of SSD storage currently available. However, as the popularity of NVMe grows, more users are asking what the difference between the two is and does NVMe deserve the increased attention it is receiving.  

Many business owners are wondering, and you may be one of them, is NVMe right for your IT system and is it worth upgrading to this newer technology? We will address this question, along with the capabilities of both NVMe and SATA in this article.  

How do NVMe and SATA work?  

The key difference between NVMe and SATA is not what they do but how they do it and, as a result, what this means for the performance of components and IT systems as a whole.  

SATA (Serial AT Attachment) builds on traditional PATA technology that was originally created as an interface to connect Hard Disk Drives. They make use of the SATA interface to transfer data between the storage drive and the motherboard with a cabled connection. This connection offers a single command queue and that caps the data transfer rate of SATA at 6Gb/s. By only allowing data to be transferred via a single lane, IT systems requiring demanding information loads, such as machine-learning applications or AI software, may experience bottlenecks that will hamper operations and result in a slower user experience. 

NVMe is different in that it moves away from traditional ATA (AT Attachment) technology to make use of the PCIe ports on a motherboard. For years, these ports have been used for other components, such as GPUs, but NVMe makes this interface accessible for storage drives. The fundamental difference is that rather than utilizing a cabled SATA connection, NVMe plugs directly into the motherboard itself.  

This allows access to more than 65,000 command queues for the NVMe SSD, rather than the single lane of SATA. Therefore, NVMe can transfer more data per second than SATA will ever be capable of. In fact, NVMe is up to 10x faster than older SATA technology and is capable of transferring data at up to 32Gb/s.  

Why is this Important?  

From a technical perspective, the more data your device can process in a shorter amount of time the better. An increased data transfer rate results in a more productive user experience, a more efficient device and a reduction in bottlenecks for your IT system. In terms of storage drives, the increased data transfer rate enables quicker and more efficient access to your saved information. This is essential for most businesses, including finance, healthcare, education and software development. 

NVMe technology innovates SSD technology to allow swifter access to data. This is just the beginning for NVMe and the potential growth and development of this technology is yet unexplored. With that in mind, NVMe technology has the potential for future advancement and evolution, whereas the general consensus is that SATA technology is beginning to be left behind in terms of the future development of speed.  

Find out more about the future of NVMe SSDs and the development of storage technology here. 

Does your business need NVMe or SATA?  

One of the key questions we get asked about SSD technology is, which do I need? NVMe offers many tempting benefits for your IT system, however it does have its shortcomings. NVMe is the more expensive option and so if your IT system needs a powerful component, you may be able to afford a higher capacity by choosing SATA. Furthermore, NVMe is not compatible with every device; as this is a newer form of technology, only the latest server generations are compatible with NVMe SSDs.  

In this latter case, the decision to upgrade your technology is a much larger discussion to have that will result in a greater cost for your business. Therefore, SATA is a better option for you (unless your device has more in common with fossils than current technology, then it may be worth an upgrade!).  

In comparison,  NVMe provides a more energy-efficient and faster component for your technology; it can transfer data more effectively and so requires less cooling which, in turn, cuts the running costs of your IT systems, ultimately saving your business money.  

Find out more about futureproofing your technology here or get in touch to find out more about NVMe technology and how it can upgrade your systems.