PCI Express or PCIe, is a computer motherboard expansion ports or interconnects. It stands for Peripheral Component Interconnect Express. Its used to expand the performance, functionality or connectivity in server or similar systems. NICs, graphic accelerator cards, RAM expansion modules, etc. are common examples of devices that are connected through PCIe slots. While they are here for performance improvements in the system, Solid-State Drive in form of NAND flash are newer technology for PCIe. While it is fastest way anything can be connected to the system, there are certain functionality that we need to give up. We will discuss about the PCIe SSD pros and cons in this particular article.
SSDs are in popularity because speed is what we need. If we can match the operational speed with the processing speed of the CPU, there will be absolutely no lag in the system. Moving closest to the system, PCIe provides the max speed of communication between the processor and the storage media. While hard drive rotational speed didn’t increase in decades, moving to the faster alternative is what introduced SSD, mSATA SSD, m.2 SSD and nor PCIe SSD. The PCIe SSD pros and cons are discussed in the sub-topics below.
PCIe SSD Pros
Speed PCIe 3.0, the latest one supports the transfer speed of up to 985MB/s per lane. PCIe devices can support 1x, 2x, 4x, 8x or 16x lanes meaning the transfer speed up to 15.76GB/s. Though you will not find any consumer grade SSD with that many lanes. You will find something with 2x or 4x data lanes. So, the max transfer speed will be up to 3.94GB/s.
Bidirectional PCIe is bidirectional that means it can read and write simultaneously. So, it eliminates protocol translation of SAS, SATA or FC storage. Being able to write and read simultaneously makes it faster than external devices.
Installation The installation process is fairly simple, easiest to install and use as well. External systems, especially those one with storage network and shared host are complex to implement. PCIe SSD just needs to be plugged to the PCIe slot, that’s it.
Closest to processor Flash on a PCIe car puts the SSD closest to the CPU memory within the server and affords a lower potential latency. It is closest to the CPU memory. Many overhead processes are not needed like communicating with the controllers to read and write to and from the system.
Price The per GB cost of PCIe SSD is much expensive than the normal SATA SSD. The amount you will be paying for the PCIe express is the highest in the hierarchy. Its for obvious reason that things higher up in the hierarchy are definitely faster and costlier.
Costs 1 PCIe slot If you are planning on shifting to the PCIe SSD, you are giving up most precious PCIe slot just for the sake of the speed. PCIe slot is for expansion and often is used with graphics cards, NICs and many more. Giving it up for storage option might not be that feasible.
Power consumption If you are doing normal task that are CPU or RAM intensive, then there won’t be any difference in consumption, but when you are constantly reading and transferring data, PCIe SSDs will use more energy and drain battery quickly.
Maintenance It is an internal, bus-connected device. PCIe SSD will cause you to reboot every time you install or replace making the maintenance job disruptive. Meaning maintenance job will make your system unavailable for precious amount of time.
It can be counted as pro or con depending on the situation. Being a dedicate not storage but treated as memory by the DMA, PCIe SSD can’t be shared with other servers. You can count it as the additional layer of security, or just a plain disadvantage.
The PCIe SSD pros and cons are not so much different from the ones of 2.5-inch SSD, because at the end they both are SSD. The limited PE cycle holds true for this as well. All the cons of SSD are still present, but the biggest pros is its speed and ability to bidirectionally read/write simultaneously. Depending on the pros and cons of PCIe SSD, though it is expensive, you can decide whether to switch to it or not. you can buy some of the PCIe SSD from Amazon as well at reasonable price.
A mSATA SSD is an SSD in much smaller formfactor. It is designed for use with portable, power-constrained devices like laptop, tablets and netbooks. The size of a mSATA is roughly like a business card. It has got all the functionality and benefits of SSD in it as it is an SSD, just with a different name. The main differences between the mSATA and a SATA SSD are physical size and the connectors. Rest, they both work on SATA III speeds meaning absolutely no difference in Read/Write speed. There are definitely some advantages of mSATA SSD over traditional 2.5-inch SSD as size while making compact definitely matters. mSATA SSD pros and cons are moreover like the SSD with some features added here and there.
With same SATA III speed but smaller formfactor, it can be beneficial to the smaller and more compact devices to save precious space. The only extra thing you will require is a special connector for the mSATA. You can somehow replace all your hard disk with mSATA SSD but you will face some other SSD drawbacks then like PE cycle, bit loss and others. You can buy some of the 1TB SSD from amazon. Some of the mSATA SSD pros and cons are listed in the sub-topics below.
Pros of mSATA SSD
Formfactor With the formfactor smaller than the 2.5-inch HDD and SSD, you can now save a lot of space. The devices like laptop, tablet and netbooks can now pack on some more hardware in their system as the storage option is small shaped with huge capacity.
Speed It runs on SATA III speed. The read speed can reach up to 551 Mb/sec and the write speed maxes at 304 Mb/sec. the maximum bandwidth of a mSATA SSD is 6 gigabits per second (Gbps).
Power consumption As a replacement for the HDD, mSATA SSD consumes very less power as there are no moving parts to power. This perk of mSATA SSD can be beneficial to run on the battery run systems like laptop, tablets, etc.
Storage There are storage options available up to terabyte of memory. They are not only huge, but fast as well. You can store a lot of bigger files just like finger span. Loading OS into the mSATA will give you amazingly surprising boot time. For this, you can either buy smaller sized mSATA SSD in combination with bigger cheaper HDD. OS can be on faster partition and rest of the file in the slower drive.
Shock/vibration resistance On the SSDs, you will see a protective hard case on them, on mSATA, it is bare piece of PCB with chips on them. Though, as it is securely mounted on the frame of the device, and having no movable parts, it is completely secure from shock and vibration. And it won’t produce any noise as well.
Price The mSATA SSD is even costlier per gigabyte of storage than the SSD. When compared mSATA SSD with regular SSD, you will find SSD cheaper for the same storage option. The only perk is formfactor.
Compatibility You must check for the compatibility of your device with the mSATA SSD as all mSATA SSD won’t be compatible with your system. You would better check before you buy one.
No performance difference SSD and mSATA SSD work on same SATA III speeds with same read/write speed. Physically they are different, but performance wise, they both are same i.e. you won’t be benefitted from switch between mSATA and regular SSD except the compactness.
Connector You will require to have a different mSATA connector already soldered on to the motherboard for the compatibility. The connectors of SSD and mSATA SSD are different. Most of the manufactures today include m.2 slot and mSATA slot in their devices so that the can be fitted later by the customer.
Limited PE cycle The PE cycle of the mSATA SSD is limited making it susceptible to the bit loss. This means you will slowly but surely lose the bits and start degrading your storage. This might also result in early death of the device.
Hence, these are some of the mSATA SSD pros and cons. The technology is moving faster and with advancement every day, we feel slower every day. The newer generation of storage devices are faster, smaller, safer, but costlier than it used to be. As a conclusion, switching to newer devices are your personal preference but deciding whether to switch for them or not should be done analyzing their pros and cons. mSATA SSD is great storage option, but it might not be for everyone out there.
Storage technology has really gone very far in few past decades. From the storage device of few MBs that could fit in the room to devices of few TB storage space that can fit in your palm, it is a long way. With the innovation, it is possible to fit in TBs of storage in the small laptops and handheld devices. Latest SSDs are available in the normal 2.5-inch form factor while an even latest solution is M.2 SSD. M.2 form factor brings the size of a solid-state drive (SSD) in the size of a USB stick. It is latest data transfer interface that could easily revolutionize the consumer market. M.2 SSD pros and cons are though something to consider.
While the older storage devices are disappearing, so are the ports for them in the Mother Board. M.2 SSD is an SSD in USB type form factor. It has some different connector pins that require the Mother Board to have support to. Without the M.2 SSD port in the Mother Board, it absolutely is of no use to you.
Pros and Cons of M.2 SSD
The pros and cons of the M.2 SSD might not be different from the SSD, but it is definitely different in many other senses.
Pros of M.2 SSD
Fast: If you have ever switched to SSD from the HDD, then you might have felt the difference. M.2 SSDs are designed to work with PCIe connector which has far more capability than the SATA connectors. That provides you speed even more than the traditional SATA SSDs.
Form Factor: With the form factor like a USB stick, it will definitely save up a lot of space in the system. This will help in making the system even compact and light. The weight of SSD too is reduced from 50g to around 7g through M.2 drives.
Future technology: Whether you like it or not, the newest storage technology is to stay as the future technology. All three innovations, M.2, PCIe and NVME are expected to be the market dominator in the future. With the change in connection ports, it opens up a new dimension for the Mother Board manufacturers to implement. Many bigger manufacturers like Samsung, Intel and few others seem interested in the production.
Reliability: It is just as reliable as the other SSD. It doesn’t have any movable parts like in HDD. M.2 SSD’s work in exact same way like 2.5-inch SSDs, so the long-term risk and their reliability is well known unlike any other new technologies.
Compatibility issue: 2 drive comes in different configurations. M.2 connectors only support certain ‘keys’, so finding the one that fits in your Mother Board might be a tough task. Before buying the drive, you might need to check the compatibility of M.2 drive with your Mother Board.
Price: Buying an SSD is expensive on its own. The cost per GB of a M.2 SSD is even costlier. If you are about to buy an M.2 SSD, you would better check your system first for any bottle-neck in speed. It is a costlier choice to switch to the M.2 SSD so you need to think before buying.
More to come: If you are the one thinking that M.2 might be the one to stay only option for storage, then you need to wait. M.2 drive has only recently become reasonable for the upper end of the market, so waiting for few more times might introduce you to the faster alternative.
Mother Board issue: Some Mother Boards have issue with the M.2 drive. When you use the M.2 drive, some Mother Board will make SATA ports unusable. If this is the case with you, running make storage option side by side might not be possible.
So, as a conclusion, the M.2 drive is a costlier alternative for the storage option. It might be faster if you are switching right from the HDD. But with technologies like M.2, SSD, NVME and SATA, the one that will fit your expectation and price is hard to find. You need to take good attention to your needs because these aren’t the cheap alternative. These are the few valued M.2 SSD pros and cons, its you to decide whether or not to switch.