Looking forward: It’s not going to make the average hard drive faster, but adding support for them in the NVMe spec paves the way for faster ones to be in the works and for storage as a whole to finally move from SATA after two decades.
The 2.0 revision of the NVMe (fast non-volatile memory) standard brings with it new functionality and improved performance as expected, but also brings support for the humble hard drive.
The SATA III interface currently used by all HDDs and many SSDs shows its age more and more every day. Last significantly updated in 2008, its maximum throughput of 600MB / s has become a performance bottleneck for SSDs, while the NVMe specification allowed them to achieve their maximum speed through the high-width PCIe interface. band.
Now NVMe is also adding support for “rotational media” (or hard drives, for you and me). Today’s hard drives are still limited by the speed of the read and write arms within the drive itself; most are still far from saturating a SATA III interface the way an SSD does. On the other hand, some like Seagate’s new Mach 2 you can get close, with its up to 524MB / s of impressive sequential transfers for so-called “spinning rust,” and even step on the toes of inexpensive SATA SSDs.
As HDD sizes continue to increase in response to server and data center demands, dual-actuator drives like Mach.2 could become more common, but for consumers, the most tangible benefit will be device simplification. storage to a single solution. Between revision 2.0 adding support for hard drives and its revision in a modular specification, the clear intention is for NVMe to become the universal interface for storage drives, unifying interfaces and perhaps making more space available on ever-crowded consumer motherboards. .
On the other hand, as much as the NVMe standard is preparing to “Life after SATA”, It will likely take a while for hard drives that carry the interface to begin shipping and being sold in volume, and even longer until they begin to completely replace their SATA counterparts in the consumer space.
The NVMe 2.0 revision also introduces a number of SSD-specific features primarily aimed at improving control, endurance, and overload, and of particular interest is the introduction of Zoned Namespaces (ZNS), which allows both drive and host decide on the physical location of data on the drive to help increase capacity and performance. And, as expected, it will remain backward compatible with the specification.