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Faster 'NVM Express' SSD Interface Arrives on Retina MacBook and OS X 10.10.3

Apple has quietly introduced support for the next generation NVM Express (NVMe) interface to SSD Flash drives in their latest OS X 10.10.3 update as well as in the new Retina MacBook which was released on April 10th.

nvmeSystem Report on new Retina MacBook

The NVMe software interface replaces the AHCI software interface in Apple's previous notebooks, and offers improved latency and performance over the old protocol. Anandtech offers a good overview between the technologies:
AHCI (Advanced Host Controller Interface) dates back to 2004 and was designed with hard drives in mind. While that doesn't rule out SSDs, AHCI is more optimized for high latency rotating media than low latency non-volatile storage. As a result AHCI can't take full advantage of SSDs and since the future is in non-volatile storage (like NAND and MRAM), the industry had to develop a software interface that abolishes the limits of AHCI.

The result is NVMe, short for Non-Volatile Memory Express.
The new protocol is not to be confused with the underlying hardware that connects the SSD to Apple's notebooks. Apple has already upgraded the physical interface to the much faster PCIe connectors a number of years ago.

Going into the future, NVMe will allow Apple's hardware to take further advantage of the performance of SSDs as well as improve battery life with less time spent transferring data. Intel expects NVMe to also be coming to tablets and phones in the near future.

Thanks Jonathan

Related Roundup: Retina MacBook
Buyer's Guide: MacBook (Neutral)


Top Rated Comments

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18 months ago

Apple doesn't innovate they said.


but in this case they didn't? they just implemented existing techniques
Rating: 12 Votes
18 months ago

Not even close. HDDs are for storage, SSDs are for the system. Is it THAT hard to understand? I hate to read this stuff over and over again. HDDs are CHEAP. You couldn't possibly afford a 50TB NAS storage filled with SSDs.


Not even close, just because YOU can't afford it doesn't mean it's not viable for everyone else.
Rating: 10 Votes
18 months ago

As it is software, I hope it will come to existing hardware in an OS update.


Pretty sure this requires a new controller chip too. So no retrograde upgrades.

arn
Rating: 9 Votes
18 months ago
I don't even know what "NVM Express" is.
Rating: 7 Votes
18 months ago

Awesome. Faster = better

Another nail on the HDD cofin.

Not even close. HDDs are for storage, SSDs are for the system. Is it THAT hard to understand? I hate to read this stuff over and over again. HDDs are CHEAP. You couldn't possibly afford a 50TB NAS storage filled with SSDs.

OMG! OMG! You're so dumb!!

I have no idea why deviant's statement was even the least bit controversial... He was responding to the idea that HDDs are dying out. They aren't.

http://www.forbes.com/sites/tomcoughlin/2014/02/10/hdd-decline-expected-to-slow-and-reverse/

Show me someone with an SSD Time Machine and I'll show you someone with more money than sense.

SSDs are great for pulling in small amounts of data quickly, but they are incredibly expensive for bulk storage. If accessing a particular block of data is a significant fraction of system time, SSD is the right place for it. If it's only accessed occasionally, HDD is the right place.

Flash is getting cheaper, but our appetite for data is growing rapidly as well.

The trend we're seeing is to put SSDs in portable devices, and push bulk storage out to secondary rotating media or, more commonly now, the cloud. The cloud is entirely driven by rotating media.

So no, HDDs aren't dying. They're just less visible to most people.
Rating: 7 Votes
18 months ago
If only their deliveries were as fast as their SSDs
Rating: 6 Votes
18 months ago

Image (http://s13.postimg.org/495ktx7if/Screen_Shot_2015_04_11_at_21_21_43.png)

Well I've just checked mine and i get the message : "This computer doesn't contain any NVMExpress devices. If you installed NVMExpress devices, make sure they are connected properly and powered on."

The NVMExpress devices should be discoverable over PCI-Express. It is the target hardware that needs to support NVMEXPRESS. {interesting, iOS capitalized that for me with no input from me}


I'd have hoped it would be, surely it has the hardware requirements?


The hardware requirements would be in the storage device. It is sort of like plugging a SCSI card into a PCI slot. However the SCSI card is useless without OS support. The same thing is going on here, NVMEXPRESS support is needed in the OS to support the new hardware interface.

Now the question is has anyone actually verified that this support is actually working with NVMEXPRESS hardware in the new Mac Book? I just checked my new MBP and it doesn't support NVME with the 512 GB drive.

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Not even close. HDDs are for storage, SSDs are for the system. Is it THAT hard to understand? I hate to read this stuff over and over again. HDDs are CHEAP. You couldn't possibly afford a 50TB NAS storage filled with SSDs.

A 512 GB SSD represents a lot of storage space, for some people all the space they need! For other people the cost of 50TB of SSD storage is a drop in the hat. Facts don't support your position.
Rating: 6 Votes
18 months ago

Not even close. HDDs are for storage, SSDs are for the system. Is it THAT hard to understand? I hate to read this stuff over and over again. HDDs are CHEAP. You couldn't possibly afford a 50TB NAS storage filled with SSDs.


Yeah, cause using a 50TB NAS is definitely common amongst Mac users...

SSD is progressively killing HDD for both system and storage. Most people don't deal with NAS or external storage in general. The few that do rarely store anywhere near 50TB of content.

A lot of people used to buy laptops with small SSDs (128/256GB) and buy an external HDD for file storage, but that was only because stuff like a 1TB SSD was prohibitively expensive, not because HDDs were somehow better at storing content. Now that SSD prices are getting lower, people won't go through the hassle of plugging external HDDs anymore.

HDDs will of course remain common for stuff like servers, but as far as consumer technology is concerned, they're effectively dying. Your comment feels like it's from 6-7 years ago.
Rating: 6 Votes
18 months ago

Not even close. HDDs are for storage, SSDs are for the system. Is it THAT hard to understand? I hate to read this stuff over and over again. HDDs are CHEAP. You couldn't possibly afford a 50TB NAS storage filled with SSDs.


Except, in this instance, we're talking about what's inside a MacBook... I think it's farcical that hdds are still the default in some Macs.

Keep your floppy disks and hdds mate, the rest of us will push on.
Rating: 5 Votes
18 months ago

You realize i was making a point that SSDs can't KILL HDDs? Goddammit think about people just having a movie collection or their favorite tv shows or something. That would require, say, 2-3TB. What are you gonna do, spend more money on your SSDs to store MOVIES which don't require anything as fast as SSDs than on your entire COMPUTER?
Man, it's like talking to a wall...


You are ridiculously rude and apparently out of touch. SSDs ARE killing HDDs. To say that they aren't is incredibly narrow minded. SSD capacity is increasing and the price is decreasing every year. It's only a matter of time before they are cheap enough and large enough to largely replace their out dated counterparts.
Rating: 4 Votes

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