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PCIe®—A Faster Interface

The PCIe interface, when used with the NVMe™ protocol, can significantly increase the speed of solid state drives. The PCIe connection uses four lanes of single serial data connections, which allows a four-fold speed increase over older, single-lane, interfaces.

What is PCIe?

PCIe, also known as PCI Express or Peripheral Component Interconnect Express, is a high-speed serial bus used in computers. This is a physical connection that transmits information and data from one device to another within the computer or between the computer and a peripheral piece of equipment.

The specifications for the PCIe interface are maintained and developed by the PCI Special Interest Group, a consortium of more than 900 companies that work together to form a common standard.

History of PCIe

PCIe was designed to replace the PCI, PCI-X, and AGP bus standards, which had been widely used prior to the mid-1990s.  As computer users demanded more plug-and-play ability and faster connections for peripherals, the need for a different standard emerged. PCIe delivered improvements over the older standards; higher maximum system throughput, lower I/O pin count, smaller physical footprint, better performance scaling, more detailed error detection and reporting, native hot-swap functionality, and hardware support for I/O virtualization. 

Although PCIe was designed for peripherals, computer makers recognized that the faster connection could improve the speed of internal hardware like solid state drives. SSDs were already faster than hard disk drives, but were being held back from further increases in speed by the existing connection standard, SATA. A new logical interface protocol, NVMe, was developed with the PCIe standard to allow solid state drives to achieve even greater speed.

PCIe SSD

PCIe performance

The implementation of multiple lanes for the PCIe connection is one of the most important features of the standard. A lane is a single serial data connection, similar to a SATA connection. PCIe uses four lanes for storage devices, resulting in data exchange that is four times faster than a SATA connection.

All of these enhancements come with another benefit, reduced power consumption. The combination of NVME, PCIe, and an SSD's lack of moving parts results in a storage drive that sips power, extending battery life for laptops, notebooks, and tablets.

Using PCIe as the connector, along with the NVMe protocol, results in a faster solid state drive.


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