M.2 NVMe as SATA possible?

Discussion in 'SSDs & Data Storage' started by SpeedyVV, Oct 13, 2017.

  1. SpeedyVV

    SpeedyVV [H]ardness Supreme

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    I have an oldish ASUS laptop, that has a M.2 SATA interface.

    I really do not feel like buying an M.2 SATA SSD as I would not later be able to use it as a NVMe SDD.

    n00b question: Can I, or are there NVMe SSDs that can operate in SATA mode as a boot drive?

    Laptop in question is a ASUS UX21A-K1010V circa 2014
     
  2. Blue Fox

    Blue Fox [H]ardForum Junkie

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    No such thing exists. You can always sell your used drive later on and buy something else.
     
  3. SpeedyVV

    SpeedyVV [H]ardness Supreme

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    Thanks, that was what I thought but was not sure. :-(
     
  4. Gronnie

    Gronnie [H]Lite

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    It would be very cost ineffective to manufacture as there would need to be host interface hardware for both SATA as well as NVme, along with corresponding firmware.
     
  5. SpeedyVV

    SpeedyVV [H]ardness Supreme

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    Correct me if I am wrong, but there are mobos whose M.2 ports support both NVMe and SATA SSDs, correct?
     
  6. Blue Fox

    Blue Fox [H]ardForum Junkie

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    Yes. It is considerably easier to that on the motherboard side.
     
  7. ryan_975

    ryan_975 [H]ardForum Junkie

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    Motherboards generally already have SATA controllers and PCIe lanes, so it's trivial to route some of the M.2 pins to one of the chipset's SATA ports and some to its PCIe lanes. To have the device support both, it has to have both types of controllers, and the firmware to detect which one is active... or ratther it'll have to have a provision for the user pick one to be active because otherwise the motherboard could see the same device in two different places. That adds cost and complexity that's just not worth it.
     
  8. chx

    chx Gawd

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    NVMe drives in general are unusable outside of M keyed M.2 slots on a motherboard (laptop or desktop, doesn't matter). While you can (easily) get a USB-to-SATA converter, Intel does not let an empty Thunderbolt-to-NVMe enclosure to be sold so we are SOL.

    Maybe one could build a very small ARM computer which provides a PCIe 2.0 x2 M.2 key M socket and then turns the data around and provides it as a USB C (USB 3.1 Gen 2) host. Anyone wants to do the Kickstarter :D ?
     
    Last edited: Oct 15, 2017
  9. MixManSC

    MixManSC [H]ardness Supreme

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    ???? NVMe drives can work in just about any reasonably modern desktop using a PCIe M.2 adapter card but NVMe drive is not going to be bootable unless the system also has a modern UEFI bios specifically with NVMe boot device support. There are a few hacks in a few systems for that but in machines without the specific support for them in the bios the NVMe drive will only show up in Windows after booting and drivers get installed.

    I should also point out that there are also cabled NVMe 2.5" form factor drives as well but those are primarily targeted at servers.

    I'm using (and booting from) a PCIe card with 4 M.2 slots on it. Mine is one of the few rarer scenarios though - for a multi-port M.2 card either the card or the motherboard must have a PLX chip to handle the PCIe bifurcation. On mine, this is a Dell T7910 Precision workstation and the card actually came with the system. The card itself does not have a PLX chip, its on the mobo. I cannot hardware raid the multiple NVMe drives though and can only boot from the first one on the card. Once in Windows I can software raid the other 3 if I wanted to using Storage Spaces.
     
    Last edited: Aug 4, 2018
  10. kirbyrj

    kirbyrj Why oh why didn't I take the BLUE pill?

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    You don't need a UEFI bios per se. You just need an NVMe drive that has a build on oprom that passes through to the legacy bios. For example: Samsung 950 Pro has it and it boots fine with my X58 Sabertooth.
     
  11. chx

    chx Gawd

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    Eh, that's splitting hairs. Whether you make M.2 slots out of the PCIe slots on the motherboard, have them integrated, use OCuLink... doesn't matter. What matters is there is no external converter like SATA has because USB C is too new and too tricky and Thunderbolt is not allowed empty.
     
  12. chx

    chx Gawd

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    I must note now you can get an USB to NVMe https://www.cnx-software.com/2018/06/12/lm-902-usb3-1-gen2-to-nvme-pcie-m-2-ssd-enclosure/

    https://www.ebay.com/itm/123219669453 works even with USB 3.0 meaning you can connect your disk to an older machine, copy data, drop the M.2 key M stick in a new machine and have all your data. Or the other way round, remove stick from machine, plug it in a router, booom, works.

    Cheaper version: https://www.aliexpress.com/item/JEY...-disk-box-TYPE-C3-1-JMS583-m/32874418125.html

    And Intel relented and allowed an empty m.2 to Thunderbolt box too although it's very expensive because it's not one but two m.2 slots and the necessary PCIe switch: Netstor NA611TB3. Finally, one of the popular uses of the upcoming Akitio Node Duo surely will be a GPU + an m.2 in a carrier board.
     
  13. BlueLineSwinger

    BlueLineSwinger Limp Gawd

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    Yeah, those USB-NVMe adapters really only make sense for specific cases, like data recovery and imaging/cloning. It's really kinda pointless for most other uses (and kinda pricy for a one-off use). The USB connection severely handicaps the throughput of any current NVMe SSD, bringing it down to not much faster than a USB-SATA setup. When you consider that NVMe drives cost nearly twice that of like-capacity SATA units, and that adapter is also about twice the price of a USB-SATA unit, IMHO it moves from pointless to silly for general usage.

    And that's ignoring that for typical gaming, office/productivity, internet usage, etc. (i.e., what 99+% of people are doing), there's no real-life benefit to NVMe over SATA even when the NVMe drive gets a full 4x PCIe 3.0 connection.