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Ultra M.2

It is always good to stay on top of the latest technologies and be able to compare them to older technologies. Ultra M.2 is a form factor and interface for connecting drives ( and other things ) to system boards.

Ultra M.2 Drive - Samsung 970 EVO Plus SSD PCIe Gen3 - x4 NVMe

If you are looking for an M.2 Drive you can find our guide here: Best M.2 Drive.

Ultra M.2 vs M.2

Ultra M.2 is generally faster than regular M.2.

Ultra M.2 PCIe Gen3 x4 x4 NVMe Socket 3 configuration
M.2 PCIe Gen3 x2 x2 NVMe Socket 2 configuration

As far as I understand, Ultra M.2 is a marketing term from ASRock. It basically means any M.2 socket that supports PCIe Gen3 x4. The same socket can and often does support SATA. It doesn’t seem to be an actual part of an official specification. ASRock actually uses this term in feature lists for their system boards:

M.2 Sata (B+M key) vs M.2 NVMe x4 (M key)

M.2 sockets keyed for:

Speeds

Two factors that affect drives using the PCIe bus:

Using more slots will result in a faster drive.

GPU / Gaming Alert - M.2 NVMe uses up PCIe lanes. This means that fewer lanes will be available to other things such as your GPU.

Terminology: NVMe vs M.2 vs Sata 3

M.2:

NVMe:

SATA is:

Ultra M.2 Drive - Samsung 970 EVO Plus SSD PCIe Gen3 - x4 NVMe

M.2 sockets can support:

Protocol and Drivers Used:

M.2 modules can include other functionality besides disks. They can be used for Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and more.

It is easy to get a lot of the terms mixed up especially whent they sometimes seem to be used ambiguously. This chart should be helpful:

M.2 Drive Form Factor / Socket specification
Ultra M.2 Type of M.2 port with 4 PCIe lanes ( M key )
2.4” SATA Drive Form Factor - standard / normal sized SSD
mSATA Drive Form Factor - smaller card shaped SDD
PCIe Add-In Card Drive Form Factor - a card for an actual PCIe slot
SATA 3 Protocol / Connector
NVMe Protocol - uses PCIe
X4 Number of PCIe lanes used

SATA 3 the third revision of SATA or Serial AT Attachement. It is an interface for connecting storage media to a system’s host bus adapter (a card or builtin to the system board). NVMe or Non-Volatile Memory Express is an interface for connecting storage media through the PCIe Bus. This is generally much faster than SATA. M.2 is a drive form factor. You can actually have M.2 drives that use either NVMe connections or SATA connections. They both exist. You can actually even have USB based M.2 devices. M.2 used to be known as Next Generation Form Factor (NGFF).

M.2 Socket Types

Ultra M.2 - Socket Types - Samsung 970 EVO vs Samsung 860 EVO

M.2 Module Keys Chart

Key ID Notched pins Provided interfaces
A 8–15 PCIe ×2, USB 2.0, I2C and DP ×4
B 12–19 PCIe ×2, SATA, USB 2.0 and 3.0, audio, UIM, HSIC, SSIC, I2C and SMBus
C 16–23 Reserved for future use
D 20–27 Reserved for future use
E 24–31 PCIe ×2, USB 2.0, I2C, SDIO, UART and PCM
F 28–35 Future Memory Interface (FMI)
G 39–46 Reserved for custom use (unused in the M.2 specification)
H 43–50 Reserved for future use
J 47–54 Reserved for future use
K 51–58 Reserved for future use
L 55–62 Reserved for future use
M 59–66 PCIe ×4, SATA and SMBus

Types and Prodcuct Descriptions

Drives can be specified by type using a format that looks like this:

WWLL-HH-K-K
WWLL-HH-K

The potential values map out like this:

WW width
LL length
HH height
K key

For example:

TYPE 2242-D2-B-M

M.2 Drive Type Number

You also might see the size specified by a 4 digit number like this:

“PCIe M.2 2280”

In this case it is referring to a drive that is 22 mm wide and 80 mm long. The first two digits are the width and the last two digits are the length. Product descriptions will often look like this:

“Patriot Viper VPR100 M.2 2280 PCIe 1TB”

PCIE gen3 x4 Ultra M.2

You might see disks specified like this in product descriptions:

Which drive did I choose?

I have a 1 TB M.2 NVMe Drive as a primary OS drive in my Linux workstation. Besides booting my OS it also holds most of my development and testing VMs. I previously used a 1 TB SATA M.2 drive as my OS disk. I still have both disks installed in my system and could boot off of either one for the time being. Eventually I will probably move everything off of the old drive and wipe it. I might also run some bench marks on both of them at some point.

 M.2 Drive - SATA

For my NAS I don’t use anything even close to this. I have all old fashied, magnetic, spinning disks. This is totally fine for a NAS since I’m not really expecting it to be super responsive. The bottle neck is really the network.

Here is the video for the newer NVMe M.2 drive that I purchased:

Here is my write up on the newer NVMe x4 drive that I’ve ordered: Samsung 970 EVO Plus - 1TB - M.2 NVMe - V-NAND SSD.

Here is a video for the older SATA M.2 drive that I purchased:

Here is my write up on the drive from this video: Samsung 860 EVO - 1TB - SATA M 2 - V-NAND SSD.

Other Info

 Ultra M.2 - PCIe Gen3 - x4 NVMe

samsung 970 evo plus 1tb m.2 nvme ssd1 samsung 970 evo plus 1tb m.2 nvme ssd2 samsung 970 evo plus 1tb m.2 nvme ssd3 samsung 970 evo plus 1tb m.2 nvme ssd4 samsung 970 evo plus 1tb m.2 nvme ssd5 samsung 970 evo plus 1tb m.2 nvme ssd6 samsung 970 evo plus 1tb m.2 nvme ssd7 samsung 970 evo plus 1tb m.2 nvme ssd8 samsung 970 evo plus 1tb m.2 nvme ssd9 ultra m.2 samsung 970 vs 8601 ultra m.2 samsung 970 vs 8602 ultra m.2 samsung 970 vs 8603 ultra m.2 samsung 970 vs 8604 ultra m.2 samsung 970 vs 8605 ultra m.2 samsung 970 vs 8606

samsung 860 evo 1tb sata m.2 ssd1 samsung 860 evo 1tb sata m.2 ssd2 samsung 860 evo 1tb sata m.2 ssd3 samsung 860 evo 1tb sata m.2 ssd4 samsung 860 evo 1tb sata m.2 ssd5 samsung 860 evo 1tb sata m.2 ssd6 samsung 860 evo 1tb sata m.2 ssd7 samsung 860 evo 1tb sata m.2 ssd8 samsung 860 evo 1tb sata m.2 ssd9 samsung 970 evo plus 1tb m.2 nvme ssd10 samsung 970 evo plus 1tb m.2 nvme ssd11 samsung 970 evo plus 1tb m.2 nvme ssd12 samsung 970 evo plus 1tb m.2 nvme ssd13 samsung 970 evo plus 1tb m.2 nvme ssd14

ultra m.2 socket 2 ultra m.2 socket 3 ultra m.2 socket 4 ultra m.2 socket 5 ultra m.2 socket 6 ultra m.2 socket samsung 860 evo 1tb sata m.2 ssd10 samsung 860 evo 1tb sata m.2 ssd11

References