Over the years, computers have gotten much faster. This can be attributed to a lot of things like better processors, and faster data transmission buses. The popular ones among these are PCIe and SATA. So, let’s see which is faster PCIe or SATA.
A head-to-head speed comparison will indicate that PCIe is the obvious winner. This connection standard offers high-speed transmission lanes with large data throughputs. It’s used by high-speed devices for this reason. All in all, PCIe is faster than SATA.
Both standards are great for different applications depending on the user’s needs. They provide a way to connect devices to the computer.
PCIe is more of a general-purpose slot for a wide range of expansion cards whereas SATA is used for a finite set of devices.
Which Is Faster PCIe or SATA?
With storage devices, you may want to go for fast transfer speeds if the resources are vital applications or maybe even the OS.
SATA allows you to do this, using a SATA SSD that can deliver high performance and improve the responsiveness of a computer.
At the same time, you may want even faster performance. When doing some productive work, like rendering or video editing, a faster drive means faster build times. For this reason, you may need to go for an even faster SSD. This is where PCIe comes in.
To better illustrate which is faster PCIe or SATA, let’s look at both technologies in detail.
What is SATA and What is Used For?
Serial ATA (SATA) is a standard that has been around for decades now and is very commonly used for mass storage devices as well as optical drives.
It is very popular and serves as the main connection for storage on most laptops and desktops, including some of the newer ones.
The reason for this that SATA is very common and has support for most popular devices of its category, storage.
The SATA interface also supplies power for the connected devices along with a channel for data transfer.
What are Different SATA Generations and Why Generations Matter?
There are three generations of the SATA interface but the current most widely used one is SATA III.
The third generation SATA standard offers high performance and made it possible for SATASSDs to perform at their peak.
It has a 6Gb/s interface that allows a high-speed connection between the computer and your storage devices.
It is an improvement over the previous generation as well as the first generation of the SATA interfaces that supported speeds of 3Gb/s and 1.5Gb/s respectively.
SATA is very popular on devices these days. It is also very scalable. Many motherboards come with several SATA ports allowing you to attach multiple storage devices in addition to having an optical drive.
Furthermore, due to its popularity, SATA is easier to integrate into current and future mainboard design as support for it and its associated devices will not be going away soon. However, it is slowly getting pushed out by NVMe, a PCIe bases standard.
What is PCIe and What is it Used For?
Peripheral Component Interconnect Express (PCIe), is an interface standard that’s designed and maintained by a group of companies that are collectively known as PCI-SIG.
The standard uses lanes to offer a high-speed connection between the cards installed in PCIe slots and the chipset.
The technology, much like SATA, has been developed and with each new iteration, we have had a new version.
Aside from that, each version also has different slot configurations depending on the number of lanes associated with the slot. These are X1, X4, X8, and X16 which have 1, 4, 8, and 16 lanes respectively. A rarer 32-lane slot exists too.
A lane is made up of a transmitting line and receiving line for data.
What are Different PCIe Generations?
The first generation of PCIe was invented to replace PCI by having a slot that would accommodate different kinds of expansion cards.
It allowed high-performance devices to be attached and standardized the connectors for compatibility with newer generations.
There are currently 5 generations. The third one is the most currently available. The fourth-generation was initially only supported by AMD chipsets whereas the fifth generation was released in 2019 but devices supporting it are yet to become mainstream.
PCIe 6.0 is expected to be announced sometime in 2022. Let’s see the third generation in action.
A single PCIe 3.0 lane can transmit data at about 985MB/s. This single-lane transfer is much higher than the full performance of a SATA III interface. This introduces a clear performance bottleneck for SATA.
But that’s not the end of it. If using a high-performance NVME SSD on an X4 slot, you can achieve theoretic transfer speeds of up to 3940MB/s.
But in total, a full-length third-gen PCIe slot can rum at 15760MB/s, which is over a dozen times the maximum threshold for SATA.
PCIe vs SATA
This comparison will clear up which is faster PCIe or SATA. PCIe can be used with a wide array of devices.
But the main reason to pick PCIe over SATA is the performance benefits. You get more data flowing around at a given time which can boost your productivity as well as performance.
One major drawback of PCIe is its cost. For example, a PCIe NVMe SSD storage device will cost more per gigabyte than a similar-sized SATA SSD.
Then again, SATA is more popular and highly supported. But it’s slowly being edged out by competition from PCIe for storage interface dominance.
Also Read: NVME vs SATA vs mSATA
You now know which is faster PCIe or SATA. Data indicates that SATA has a bottleneck and a maximum bandwidth which is significantly lower than that of PCIe.
The interfaces do different things. SATA leans more towards the storage angle whereas PCIe provides a standard interface for a wide range of computer expansion cards.
The reason why PCIe is so fast is its bandwidth. It is also connected directly to the chipset and has fast access to the CPU.
PCIe is also in active development and each new generation has been theoretically twice as fast as the preceding one.