Apple enables NVM Express protocol for faster SSD performance with OS X 10.10.3

Posted:
in macOS edited April 2015
Looking to take full advantage of PCI Express solid state drives found in the latest Mac models, including the new 12-inch MacBook, Apple built support for the NVM Express SSD Interface into its most recent OS X 10.10.3 Yosemite update.




Apple's all-new Photos app stole the spotlight when OS X 10.10.3 was released earlier this week, but the update brought a host of backend upgrades to bring parity between software and cutting edge hardware.

One of the more interesting additions is NVMe, a highly optimized PCIe-based protocol that promises faster SSD performance than current AHCI (Advanced Host Controller Interface) implementations. According to the protocol's webpage, NVMe is a register interface, command set and feature set developed "to unlock the potential of PCIe SSDs now and in the future, and standardize the PCIe SSD interface."

After updating to OS X 10.10.3, the new capability shows up in the hardware section of a Mac's System Report, though owners of older MacBook models are unlikely to see supported drives. The addition was spotted by MacRumors on Saturday.

Developed by an industry consortium including major industry players like Intel, NVMe is meant to replace aging AHCI technology, which was designed to maximize performance in systems using spinning hard drives. As noted by AnandTech, NVMe is optimized for lower latency operations afforded by solid state media, or non-volatile memory. Compared to AHCI, NVMe reduces latency by 50 percent. For example, Intel puts latency overhead in SCSI/SAS systems at 6 nanoseconds at 19,500 cycles, but quotes NVMe at 2.8 nanoseconds at 9,100 cycles (PDF link).


Source: Intel


Further, NVMe is designed to scale over the next decade, a lifecycle comparable to AHCI, which was introduced in 2004. And since Apple has been using the PCIe transport protocol since 2011, the company is in a good position to expeditiously roll out support across the entire Mac lineup.

The first Mac to take advantage of NVMe speed -- and accompanying power savings -- is Apple's newly released 12-inch MacBook with Retina display. Apple pulled a similar move when it introduced PCIe with the 2011 MacBook Air, a laptop designed with an eye on efficiency, not speed.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 56
    asciiascii Posts: 5,941member
    Intel has some awesome new NVM Express SSDs for the PC. The 750 Series gets 2400MB/s read and 1200MB/s write.

    [IMG ALT=""]http://forums.appleinsider.com/content/type/61/id/57804/width/500/height/1000[/IMG]


    Another change in 10.10.3 is massively improved support for 3rd party 4k monitors. If you look at Apple's 4K support page, they used to list a small set of supported monitors, but now they just say with OS X Yosemite v10.10.3 "most" 4K SST and MST monitors are supported.
    https://support.apple.com/en-au/HT202856


    Edit: also, something else I just noticed on the Apple 4K page - the Dell UP2715K 27-inch 5K display is now officially supported on the Mac Pro, so they don't have to be jealous of 5K iMac owners any more.
  • Reply 2 of 56
    aplnubaplnub Posts: 2,591member
    ascii wrote: »
    Intel has some awesome new NVM Express SSDs for the PC. The 750 Series gets 2400MB/s read and 1200MB/s write.

    1000


    Another change in 10.10.3 is massively improved support for 3rd party 4k monitors. If you look at Apple's 4K support page, they used to list a small set of supported monitors, but now they just say with OS X Yosemite v10.10.3 "most" 4K SST and MST monitors are supported.
    https://support.apple.com/en-au/HT202856


    Edit: also, something else I just noticed on the Apple 4K page - the Dell UP2715K 27-inch 5K display is now officially supported on the Mac Pro, so they don't have to be jealous of 5K iMac owners any more.

    Would love for someone to review this on a MacPro. I would snatch it up today.
  • Reply 3 of 56
    magman1979magman1979 Posts: 1,135member
    aplnub wrote: »
    Would love for someone to review this on a MacPro. I would snatch it up today.

    Unfortunately this wouldn't fit into a Mac Pro due to lack of full-size PCIe sockets, unless Intel makes one of these with a compatible connector...
  • Reply 4 of 56
    bsimpsenbsimpsen Posts: 282member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post



    Compared to AHCI, NVMe reduces latency by 50 percent. For example, Intel puts latency overhead in SCSI/SAS systems at 6 nanoseconds at 19,500 cycles, but quotes NVMe at 2.8 nanoseconds at 9,100 cycles (PDF link).

    Both uses of "nanoseconds" should be "microseconds", as indicated on page 9 of the linked PDF file.

  • Reply 5 of 56
    aaronjaaronj Posts: 1,595member

    Lordy I wish I had a legitimate reason to upgrade my Late 2012 iMac.  Well, a reason other than, "I just want a newer, better one."  I did say legitimate after all. :)

  • Reply 6 of 56
    magman1979 wrote: »
    Unfortunately this wouldn't fit into a Mac Pro due to lack of full-size PCIe sockets, unless Intel makes one of these with a compatible connector...

    Old Mac Pro...
  • Reply 7 of 56
    magman1979magman1979 Posts: 1,135member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by TheWhiteFalcon View Post





    Old Mac Pro...



    DOH!!! Forgot about that good oldie :)

  • Reply 8 of 56
    bobschlobbobschlob Posts: 1,074member
    There ya go. People complaining about the weak-ass CPU, and now your going to find this thing is faster than snot.
  • Reply 9 of 56
    pujones1pujones1 Posts: 153member
    Does anyone know if this applies to the new 13 inch MacBook Pro?
  • Reply 10 of 56
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Pujones1 View Post



    Does anyone know if this applies to the new 13 inch MacBook Pro?



     NVMExpress is there as an entry in the System Report, but reads "This computer doesn't contain any NVMExpress devices. If you installed NVMExpress devices, make sure they are connected properly and powered on."

  • Reply 11 of 56
    MarvinMarvin Posts: 14,224moderator
    ascii wrote: »
    Intel has some awesome new NVM Express SSDs for the PC. The 750 Series gets 2400MB/s read and 1200MB/s write.

    Combined with Intel's push into 3D NAND, which can produce affordable enterprise-grade SSD, I could see Apple switching away from Samsung NAND to Intel. PCIe 3 should help the bandwidth. It can get up to 4GB/s theoretical.

    Intel could go to $0.25/GB pricing for this (1TB = $250) and it would fit in laptops. This might be why the Macbook starts at 256GB rather than 128GB like the Air.
  • Reply 12 of 56
    cnocbuicnocbui Posts: 3,613member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by BobSchlob View Post



    There ya go. People complaining about the weak-ass CPU, and now your going to find this thing is faster than snot.



    No.

  • Reply 13 of 56
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by BobSchlob View Post



    There ya go. People complaining about the weak-ass CPU, and now your going to find this thing is faster than snot.

     

    People don't understand the new MacBook.  Apple traded off CPU performance to get rid of the fan, shrink the chassis, and keep a long run time with small batteries.  That's what most consumers want.  

     

    Apple understands that most users do absolutely nothing that requires a fast CPU.  For those users, a Core i7 CPU in a notebook computer is like a 75hp motor on their lawn mower.  Web surfing, word processing, email, watching videos, playing music, and maybe the occasional Sodoku or solitaire game isn't going to strain the CPU in the new Macbook; and that's about all that most users do.  They are not playing first person shooters, doing CGI rendering, or using their notebook for CAD work.

  • Reply 14 of 56
    aaronjaaronj Posts: 1,595member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Fred Maxwell View Post

     

     

    People don't understand the new MacBook.  Apple traded off CPU performance to get rid of the fan, shrink the chassis, and keep a long run time with small batteries.  That's what most consumers want.  

     

    Apple understands that most users do absolutely nothing that requires a fast CPU.  For those users, a Core i7 CPU in a notebook computer is like a 75hp motor on their lawn mower.  Web surfing, word processing, email, watching videos, playing music, and maybe the occasional Sodoku or solitaire game isn't going to strain the CPU in the new Macbook; and that's about all that most users do.




    But no!  NO! NO! NO!

     

    If it's not the fastest machine out there, then how will I ever buy it?!  It MUST have a Core i7, 32GB RAM, vast amounts of storage, at least 12 ports ... doesn't it? :(

     

    :)

  • Reply 15 of 56
    wizard69wizard69 Posts: 12,831member
    vintagemac wrote: »

     NVMExpress is there as an entry in the System Report, but reads "This computer doesn't contain any NVMExpress devices. If you installed NVMExpress devices, make sure they are connected properly and powered on."

    True, I had to check my computer the minute I heard about this support.

    What I see as a good thing here is that this should open up Apples computers to third party upgrades that fit into the connector Apple uses. If this is the interface Apple intends to use for the next decade I would imagine they will open up those slots for third party SSD's.

    Wishful thinking? I don't think so. Apple got on the high performance SSD bandwagon early and as such had to dodge the pot holes in the landscape until this standard firmed up.
  • Reply 16 of 56
    wizard69wizard69 Posts: 12,831member
    bobschlob wrote: »
    There ya go. People complaining about the weak-ass CPU, and now your going to find this thing is faster than snot.

    This is only part of the equation. I'm certain that many will end up liking the new Mac Book but I'm just a certain its performance will be a disappointment for many. There is a real need for snappy CPU's for users that might otherwise find this laptop to be ideal.
  • Reply 17 of 56
    asciiascii Posts: 5,941member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Fred Maxwell View Post

     

    Apple understands that most users do absolutely nothing that requires a fast CPU.  For those users, a Core i7 CPU in a notebook computer is like a 75hp motor on their lawn mower.  Web surfing, word processing, email, watching videos, playing music, and maybe the occasional Sodoku or solitaire game isn't going to strain the CPU in the new Macbook; and that's about all that most users do.  They are not playing first person shooters, doing CGI rendering, or using their notebook for CAD work.


    I think you could make the argument that most people don't need an i7, that maybe an i5 or i3 will do. But once you get down to the Core M, 1.2GHz(!), you're gonna notice the loss, even doing light stuff.

  • Reply 18 of 56
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by AaronJ View Post

     



    But no!  NO! NO! NO!

     

    If it's not the fastest machine out there, then how will I ever buy it?!  It MUST have a Core i7, 32GB RAM, vast amounts of storage, at least 12 ports ... doesn't it? :(

     

    :)


    I'm running on a hex core 3.47GHz Xeon Mac Pro with 24GB of RAM, 1TB SSD, enterprise class 4TB HGST drive, desktop 4TB HGST drive, and a 240GB SSD (I just had that one lying around).  And it's got a four port USB 3.0 expansion card.  But I'm not using it for the typical stuff that most people use notebook computers for.  

     

     

    I'm pretty psyched that we've finally hit the point where everything in the notebook design is not a life support system for a power-hungry, high-temperature CPU.  Apple can build a system that is ultra-light, thin, silent, with no moving parts, and have an all-day battery life -- and it still meets the needs of most people.  If I were a journalist, I'd buy one in a second.  

  • Reply 19 of 56
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by ascii View Post

     

    I think you could make the argument that most people don't need an i7, that maybe an i5 or i3 will do. But once you get down to the Core M, 1.2GHz(!), you're gonna notice the loss, even doing light stuff.


    Come on!  I started out on a 4MHz Z80 with 64 kilobytes of RAM.  

     

    Engadget had this to say:  Even though Apple went with a less-powerful processor than on the current Air, this new model still delivers brisk boot-up times, quick disk speeds and fast everyday performance.

  • Reply 20 of 56
    aaronjaaronj Posts: 1,595member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Fred Maxwell View Post

     

    I'm running on a hex core 3.47GHz Xeon Mac Pro with 24GB of RAM, 1TB SSD, enterprise class 4TB HGST drive, desktop 4TB HGST drive, and a 240GB SSD (I just had that one lying around).  And it's got a four port USB 3.0 expansion card.  But I'm not using it for the typical stuff that most people use notebook computers for.  

     

     

    I'm pretty psyched that we've finally hit the point where everything in the notebook design is not a life support system for a power-hungry, high-temperature CPU.  Apple can build a system that is ultra-light, thin, silent, with no moving parts, and have an all-day battery life -- and it still meets the needs of most people.  If I were a journalist, I'd buy one in a second.  




    Yep.  I think that's exactly the point.

     

    Sorry, but if I wanted to carry my 27" iMac around with me, I would buy a MacBook Pro.

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