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Comparing UFS 2.1 vs eMMC 5.1 – Specifications and Performance

Comparing UFS 2.1 vs eMMC 5.1

Today, almost all of us use smartphones today, and there are several options available to pick and choose from.

Any smartphone that you may be using they have two of the most noteworthy memory chips inside them. One of them is RAM which reads and writes the data relatively faster but cannot store it.

Also Read: Comparing UFS 2.0 vs 2.1 vs 2.2

As soon as the power is switched off the RAM, the data inside it is gone forever. Another memory chip that we will be discussing today is the one used for storing your data permanently.

It is the internal storage that helps you save your data in the long term including your apps, photos, music, and the operating system itself.

Related: UFS 3.1 vs UFS 4.0

The memory chip or the storage chip may not be as fast as the RAM but can help you save the information on them for a prolonged time. As you might have discovered by now, your smartphone is useless without a memory chip.

Today, two types of storage options are used – the UFS 2.1 and eMMC 5.1. Let us explore the best benefits offered by two storage options and how effective they can be.

Comparing UFS 2.1 vs eMMC 5.1 – UFS has better features than eMMC:

FeatureeMMCUFS
Transfer schemeSynchronousAsynchronous
Command QueueNo(Yes for eMMC5.1) Packed CommandsYes 32-Queue Depths
StateState TransitionStateless
InterfaceParallel & Half-DuplexSerial & Full-Duplex
PriorityNoSCSI Command Priority Higher-Priority LU
Abort SchemeHPITask Management Scheme
FeaturesLegacy eMMC FunctionsSame with eMMC
Command SetLegacy eMMC CommandsSCSI Commands
PartitionsBoot/RPMB/User Area8-LU(including Boot)/ RPMB
Host I/F SpeedDDR400Mhz3 GHz x2 Lane (6Ghz) (2.0)
I/O swing Level1.8V240mV (2.0)
Host Signal TypeCMOSLVDS
I/O Error DetectionCRC16 / 512ByteCRC16 / 272Byte
Buffer-ControlBusy signalUniprosupport, RTT
Sector Size512 Byte4096 Byte (RPMB 512 Bytes)

UFS 2.1 – An Overview

UFS stands for Universal Flash Storage. It is a storage technology standard. The standard dictates how the UFS-enabled chip interacts with the rest of the system on the smartphone.

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The standard was first introduced in 2011 and labeled as UFS 1.0. the UFS 2.0 standard came in 2013 and was four times faster.

Comparing UFS 2.0 vs 2.1 vs 2.2 – Specifications

UFS version

2.0

2.1

2.2

Year of launch.201320172020
Storage Capacity.128 GB, 256 GB512 GB, 1 TB, Automotive versions512 GB, 1 TB, Automotive versions
Sequential Read350 Mbps (with 128 GB), 850 Mbps (with 256 GB)860 Mbps (with 512GB)860 Mbps (with 512GB)
Sequential Write150 Mbps (with 128 GB), 260 Mbps (with 256 GB)255 Mbps (with 512GB)255 Mbps (with 512GB)
Random Read (IOP/sec)19,000 (with 128 GB), 45,000 (with 256 GB)42,000 (with 512GB)42,000 (with 512GB)
Random Write14,000 (with 128 GB), 40, 000 (with 256 GB)40,000 (with 512GB)40,000 (with 512GB )
Security Level.Same as the previous generation. UFS 1.120% more secure than the previous generation. UFS 2.0Same as the previous generation. UFS 2.1
WriteBoosterNoNoYes
Bandwidth per lane600 MB/s600 MB/s600 MB/s
Max. total bandwidth1200 MB/s1200 MB/s1200 MB/s
M-PHY version3.03.0?

However, when it comes to smartphones, the UFS as a storage standard was introduced in 2015.

The latest standard as it stands today is known as UFS 3.1. UFS 4.0 is already announced by Samsung and will be in mass production soon.

The UFS 2.1 (& 2.2) is the standard used in the next-generation mid-range mobile devices. You can find the new generation flash technology providing you with an enhanced degree of efficiency.

It is equipped with higher bandwidth and thus provides you access to a faster storage performance compared to the eMMC 5.1.

Image: Samsung

The UFS 2.1 comes with a maximum bandwidth of 800 MB per sec. This is four times faster than the eMMC 5.1.

You will find it 10 times faster than the eMMC 5.0 standard. The ability to reach the sequential read and write speeds of up to 624MB/s and 154MB/s, respectively, can make it ideal for low-power devices.

The storage capacity of the UFS 2.1 reads up to 128 GB.

What is eMMC?

The eMMC storage standard is the other flash storage standard and has been used even when you have a good number of UFS 2.1 storage currently available.

The eMMC flash storage standard is the managed NAND flash and was introduced by the MultiMediaCard Association (MMCA). The storage was developed as a smaller embedded version of MultiMediaCard, which was set back in 1997.

MMCA later handed over the rights for all its standards to JEDEC in 2008.

The eMMC 5.1 standard has an embedded NAND flash storage with a flash memory controller similar to the SD card but non-removable. You would find it offering you outstanding performance with the added controller, which manages data distribution and reliable writing to prevent data corruption.

Compared to the UFS 2.1, the eMMC standard is an older storage solution for low-power mobile devices. However, it has been observed to be relatively stable, and thus it is used in commercial applications such as e-readers, smartphones, and tablets even today.

However, if you look at it from a technical point of view, you would find it equipped with an advanced NAND flash memory. This will mean you will have the storage bundled with a controller part in addition to the flash memory.

What changes would UFS 2.1 bring in smartphone storage?

The UFS storage technology is designed to provide superior storage performance some of which is inherited from Enterprise storage solutions like SCSI. With the right implementation of the technology, you would find that the new UFS drives can give you a capability that can be as fast as the Solid State drives or SSDs on a PC or laptop.

The UFS standard is designed to help your smartphones boot faster than previous smartphones and other portable devices. They can also take considerably lesser time to copy files or even open apps.

Developed by JEDEC (Joint Electron Device Engineering Council), the standard already has a newer version labeled UFS 3.0. The UFS 3.0 version is two times faster than the UFS 2.1 standard.

As things stand now, you would find that the UFS 2.1 is used on a wide range of smartphones, including the OnePlus 5T, Galaxy S8, and HTC U11.

What is the significant difference between the UFS and eMMC standards?

Now that we have understood both the standards, it may be worthwhile to pay attention to find more details about them. Let us explore the two storage standards without the mention of the prefixes such as 2.1, 3, or 5.1.

UFS is a standard developed by the JEDEC. It is a storage solution that would determine and decide how the storage or memory chip on a device connects and exchanges information with the system.

This will help ensure that data transfer is faster, the apps are opening up quickly, and even the app installations are happening faster.

The UFS storage system or standard has arrived on smartphones only recently. However, it has been available on other devices for a long time. The storage standard is used on many devices, including cars, media players, VR systems, and Chromebooks.

The development of NAND technology has made advancement in flash technology possible.This brings us to the current generation of NAND flash called V-NAND/3D NAND.

The UFS standard was first introduced in 2011, and the UFS 2.0 was launched in 2013. The UFS 3.0 standard was established in January 2018, while UFS 3.1 debuted in January 2020. The first smartphone to launch the UFS 2.1 standard (or, for that matter, the first UFS standard ever on a smartphone) was Samsung Galaxy S6 in 2015.

The eMMC standard was launched in 1997 by the MMCA (MultiMediaCard Association). The traditional storage solution was available on many devices, including smartphones.

UFS 2.1 vs eMMC 5.1: Here is a quick technical summary of the differences:

  • UFS has Low voltage differential Signalling (LVDS) signaling interface.
  • UFS has a command Queue (CQ) to sort out commands to be carried out and allow multiple commands to be carried out.
  • eMMC is half-duplex; hence, reading or writing into the memory is possible.
  • SCSI architectural model: Another edge UFS has over eMMC is that it has SCSI Tagged Command Queuing. This allows multiple tasks to be handled simultaneously, while for eMMC, a process must finish for another to start.
  • UFS is a full-duplex interface and allows simultaneous read and write.
  • eMMC is slower than UFS.
  • UFS supports advanced features like Deep Sleep, write booster, and throttling notifications to the host.

How do the eMMC and UFS standards perform?

The storage solutions – whether UFS or eMMC, were introduced to ensure a faster file copy operation and improve the overall user experience you may have on the smartphone or other device.

If you look at the first generation, UFS storage launched in 2011, and it was observed to have three times faster read and write performance when compared to its counterpart.

If you look at the UFS 3.0, you will find access to sequential reads of 2,100MB/s while writing the data at a speed of 410MB/s. That way, you could work with the graphics-heavy 3D games.

When you compare it to the UFS 2.0 standard, you will find that the UFS 3.0 standard provides you access to a massive 6x rise in reading speed. You will also find the data writing speeds reaching up to 8X.

Compared with the eMMC 5.1 standard, it will provide you access to a 6x increase in random read and an 8.5x increase in random write speed. In contrast, the eMMC storage standard is one way.

You would find the apps crashing and stopping midway or even taking place at a languid pace, and you would know that the main culprit for the issue is eMMC storage. The eMMC storage top out at 400Mbps with a peak speed of around 2Gbps.

You will find that the UFS standard is a good standard and a more advanced option than the eMMC. From now on, we are not far from a future where all smartphone storage will essentially be on UFS, and eMMC will slowly be phased out.

In Conclusion

The eMMC standard was reintroduced in 2015, and a few significant improvements were introduced. The UFS standard, on the other hand, came with two new versions or new iterations.

There were two new versions after 2015, viz UFS 3.0 and 3.1 after the UFS 2.1 was launched in 2015. That means the eMMC version is slowly moving into oblivion, with each new development being introduced with the UFS standard.

Which standards would you prefer? With the recent applications requiring faster processing and better speed, it is essential to focus on a better standard and performance.

The graphics-intensive games and apps have been crucial to focus on. Of course, the budget smartphones do not have the UFS standard, and you will need to check out the high-end phones to find out if you can access the UFS standard.

In any case, we would expect almost all smartphones in the future to shift to UFS standard.

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