The tech world births several innovations, especially when it comes to phones. The eMMC or embedded MultiMediaCard continues to be the flash memory standard. Meanwhile, the UFS or Universal Flash Storage is quietly taking over its pie at a gradual pace. This new standard is faster and quicker in accessing data without sacrificing power consumption.
But at the end of the day, is that the only difference between the two? Or, is there something else than it meets the eye. What is UFS 3.0 capable of?
That's what we will figure in this comparison today as we pit the newer UFS standard against the older (but popular) eMMC storage standard.
As it's going to be a long piece, let's jump straight one, shall we?
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UFS and eMMC: What Are They
UFS, unveiled by standards body JEDEC, is a storage solution that determines how the storage chip of a device connects and exchanges information with the rest of the system. This system is responsible for speeding up the data transfer, app load time, and also the app installation time on most phones. And contrary to popular thinking, UFS is not just limited to smartphones.
It is equally used in cars' media players, VR systems, and Chromebooks. While the first iteration of UFS was announced in 2011, the UFS 2.0 standard was published in 2013. The UFS 3.0 standard was unveiled in January 2018 while UFS 3.1 made a debut in January 2020.
If we talk strictly about phones, the Samsung Galaxy S6 was the first phone to launch with UFS storage in 2015.
The MMCA (MultiMediaCard Association) introduced eMMC in 1997. So it's quite a traditional storage solution. However, it's still stable and dominantly used in several consumer electronics, such as e-readers, smartphones, and tablets, among others.
On a more technical level, eMMC is an advanced NAND flash memory that bundles a controller apart from the flash memory.
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Performance: How Fast Do eMMC and UFS Work
Before we get down to it, let's make one thing clear. The storage solutions were designed for faster file copying to improve your overall usage experience on phones and other devices.
When it comes to the first generation UFS, it provided a 3-fold faster read-write speeds over its counterpart.
If we talk numbers, UFS 3.0 offers sequential reads of 2,100MB/s while writing the data at a speed of 410MB/s. That means, your graphics-heavy 3D games will load significantly quick. Compared to UFS 2.0, there's a massive 6x rise in reading speed while the increase in data writing speed is around 8x.
When you compare that with eMMC 5.1, there's a 6x increase in random read and an 8.5x increase in sequential reads. All in all, UFS 3.0 features a peak data transfer rate of 23.2 Gbps. That said, those numbers represent theoretical speeds and the real-world numbers will be different.
All these numbers eventually translate into better multitasking and faster turnaround time. And the sequential read-write factor is the cherry on top. This boost in speed can be seen when you open a new app or capture a high-resolution photo or a 4K video.
As opposed to it, eMMC is capable of one-way traffic. If you see apps crashing midway or transfers taking place in snail's pace, you know the reason behind that. So if you have to multitask on your phone with eMMC storage, the system will wait for a process to finish before moving to the next one. And well, in this fast-paced world, you have to be very patient with the slow speed. The eMMC speeds top out at 400Mbps with a peak speed of around 2Gbps.
UFS is an advanced storage technology compared to eMMC. It's safe to call UFS as the future of flash storage on smartphones and other devices. That said, eMMC standard is not going anywhere, thanks to the low cost.
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UFS and RAM
A smartphone's performance depends on many factors, and the RAM (Random Access Memory) plays a vital role in it. In the simplest terms, RAM is used by apps and games to rapidly move around huge chunks of data between the processing core and the file system.
At the same time, it prevents the apps and games from making frequent calls to the file system or core to reduce the turnaround time for a call.
For example, if you are playing a graphic intensive game like Fortnite or PUBG (see PUBG wallpapers), there is plenty of data that the phone needs to move around and the RAM acts as a temporary data storage.
And that's where RAM with higher bandwidth like LPDDR3, LPDDR4, LPDDR4X, and LPDDR5 come into the picture. These memory management systems allow for a higher amount of data to be moved and are accompanied by low power consumption.
The newer LPDDR5 RAM can reach speed up to 6,400Mbps theoretically. Meanwhile, the LPDDR4 provided a maximum speed of up to 4,266Mbps.
When it comes to a phone's performance, both the RAM and the UFS complement each other to give the performance a solid boost, especially when it comes to running memory-intensive jobs like playing 4K videos, taking burst photos, or playing high-resolution 3D games.
Phones With UFS 3.0
The OnePlus 7 Pro was one of the first phones to come with UFS 3.0 back in 2019. Since then, there have been quite a few flagship phones with UFS 3.0.
The Samsung Galaxy S20 packs a bouquet of fantastic features such as a WQHD+ display, a 120 Hz refresh rate, and is powered by the Qualcomm Snapdragon 865. It is buttery smooth, and fast and the clean look of the One UI 2.0 adds to the overall phone experience.
This phone has a class-leading camera that delivers impressive performance. Plus, the phone comes with wireless charging, an IP68 rating, and it is water-resistant. Also, it's powered by a 4,000mAh battery, which lasts more than a day on a single charge.
The OnePlus 8 Pro is the newest smartphone from OnePlus. Along with UFS 3.0 and LPDDR5 RAM, it brings a slew of interesting features to the table. You get a smooth 120Hz display coupled with a Quad HD+ screen. And like its counterpart above, this one is also powered by the Snapdragon 865 mobile processor.
One of the primary highlights of the OnePlus 8 Pro is the 30W Warp Charge. This proprietary charging technology juices up the phone fast and can top its battery up to 50% in just 30 minutes.
Its triple-camera setup delivers amazing photos. And unlike its predecessors, the 8 Pro sports flagship features like wireless charging and water resistance.
Another smartphone to feature UFS 3.0 is the Asus ROG Phone 2. With Snapdragon 865 in tow and 12GB of RAM, it is a powerful gaming phone. It offers a large 6.6-inch OLED screen and a fantastic 120Hz refresh rate. Thanks to the above features, you get seamless performance coupled with smooth visuals.
If you are a serious gamer, you can check out the tailor-made accessories. The phone lets you connect up to seven different gaming accessories via the extra USB-C ports.
It is powered by a massive 5,000mAh of battery and runs on Android 9 Pie and Asus' proprietary ROG UI.
Which Is Storage Is Better For You
To answer this question, you have to weigh several options, such as what you’re going to use your device for, the kind of device you want to get, and your budget.
As noted earlier, eMMC storage is found on budget and inexpensive consumer electronics. These devices are designed for light use such as streaming media, browsing the internet, or just sending and receiving messages over the internet.
On the other hand, UFS storage finds its usage on devices that promises high performance, speed, and multitasking.
The eMMC standard doesn't bring any major improvements compared to UFS, you should invest in the latter if you plan to buy a future-proof device while you can multitask without hitting any bottlenecks.
Reserved storage is a nifty feature in Windows 10 that can bail you out when your computer's storage is almost full or filled up. Read our next article to find out how it works.
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