Following the increase in popularity of SSDs and the demand for slimmer and lighter devices, more companies are now looking at PCIE-based storage as a replacement for the SATA interface. Essentially, these drives connect directly in to PCIE (Peripheral Component Interconnect Express) slots, meaning that data transfer rates are much faster than traditional hard drives. In addition, by using these devices the overall form factor of the host machine can be greatly reduced as these drives take up much less space compared to mechanical hard drives.
These PCIE drives are mostly SSD based, and can either be slotted directly in to the motherboard, or in some cases, soldered directly on to it. Naturally, this presents a unique challenge in terms of SSD recovery. Removable PCIE drives (ie. those that are not soldered directly to the motherboard) can be treated the same way as SATA-based SSDs. Recovery can still be complex and time-consuming, but physically working on the device is a possibility.
Once we enter the realm of fixed PCIE drives, things become much more complicated. Although these drives are very new, we can reasonably speculate that data recovery will be much more complicated. The main challenge would be to remove the drive from the motherboard itself – assuming this is even possible. There is also the potential that the drive could be damaged during this process, further increasing the complexity of the recovery.
The other implications for your data are the fact that you would find it near impossible to upgrade your storage (if the drive is soldered), and the current cost of many of these PCIE-based drives is astronomical. Furthermore, if you have a fixed/soldered PCIE drive, should you wish to increase your local storage capacity, you would be forced to use external drives. Doing so could potentially increase the risk of data loss through overheating, physical damage, electronics problems and so on.
It’s easy to see why this new interface is gaining popularity, but if data recovery is a concern, then it might be wise to consider other options for the time being. At least, until the reliability of these PCIE drives has been thoroughly tested.