Apple widens High Sierra NVMe flash storage support

The revelation that Apple has deliberately removed limitations on Non-Volatile Memory Express (NVMe) in its High Sierra beta operating system indicates that Macs of the future, including the iMac Pro and the ‘modular’ Mac Pro, and will be able to use any mass-storage flash drive.

The enhanced driver was uncovered by Apple geeks after the launch of the beta version of High Sierra and first reported by Apple news website MacObserver. The effect of this is that third-party NVMe drives won’t have any problem working on compatible motherboards – hacked drivers will no longer be necessary.

At present, support for NVMe drives containing the software required to boot a Mac is only available among the Hackintosh community – those that covert non-Apple hardware to run Mac OS – since officially there are no Macs with a drive slot for a standard NVMe drive.

On the overwhelming majority of the motherboards the community tested, the driver appeared to be able to connect to all third-party NVMe drives.

If Apple planned to persevere with its custom slot providing support for a limited number of drives, there would not have been any need to modify the NVMe mass storage driver so it supports the standard slot PC motherboards have.

Not much is known about the upcoming ‘modular’ Mac Pro, which won’t be released until next year. However, during Apple’s recent Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC), the iMac Pro was described as featuring dual NVMe drives in redundant array of independent disks (RAID) configuration to improve speed. It is unclear whether these drives rigidly adhere to the NVMe protocol or Apple’s version of it, which is anything but standard.

A knock-on of the enhanced driver support is that people with a 5,1 Mac Pro are now enjoying support for NVMe drives with a compatible Peripheral Component Interconnect Express (PCI-E) adapter, although they are still unable to boot from them.


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