What Is eMMC Memory?

Learn all about this affordable computer storage option

A photo of a person sitting at a desk and holding a stylus and a folded Samsung Chromebook tablet style computer.

Brooke Cagle/Unsplash

If you're planning on getting a compact and budget-friendly laptop, it's important to keep in mind the internal storage offered by such laptops is likely to be eMMC storage. Before you commit to buying a laptop with eMMC storage, it's important to really consider if eMMC storage has the features you need and if you can accept its limitations. The type you end up getting can determine the overall performance and speed of your computer.

What Is eMMC Storage?

eMMC stands for "embedded MultiMediaCard" and it's essentially a type of internal storage embedded or attached to a device or PC's motherboard. According to PCMag, eMMC storage uses the MultiMediaCard standard and is based on NAND flash memory. The NAND flash memory used in eMMC storage isn't unique to eMMC and can also be found in other types of storage like Secure Digital (SD) cards, solid-state drives (SSD), and USB drives.

eMMC storage is usually found in budget-friendly laptops, as well as tablets, Chromebooks, tablet PCs, 2-in-1 computers, and smartphones.

How eMMC Storage Works

According to SearchStorage, eMMC chips basically act as the main storage for smaller devices and compact PCs. These chips are comprised of a controller and NAND flash memory, both of which are within "a single integrated circuit."

This circuit connects to a given device's main circuit board. From there, the eMMC chip's controller is able to handle the task of putting data in storage. With that task handled, the device's CPU can focus on other tasks, rather than waste its limited power and speed on storage concerns. The use of NAND flash memory in an eMMC chip also uses little to no power to hold onto data.

Many devices, including PCs, offer a variety of eMMC storage sizes, which can vary from about 32GB to 256 GB. Mid-range sizes include 64GB and 128GB.

How Fast Is eMMC Storage?

According to Windows Central, eMMC storage, at its current standard, is capable of reaching transfer speeds of up to 400 MB/s. This isn't a particularly slow speed for mobile devices or compact laptops, but it is considered much slower than other storage options offered for larger, more expensive laptops.

What We Like

  • Devices with eMMC storage tend to be cheaper and portable.

What We Don't Like

  • The transfer rate eMMC storage-based devices offer is a bit slow compared to other storage options.

  • Available storage sizes for eMMC are still a bit too small if you want to do anything more than surf the web and watch movies.

  • Due to the smaller storage sizes, opting for eMMC may require investing in a cloud storage subscription so you can save your work or other files.

Who Is eMMC Storage For?

eMMC storage is best for customers looking for a cheap, portable PC or mobile device; people whose computing needs don't exceed web browsing and streaming media, and can afford a cloud storage subscription or other external storage option.

If your needs include other computing tasks like gaming, editing video, or similar activities, it's best to look at other, larger storage options like solid-state drives.