spacepizza
Posts: 2
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M.2 on Raspberry Pi 4

Wed Jan 02, 2019 4:31 am

Now that M.2 has been around for quite a few years and there are quite a few M.2 cards that have USB 3.0, PCIe 4x, and SATA cards, not to mention all of those SSDs, wouldn't it be a good idea to ship future Pi generations with a M.2 port to expand the functionality of the systems, without significantly increasing the price?

The idea is that theoretically the Pi might be able to support the M.2 protocal(s), and greatly expand the functionality of the future Pi boards. People could boot off of the SSD, or hook up old HDDs to a SATA-M.2 converter. They could also get the greatly desired USB 3.0 that we all seem to want. To boot, most of the M.2 cards are actualy pretty cheap, other than the SSDs.

Even cooler though, was that I saw this guy hook up a Nvidia 2080 to his LattePanda and run GTA on it. Link is here:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PCd3HtRfQ8k

Now, I am aware that the Pi isn't a PC like the LattePanda; it doesn't have the same hardware, or the drivers to do this (yet) so please don't be distracted by this and forget the bigger picture. What I am really trying to say is that if we had a working way to connect a GPU to a Pi, via M.2-PCIe converter, then we are significantly closer to being able to use older GPUs with our Pis once the drivers are sorted out. (I understand that drivers aren't trivial to work with) Imagine what we could do with a real GPU on a Pi! OpenCL support, modern gaming, CAD, etc... It would be amazing.

I am just wondering if anyone else likes this idea and what they think. Is adding a M.2 feasible? Is it already being planned or is there a reason why it wouldn't work?

Furthermore, what would be better, if the port was on the underside or the top side of the PI. It would be inconveinient if it was on the bottom, but any card would have to be connected perpendicular to the board (sticking straight up in the air) if it was on the top side.

jamesh
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Re: M.2 on Raspberry Pi 4

Wed Jan 02, 2019 9:48 am

M.2 requires a PCI interface which the Pi does not have. So it's a non-starter.

As for the future, we never announce features of future products in advance.
Principal Software Engineer at Raspberry Pi (Trading) Ltd.
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fruitoftheloom
Posts: 18564
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Re: M.2 on Raspberry Pi 4

Wed Jan 02, 2019 10:22 am

spacepizza wrote:
Wed Jan 02, 2019 4:31 am
Now that M.2 has been around for quite a few years and there are quite a few M.2 cards that have USB 3.0, PCIe 4x, and SATA cards, not to mention all of those SSDs, wouldn't it be a good idea to ship future Pi generations with a M.2 port to expand the functionality of the systems, without significantly increasing the price?

The idea is that theoretically the Pi might be able to support the M.2 protocal(s), and greatly expand the functionality of the future Pi boards. People could boot off of the SSD, or hook up old HDDs to a SATA-M.2 converter. They could also get the greatly desired USB 3.0 that we all seem to want. To boot, most of the M.2 cards are actualy pretty cheap, other than the SSDs.

Even cooler though, was that I saw this guy hook up a Nvidia 2080 to his LattePanda and run GTA on it. Link is here:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PCd3HtRfQ8k

Now, I am aware that the Pi isn't a PC like the LattePanda; it doesn't have the same hardware, or the drivers to do this (yet) so please don't be distracted by this and forget the bigger picture. What I am really trying to say is that if we had a working way to connect a GPU to a Pi, via M.2-PCIe converter, then we are significantly closer to being able to use older GPUs with our Pis once the drivers are sorted out. (I understand that drivers aren't trivial to work with) Imagine what we could do with a real GPU on a Pi! OpenCL support, modern gaming, CAD, etc... It would be amazing.

I am just wondering if anyone else likes this idea and what they think. Is adding a M.2 feasible? Is it already being planned or is there a reason why it wouldn't work?

Furthermore, what would be better, if the port was on the underside or the top side of the PI. It would be inconveinient if it was on the bottom, but any card would have to be connected perpendicular to the board (sticking straight up in the air) if it was on the top side.

4 x the price of the Raspberry Pi and about the best you will find, though does not support PCIe graphics:

http://shop.t-firefly.com/goods.php?id=45

Please can you purchase and report back quality of product and what if any community support.
adieu

My other Computer is an Asus CS10 ChromeBit

chwe
Posts: 88
Joined: Tue Jul 31, 2018 1:35 pm

Re: M.2 on Raspberry Pi 4

Wed Jan 02, 2019 5:08 pm

fruitoftheloom wrote:
Wed Jan 02, 2019 10:22 am
4 x the price of the Raspberry Pi and about the best you will find, though does not support PCIe graphics:

http://shop.t-firefly.com/goods.php?id=45

Please can you purchase and report back quality of product and what if any community support.
or https://www.pine64.org/?page_id=61454 for roughly double the price (2GB variant) of a pi with a normal PCI slot... :lol: and indeed.. those board have a active community just open your eyes.. ;)

keep in mind, m.2 is just the connector, depending on what's wired to it things might work or might not work. And not every boardmaker wires the same stuff to this connector (e.g. the usb lanes which should be wired are often not there)... So things get complicated here and you need to know what's there before you buy a random m.2 card.

But as stated by jamesh, as long as the SoC doesn't allow it, it's not gonna happen...

Heater
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Re: M.2 on Raspberry Pi 4

Wed Jan 02, 2019 5:30 pm

chwe,
...just open your eyes.
I believe our eyes are open enough.
...roughly double the price...
Yep. Thought so.

If and when we need something with more capabilities than the Pi it's great to know other options are available. I have used some.

Otherwise it's great that the Pi is available as cheaply as it is.

Of course if the guys at Pi Towers figure out how to do the same at the same price that would be a bonus.

spacepizza
Posts: 2
Joined: Wed Jan 02, 2019 3:22 am

Re: M.2 on Raspberry Pi 4

Thu Jan 03, 2019 2:16 am

Thanks for replying.

I wasn't clear enough about what I asked; I want to know if the Pi's SoC can support the M.2/PCIe protocol and if it is reasonable to expect to the this implemented on future gen Pi systems.

I have been using my 2 Pi boards for a long time and I am using one as a desktop right now, and I would be incredibly awesome to be able to have a newer,faster, upgradeable GPU.

Why could, if the proper drivers where written, implement a PCI interface on the GPIO block?

W. H. Heydt
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Re: M.2 on Raspberry Pi 4

Thu Jan 03, 2019 2:34 am

spacepizza wrote:
Thu Jan 03, 2019 2:16 am
Thanks for replying.

I wasn't clear enough about what I asked; I want to know if the Pi's SoC can support the M.2/PCIe protocol and if it is reasonable to expect to the this implemented on future gen Pi systems.
Current Pi? Not without a lot of extra--and probably rather pricey--hardware. It would almost certainly be far slower than you'd expect as well. The Pi SOCs don't have any really fast peripheral interfaces. The best they've got is USB 2 (480Mb/s) and only one of those.

Future gen? Not very likely. Why would anyone spend time, money and effort adding what is, basically a x86-64 interface to an ARM-based SoC that isn't planned to be stuck in server farm? That said, technological crystal balls are notoriously cloudy. But I still wouldn't expect to see any sort of PCI interface bolted onto a Pi SoC.
I have been using my 2 Pi boards for a long time and I am using one as a desktop right now, and I would be incredibly awesome to be able to have a newer,faster, upgradeable GPU.
There is a decent chance that the next iteration of Pi will have a better version of the VC4. Call it a VC5, for lack of any better name. Broadcom has SoCs with something they are calling "VC5" and the chance of seeing that show up in a Pi is probably pretty good. So....upgraded GPU, but really not likely to have an upgradeable GPU.
Why could, if the proper drivers where written, implement a PCI interface on the GPIO block?
I don't think any of the GPIO pins can handle the required speed.

chwe
Posts: 88
Joined: Tue Jul 31, 2018 1:35 pm

Re: M.2 on Raspberry Pi 4

Thu Jan 03, 2019 3:20 am

W. H. Heydt wrote:
Thu Jan 03, 2019 2:34 am
spacepizza wrote:
Thu Jan 03, 2019 2:16 am
Future gen? Not very likely. Why would anyone spend time, money and effort adding what is, basically a x86-64 interface to an ARM-based SoC that isn't planned to be stuck in server farm? That said, technological crystal balls are notoriously cloudy. But I still wouldn't expect to see any sort of PCI interface bolted onto a Pi SoC.
ohh SoC maker started this years ago.. and they still continuing to do it.. :P The RK3399 has a PCIe 4x.. the MT7623 has PCIe 2x if I'm not completely wrong.. the Allwinner H6 has also a PCIe interface (it seems to be crippled but that's a different story).. The newer amlogics as well (S905Y2 & S905X2).. so there are SoCs in the wild which offer PCIe..

For the 'upgradeble' graphics card.. There are users claiming that they could run their nVidia graphics card on such an arm board (actually I never tried it and I don't see a reason to do it).. I don't see that this makes sense at all.. Maybe for *random fancy coin*-miners but for the rest? Where should an graphics card help you on an SBC? I personally don't see a reason to connect a high power graphics card to a low power SBC. For me it's just a different use-case.

shivansps
Posts: 24
Joined: Thu Jan 26, 2012 5:11 pm

Re: M.2 on Raspberry Pi 4

Thu Jan 03, 2019 4:54 am

Probably because with Windows 10 ARM being able to run any x86 app, having a good igp means a cheap gaming box. You really dont need a lot for esport games. Then again you do need a ton of ram for that.

and from were you are going to get an ARM nvidia driver?...


at any case i do think the RPI needs just a little better SoC... maybe one with built-in NIC and at least 1 sata(and with that you could support 1 sata based M2). Not sure if broadcom has anything better. PCI-E definately is something the RPI do not need.

plugwash
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Re: M.2 on Raspberry Pi 4

Thu Jan 03, 2019 5:23 am

spacepizza wrote:
Wed Jan 02, 2019 4:31 am
Now that M.2 has been around for quite a few years and there are quite a few M.2 cards that have USB 3.0, PCIe 4x, and SATA cards, not to mention all of those SSDs,
Unfortunately M.2 is a freaking mess.

I was looking for embedded PC boards with a slot on them I could put a SSD from a reputable mainstream vendor in. What I found is that all the M.2 SSDs from reputable mainstream vendors like Crucial, WD, Samsung and intel that were not discontinued were in the 2280 size. It seems Crucial in the past made M.2 2260 SSDs but they are discontinued. I found a number of embedded boards with M.2 slots but all of them were too small for a 2280 SSD.

And then there is SATA vs PCIe, afaict the SSDs only ever support one or the other while the slots may or may not support both. You can put a SATA m.2 SSD in a USB enclosure for upgrading/data transfer purposes but afaict you can't do this with a PCIe one.

I then end the board (no I won't mention the name here, I am not going to advertise products that could be seen as Pi competitors on this forum) which had a full size minipcie/msata slot in which I was able to put a Samsung SSD and a uselessly small M.2 slot.

incognitum
Posts: 100
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Re: M.2 on Raspberry Pi 4

Thu Jan 03, 2019 12:11 pm

plugwash wrote:
Thu Jan 03, 2019 5:23 am
You can put a SATA m.2 SSD in a USB enclosure for upgrading/data transfer purposes but afaict you can't do this with a PCIe one.
Does exists, just search Aliexpress for the JMS583 bridge chip they use.

They tend to be a bit expensive compared to just using a normal computer to transfer files though.
Adapter cards to put M.2 PCIe cards in a normal PCIe slot only cost $ 2.

chwe
Posts: 88
Joined: Tue Jul 31, 2018 1:35 pm

Re: M.2 on Raspberry Pi 4

Thu Jan 03, 2019 3:52 pm

the m.2 isn't that much a mess.. It's a perfect connector to see if people do their homework first before they start buying stuff.. ;)

for your size problem there are adapters made.. One of the competitors sells them (hint, they recently made a board which has the same formfactor except they use USB-C PD for powering the board). ;) so that you're free to place your m.2 ssd everywhere you want. Keep in mind, there's difference between AHCI and NVMe... you can buy both with an m.2 connector but not all SBCs can talk to NVMe SSDs.

for mPCIe slots there are a bunch of adapter cards for classical SATA connectors (also here, do your research first before you buy a random card) depending on your budget and your needs. Most SBC makers take care that you get the right adapter card for your board depending on your needs.

protip: think about your needs, look which SBC fulfill those, check if it really fulfills your needs and then buy it. It saves you some bucks. :)

jamesh
Raspberry Pi Engineer & Forum Moderator
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Re: M.2 on Raspberry Pi 4

Thu Jan 03, 2019 5:33 pm

chwe wrote:
Thu Jan 03, 2019 3:52 pm
the m.2 isn't that much a mess.. It's a perfect connector to see if people do their homework first before they start buying stuff.. ;)

for your size problem there are adapters made.. One of the competitors sells them (hint, they recently made a board which has the same formfactor except they use USB-C PD for powering the board). ;) so that you're free to place your m.2 ssd everywhere you want. Keep in mind, there's difference between AHCI and NVMe... you can buy both with an m.2 connector but not all SBCs can talk to NVMe SSDs.

for mPCIe slots there are a bunch of adapter cards for classical SATA connectors (also here, do your research first before you buy a random card) depending on your budget and your needs. Most SBC makers take care that you get the right adapter card for your board depending on your needs.

protip: think about your needs, look which SBC fulfill those, check if it really fulfills your needs and then buy it. It saves you some bucks. :)
TBH, its sounds like a mess to me. Anything where you need to do a load of reseaarch first sounds like a mess.

BUT, this is off topic. Rpi's don't support M.2, and are unlikely to do so in the future, it's simply too expensive to implement with a relatively limited take up.
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bkydcmpr
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Re: M.2 on Raspberry Pi 4

Thu Jan 03, 2019 6:42 pm

plugwash wrote:
Thu Jan 03, 2019 5:23 am
spacepizza wrote:
Wed Jan 02, 2019 4:31 am
Now that M.2 has been around for quite a few years and there are quite a few M.2 cards that have USB 3.0, PCIe 4x, and SATA cards, not to mention all of those SSDs,
Unfortunately M.2 is a freaking mess.

I was looking for embedded PC boards with a slot on them I could put a SSD from a reputable mainstream vendor in. What I found is that all the M.2 SSDs from reputable mainstream vendors like Crucial, WD, Samsung and intel that were not discontinued were in the 2280 size. It seems Crucial in the past made M.2 2260 SSDs but they are discontinued. I found a number of embedded boards with M.2 slots but all of them were too small for a 2280 SSD.

And then there is SATA vs PCIe, afaict the SSDs only ever support one or the other while the slots may or may not support both. You can put a SATA m.2 SSD in a USB enclosure for upgrading/data transfer purposes but afaict you can't do this with a PCIe one.

I then end the board (no I won't mention the name here, I am not going to advertise products that could be seen as Pi competitors on this forum) which had a full size minipcie/msata slot in which I was able to put a Samsung SSD and a uselessly small M.2 slot.
You are looking at the wrong place. Industrial SSD vendors like Transcend are still making small M.2 drives (2240 M.2 SSDs are available on Amazon https://www.amazon.com/Transcend-256GB- ... B075P1JSGL).

In terms of SATA vs PCIe variant, even average consumers know the difference now.

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