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Raspberry Pi: Add an M.2 2280 NVMe drive to the Raspberry Pi 4 for under US$25

Raspberry Pi: Add an M.2 2280 NVMe drive to the Raspberry Pi 4 for under US$25. (Image source: Estefannie Explains It All)
Raspberry Pi: Add an M.2 2280 NVMe drive to the Raspberry Pi 4 for under US$25. (Image source: Estefannie Explains It All)
The Raspberry Pi 4 is a powerful SBC, but now you can add an NVMe drive to the Pi Foundation's latest device. Using the Realtek RTL9210 controller, an M.2 NVMe drive can be connected to a Raspberry Pi 4 via one of its USB 3.1 Type-A ports. Better yet, it costs less than US$25 to do.
Alex Alderson,

The Raspberry Pi Model 4 is rather powerful by single-board computer (SBC) standards, with the Pi Foundation including up to 4 GB of RAM and a quad-core ARM Cortex-A72 processor among other hardware. To that end, the latest Raspberry Pi needs a heatsink to make the most of its potential, as CNX Software demonstrated last year. The humble Raspberry Pi can be utilised as networked-attached storage (NAS) with the right tools too, or even as a smart doorbell.

However, the Raspberry Pi has rather slow storage by modern standards. Seeedstudio has demonstrated a workaround for this, though. Simply, the website used a USB 3.1 Gen.2 to PCIe 3.0 ×2 bridge to connect an M.2 NVMe drive to a Raspberry Pi 4. As the screenshots below demonstrate, the Raspberry Pi 4 can achieve respectable transfer speeds when using this method.

Sadly, the Raspberry Pi 4 does not currently support USB mass storage boot, so you cannot boot an OS from an NVMe drive currently. While its predecessors do support USB mass storage boot, none have USB 3.1 Type-A ports.

Seeedstudio demonstrated the solution using a JMicron JMS583 and Realtek RTL9210, for reference. The latter is one of Realtek's new controllers, which the company announced last year. It is worth nothing that the RTL9210 runs cooler and draws less power than the JMS583 does. It also supports sleep functions.

At the time of writing, it seems that the RTL9210 has made it into a few USB Type-A to M.2 NVMe SSD adapters. The RIITOP NVMETA-BD9210 is one such unit, for example, which currently retails for US$23.95 on Newegg. So, if you have an NVMe drive laying about and you are wondering what to do with it, then you can include it in a Raspberry Pi project for under US$25.

The RIITOP NVMETA-BD9210, based on the Realtek RTL9210. (Image source: Newegg)
The RIITOP NVMETA-BD9210, based on the Realtek RTL9210. (Image source: Newegg)
CrystalDiskMark results compariing the JMS583 (top) agains the RTL9210 (bottom). (Image source: Seeedstudio)
CrystalDiskMark results compariing the JMS583 (top) agains the RTL9210 (bottom). (Image source: Seeedstudio)
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> Notebook / Laptop Reviews and News > News > News Archive > Newsarchive 2020 04 > Raspberry Pi: Add an M.2 2280 NVMe drive to the Raspberry Pi 4 for under US$25
Alex Alderson, 2020-04- 2 (Update: 2020-04- 2)
Alex Alderson
Alex Alderson - News Editor - @aldersonaj
Prior to writing and translating for Notebookcheck, I worked for various companies including Apple and Neowin. I have a BA in International History and Politics from the University of Leeds, which I have since converted to a Law Degree. Happy to chat on Twitter or Notebookchat.