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