Raspberry Pi accessory maker 52Pi has launched an M.2 HAT to add high-speed storage to a Raspberry Pi 5, but this one comes with an unusual bonus: a built-in high-quality S/PDIF audio output, based on the HiFiBerry Digi+.
"The 52Pi NVdigi is a versatile expansion board designed for the Raspberry Pi 5, combining the capabilities of the HiFiBerry Digi+ for high-quality S/PDIF audio output and an M.2 PCIe x1 slot to accommodate NVMe [Non-Volatile Memory Express] 2242/2230 SSDs," 52Pi writes of its creation, brought to our attention by Linux Gizmos. "This multifunctional board enhances both the audio and storage capabilities of your Raspberry Pi 5."
52Pi is far from the first to launch a board taking advantage of the Raspberry Pi 5's PCI Express connectivity to offer support for high-speed high-capacity storage: even as Raspberry Pi pushes towards launching its in-house M.2 HAT+ design, companies from Pimoroni to Waveshare have been launching their own designs. 52Pi's NVdigi, though, is the first to combine that with an audio output — ideal, the company hopes, for anyone looking to integrate high-quality playback from locally-stored digital audio files into their hi-fi setup.
The Hardware Attached on Top (HAT) design effectively combines the existing HiFiBerry Digi+ design with an M.2 M-key slot suitable for 2230 and 2242 footprint NVMe solid-state storage devices running at up to PCI Express 3.0, the company says. There's an infrared receiver for remote control, both an RCA connector and a TOSLINK optical port for the digital S/PDIF audio signal — good to 24-bit 192KHz — and a pass-through connector to retain access to the Raspberry Pi 5's general-purpose input/output (GPIO) header.
52Pi has opened pre-orders for the NVdigi HAT on its official store at $39.99, ahead of shipping the devices in a month, making it one of the more expensive ways to add NVMe storage to a Raspberry Pi 5 — but a potentially neater solution for those who also want digital audio connectivity at the same time.