52Pi's Product W01 U2500 Adds High-Speed NVMe and Multi-Gig Ethernet to the Raspberry Pi 5

With an NVMe drive connected over PCI Express and a 2.5-gigabit Ethernet port connected over USB, this is an add-on for the speed freaks.

Gareth Halfacree
17 days ago β€’ HW101

Single-board computer accessory specialist 52Pi has launched a new add-on for the Raspberry Pi 5, making use of the board's PCI Express connectivity to offer both high-speed Non-Volatile Memory Express (NVMe) storage and multi-gig Ethernet: the Product W01 U2500.

"Introducing Product W01, a versatile HAT [Hardware Attached on Top board] for Raspberry Pi 5 that combines NVMe SSD expansion and USB 2.5G network capabilities into a single compact solution," the company writes of its design. "Powered by the reliable Realtek RTL8156BG chipset, this HAT offers seamless integration with your Raspberry Pi 5, delivering high-speed data transfer and networking performance."

Brought to our attention by Linux Gizmos, the new board β€” compatible only with the Raspberry Pi 5, which added an externally-accessible PCI Express lane missing from earlier versions of the popular single-board computer β€” supports M.2 M-key 2230 and 2242 NVMe solid-state storage drives, like many of its rivals, but also adds a 2.5-gigabit Ethernet port for high-speed networking on top.

This isn't the first time 52Pi has worked to pack two different capabilities into a single Raspberry Pi 5 accessory. Back in February the company unveiled the NVdigi, a HAT that combines the audio features of the earlier HiFiBerry Digi+ board with an M.2 slot for high-speed storage courtesy of a 2230- or 2242-footprint NVMe drive.

On the Product W01 U2500, only the NVMe drive is actually connected over the Raspberry Pi 5's PCI Express lane β€” with 52Pi saying it can be run at PCIe Gen. 2 speed to remain within Raspberry Pi's official specs or at the faster PCIe Gen. 3 rate for improved throughput.

The Ethernet port connects over USB 3.0, using a U-shaped connector to link to one of the Raspberry Pi 5's existing USB 3.0 ports. While this makes for a somewhat more awkward layout, it does mean that NVMe drive and Ethernet port aren't contending for a single PCIe lane's bandwidth.

The 52Pi Product W01 U2500 is now available to order on the official web store, priced at $29.99; additional information is available on the 52Pi wiki.

Gareth Halfacree
Freelance journalist, technical author, hacker, tinkerer, erstwhile sysadmin. For hire: freelance@halfacree.co.uk.
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