Waveshare has announced the launch of a low-cost M.2 HAT+ board for the Raspberry Pi 5's PCI Express (PCIe) lane, providing an alternative to the yet-to-release official version from Raspberry Pi — and coming in at under $10.
According to Waveshare's documentation, brought to our attention by Linux Gizmos, the Waveshare PCIe to M.2 HAT+ adapter provides support for 2230 and 2242 format M.2 Non-Volatile Memory Express (NVMe) drives, in both PCI Express Gen. 2 and higher-performance Gen. 3 modes, on the Raspberry Pi 5 — complete with support for booting from the on-board NVMe drive.
The Raspberry Pi 5 is the first in the mainstream Raspberry Pi family to have a user-accessible PCI Express lane, located at the far end of the board. While the company has released documentation on how to make use of the flat flexible circuit (FFC) connector, though, its in-house M.2 HAT+ — designed to host high-performance solid-state storage on the top of the Raspberry Pi 5 — has yet to release, leaving the market open to competitors.
Pineberry Pi was the first out of the gate with a pair of designs, one of which sits atop the Raspberry Pi 5 like the official M.2 HAT+ and one of which sits underneath in a format some have come to call "Hardware Attached on the Bottom," or "HAB." Sheffield-based Pimoroni followed with its NVMe Base, another "HAB" design — and one which is claimed to reach PCI Express Gen. 3 speeds, compared to the planned default-but-overridable Gen. 2 limit of the official M.2 HAT+.
Waveshare's variant uses a design which includes a cutout in the centre, below the M.2 drive, to provide ventilation for the Raspberry Pi 5 Active Cooler heatsink and fan assembly. A pass-through header is used with bundled stacking pins to retain access to the Raspberry Pi 5's general-purpose input/output (GPIO) header even when installed, and a further cutout provides access to the two dual-purpose Camera Serial Interface/Display Serial Interface (CSI/DSI) ports.
The Waveshare PCIe to M.2 HAT+ is now available on the company store for just $8.99 before volume discounts, including stacking header, FFC cable, stand-offs, and mounting screws.