$14 Pimoroni NVMe Base adds an M.2 PCIe socket underneath the Raspberry Pi 5 SBC

Pimonori has started to take pre-orders for the NVMe BASE add-on board that adds an M.2 PCIe socket underneath the Raspberry Pi 5 SBC with support for M.2 NVMe SSDs and M.2 AI accelerators with 2230, 2242, 2260, or 2280 sizes.

It’s not the first M.2 expansion board for the Raspberry Pi as the PineBerry Pi HatDrive TM1 and BM1 add-on boards launched last month can also do that either on top of on the bottom of the Raspberry Pi, but the NVMe BASE is quite cheaper at just 13.50 GBP inc. VAT or $14.29 ex. VAT at the time of writing.

Pimoroni NVMe BASE

NVMe Base key features and specifications:

  • NVMe Base PCB
    • M.2 M-key slot
    • Holes for 2230, 2242, 2260, and 2280 sized M.2 modules
    • Raspberry Pi FFC PCIe connector
  • ‘PCIe Pipe’ Flat Flex Cable
  • M2 bolt and 2x nuts for SSD mounting
  • 4x 7mm M2.5 standoffs for base mounting
  • 8x short M2.5 bolts for base mounting
  • 4x long M2.5 bolts for ‘pass-thru’ mounting with a HAT
  • 4x Rubber feet

Raspberry Pi 5 bottom PCIe add-on board

Since the NVMe Base goes underneath the Raspberry Pi 5 we’d almost not see it once installed with only the golden flat cable and black PCB visible. One concern is that the NVMe SSD faces the bottom side of the Raspberry Pi 5 and there’s no cooling in such a tight space. Only time (and testing) will tell if that matters.

M.2 2280 NVMe SSD on Raspberry Pi 5

The company says the add-on board follows the just-released Raspberry Pi FFC connector specifications and guidelines so  I would not expect any issue with most SSDs. But if you want something that works with close to 100% certainty, you can also order a $57.15 kit with the NVMe Base and a 500GB Kioxia Exceria SSD that has been tested successfully with PCIe Gen3 x1 on the Raspberry Pi 5.

Other SSDs tested by Pimoroni include Western Digital Black SN750 SE Series, Samsung 980, Crucial P3 Plus M.2 Series, Netac M.2 NVMe SSD, Inland PCIe NVMe SSD, Samsung 980 Pro, Lexar NM710, Sabrent Rocket 4.0, Crucial P2 M.2 Series, and Lexar NM620, but the company does not recommend the WD Green SSDs as “drives such as the SN350 are temperamental with the CM4 and RPi 5”.

Shipping of the NVMe Base is expected to start in the first week of January 2024, although we’re told some units may also ship right before Christmas 2023.

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10 Comments
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tkaiser
tkaiser
5 months ago

> there’s no cooling in such a tight space. Only time (and testing) will tell if that matters.

Not just time and testing, also knowledge how to read out SSD temperatures (smartctl -x, smartctl -l scttemp)

Asides that the results are pretty predictable with this little SSD oven 🙂

maurer
maurer
5 months ago

can’t one reverse the nvme board with SSD facing downwards?

TLS
TLS
5 months ago

Unlikely with that short flex cable.

Luc
Luc
5 months ago

because it will also switch the pin ordering, you’ll have to create and manufacture your own PCIe cable. Which already looks like a board specific design.

But I agree with @Homer10: an entry level SSD should be OK.

Homer10
Homer10
5 months ago

Well, first even the Pi-5 can’t really run some of these M2s up to their fastest speeds. You would do best by getting a moderate speed M2. These won’t need a heat sink. But look at the heat sink they used on the Pi-5. Yeah, they needed to put a heat sink on the Pi because it is now the bottleneck. The Pi can now fly as fast as it can. So there’s where the heat is being generated.

tkaiser
tkaiser
5 months ago

> do best by getting a moderate speed M2. These won’t need a heat sink.

It’s not about a heatsink but the Pimoroni design preventing any heat dissipation. And it’s also not about ‘speed’ but age (more recent SSDs being more efficient).

I’ve some cheap consumer crap (KXG50ZNV256G at least 5 years old) in my Rock 5B’s M.2 slot. Idle consumption with this thing attached increased by 3.5W, the SSD in a tiny enclosure reports 61°C (at an ambient temperature below 20°C) while doing nothing (not even mounted).

tkaiser
tkaiser
5 months ago

After ripping board and SBC out of the tiny enclosure, after 15 minutes the SSD is back at 45°C idle temperature (still 25°C over ambient!) but more importantly the SoC idle temperature is at 38°C. Prior to that in the enclosure the SoC idled at ~51°C since that SSD is a proper radiator.

And the same thing will happen on the RPi 5 with this SSD oven as well.

David Willmore
David Willmore
5 months ago

It’s nice to see such an inexpensive PCI-E mount for an M.2 device. So congratulations to Pimoroni for that!

That the Pi5 even needs such an adapter, though, is a big issue.

David Willmore
David Willmore
5 months ago

They say lots of stuff. 😉 I’ve learned to take anything they say about power with a vary large grain of salt. About cow lick sized: [http://1.bp.blogspot.com/_WY4VIjyXwDk/S-I-1WcbMDI/AAAAAAAACQE/NMRGDPk0Ng8/s1600/Ferde-licking-salt-block.jpg]

Khadas VIM4 SBC