Future PCIe Gen 5.0 SSDs could be much larger than previous models, and while that could be a good thing in terms of performance and cooling, it could also have a significant flaw: compatibility.
These new, larger M.2 SSDs may not fit current motherboards. How big could this problem be, and will the benefits outweigh the drawbacks?
Gigabyte said at Computex 2022 that it believes many of the future PCIe 5.0 SSDs will be significantly larger than the M.2 SSDs that are commonplace now. This is because, according to Gigabyte, many PCIe 5.0 SSDs will use the M.2 25110 SSD form factor. Such SSDs are 22mm wide and 110mm long, and that size could lead to incompatibility with current motherboards.
Most of the best SSDs currently available use the M.2 2280 form factor. As mentioned, there is a distinct size difference as the M.2 2280 SSDs with a form factor are 22mm wide and 80mm long. This means that most motherboards on the market today wouldn’t be able to support these larger M.2 25110 SSDs, which could make their adoption a lot trickier.
While this sounds pretty heavy at first glance, things aren’t as bad as they seem. Due to the lack of PCIe 5.0 SSDs on the market, many of the motherboards in use today don’t even have PCIe 5.0 slots. Of course, this will slowly start to change as more PCIe 5.0 SSDs come out. So far, only Intel Alder Lake offers PCIe 5 support, but soon enough this will change with the arrival of AMD Ryzen 7000. SSD manufacturers are catching up – the first PCIe 5 SSDs are almost out.
While we may see more of this current generation of PCIe M.2 SSDs hit the market soon, that doesn’t mean the technology will become widespread any time soon. As motherboard manufacturers adapt to the new standard form factor, the only M.2 25110 SSDs will likely be bought by enthusiasts who won’t try to mix them up with older motherboards.
M.2 SSD in a laptop.
The difference between 22mm and 25mm is small in size, but could potentially bring many benefits to these future SSDs. M.2 2280 drives are limited by their small form factor. While they fit just fine on all kinds of motherboards, they don’t have the room to support additional cooling options or add additional NAND.
This leads us to the improvements that larger M.2 25110 storage can bring. The extra space can then be used by manufacturers to accommodate larger heatsinks for better cooling and to accommodate more NAND chips, increasing drive performance.
As Overclock3d points out, while technology advances, many manufacturers may still choose to stick with the (currently standard) 2280 M.2 SSD form factor. It’s true that they’re likely to be useful for many years to come, if only because their smaller size makes them more suitable for laptops and other off-the-shelf devices. When it comes to DIY desktops and turnkey PCs, we may see the emergence of the M.2 25110 SSD soon enough.