Recently announcing the Z690 motherboards, MSI has showcased a new M. 2 PCIe Gen 5 adapter card during a recent release. The new card will run on the PCIe Gen 5 x8 interface and will provide full compatibility with future 5th generation NVMe SSDs when it reaches consumers.

The company hasn’t said whether the card will come with any motherboards, but it will likely ship with several flagship motherboards and will also be sold separately. It may come in handy when PCIe card compatible drivers are announced. The Alder Lake platform does not have Gen 5 support in native M. 2 slots, so the new solution will be one of the few ways to achieve Gen 5 NVMe compatibility on the Alder Lake platform.

The new PCIe card is very similar to MSI’s previous Gen 4 M.2 cards, with a black casing, a small heatsink and a fan to actively cool the single M.2 slot on the card. MSI states that PCIe Gen 5 M. 2 SSDs will get hot, so active cooling is required to cool future SSDs.

Although the new product runs on the Gen 5 x8 interface, it is used in the x16 physical connection. This board is designed to run in the second Gen 5 slot of the Z690 motherboards, which are wired for x8 but can physically accommodate x16 cards. The only downside is that 8 strips are cut to the main video card. This means that the GPU must be running in x8 mode to run the M. 2 cards at the same time.

MSI has promised bandwidth of up to 128GB/s, but this is the PCIe connector’s maximum output. Companies like Phison say they’re making controllers with transfer speeds of up to 14GB/s, which is double the Gen4’s capacity.

We expect PCIe 5.0 SSDs to be available in 2022. In fact, Samsung has announced that its own enterprise PCIe 5.0 SSDs will arrive in Q2 of 2022. PCIe Gen 5 SSDs that will reach the consumer could hit the market in late 2022 or early 2023.

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Michael Lewis


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