One thing that one wonders is why expansion cards don’t seem to use the M.2 format when they don’t really need the size of an entire PCIe card, since they waste everything. space of the latter. This is why we believe that in the not too distant future we will start to see expansion cards in M.2 form which are not dedicated to SSDs.
Expansion possibilities for M.2 cards
M.2 cards are nothing more than a type of expansion card with a number of specific sizes, all 22mm wide and varying in length. So far they have been used for creating SSD drives but it’s still a type of PCB, so we can fit any kind of hardware into it, which gives M.2 cards a huge amount of possibilities that they have not yet been exploited. .
The way M.2 cards communicate is through a PCI Express interface or a SATA interface, the second will be phased out soon but the first is enough to create small expansion hardware of all kinds. But not in the first case, for example, we have sound cards that use PCI Express interfaces from 1 to 4 lanes only or for example video sensors, which are hardware that does not need a communication interface larger than that, which is now available for PCIe SSD drives.
This is why a future in which for example our next professional sound card is not plugged in a conventional PCI slot but in M.2 slots should not seem crazy, especially considering that it more and more people are using laptops. or prefer AiO systems to work, in which it is impossible to install a traditional PCI Express card, but have multiple M.2 slots.
Do we have an example of this?
Well yes, a few months ago AsRock introduced an M.2 card that was not for storage, but was a small video card that adds a VGA interface to connect displays that still support this format, it is not something extremely complex but it is a clear example that M.2 cards can not only serve as mass storage but also as an expansion port.
Now the problem comes from the graphics cards, they are too complex and need too large communication interfaces to fit on an M.2 card and even if we managed to make a GPU of this size, we would find a problem. isn’t that would have enough power to be viable, unless we were talking about a very low performance GPU and at this point these are already included in the processor itself so that would be unnecessary redundancy .
Recently it became known that they had successfully connected an NVIDIA RTX 3090 card through the M.2 card slot, but that does not mean an RTX 3090 on an M.2 card. Mainly because the RTX 3090 chips won’t fit on an M.2 card of any size.
This opens up new possibilities for using an M.2 card with an accelerator that provides the interface to effectively communicate with an external GPU in a laptop or AiO. But above all, it will be other types of hardware, especially those that today use PCI Express communication interfaces between 1 and 4 lanes, such as sound cards, capture cards and various types of hardware. extension for our PCs.