Following on from a leaked presentation deck on upcoming Intel 13th Gen Core processors, it’s now clear there will be no native support for PCIe 5.0 x4 M.2 drives on Raptor Lake chips and associated Z790 chipset.
Uncovered by IgorsLAB, the deck goes on to show that 13th Gen Core desktop processors will have the same I/O as present 12th Gen Core. That means the CPU carries 16 PCIe 5.0 lanes for graphics and four PCIe 4.0 lanes ostensibly for storage. The lack of specific call-out for PCIe 5.0 x4 M.2 is, well, telling.
Enterprising motherboard makers can, like Asus did with 12th Gen Core, add a switch which pulls storage-optimised PCIe 5.0 lanes from the CPU for single-slot M.2 usage, but doing so is not ideal as it drops the primary graphics card’s slot width to x8 and disables what could be a second GPU slot.
Digging down on to chipsets, Z790 isn’t much different to Z690. Intel is reducing eight PCIe 3.0 but more than compensating by adding eight PCIe 4.0 lanes, primarily to service high-speed expandability for peripherals hanging off the PCH. There’s a further USB 3.2 2×2 20Gbps port, as well, but that’s your lot.
If specific PCIe 5.0 x4 M.2 support had been present through more CPU lanes, we’d have seen it in the above slide. Rival AMD, on the other hand, is marching forward with said compatibility on AM5 platforms being released at the end of this month.
There are wider ramifications afoot. If Intel is not adding genuine PCIe 5.0 M.2 support, uptake of the faster standard will be much slower than anticipated, and it may explain why, in recent times, industry heavyweights Samsung and WD have refreshed their respective premium PCIe 4.0 M.2 line-ups rather than go tooting on the consumer SSD PCIe 5.0 horn.
Look, ma, no PCIe 5.0 M.2… unless you grab it from the graphics.