M.2 SSD drives

I decided to build a Linux system and found a local place that had a barebones system at a reasonable price. I noticed the motherboard has an M.2 connector on it, which should be great for fast booting from an SSD drive. A different store was open and had a 256GB drive in stock. I’m going to call this a “stick” because of the form factor.

The motherboard is not detecting it and the troubleshooting I’ve found online suggests three causes: bad SSD stick, you have to find whatever the BIOS setting for the M.2 connector is called and turn that on, or the OS will still make use of the drive even if it doesn’t show up in BIOS.

I’m not real confident on the last one since UbuntuStudio wouldn’t install until I put in a 2.5" SSD hard drive. I can’t find anything in the BIOS choices that matches the troubleshooting steps. Just the section that says “here’s what’s connected to the SATA ports”. The M.2 connector is listed but with nothing plugged into it. I’ve already checked that the stick can’t be installed upside down.

Asus Prime A320M-K motherboard with newest BIOS and an AMD A10-9700 CPU
Patriot Scorch 256GB SSD stick # PS256GPM280SSDR

Ruling out a bad SSD stick, can anyone help point me to what terminology Asus uses in their BIOS for “enable the M.2” port since any kind of auto-detect setting may or may not be working? They do not offer a manual that explains what each BIOS setting does and the on-screen descriptions are either insufficient to explain them or are missing on some of them. There’s also no compatibility chart for M.2 SSD devices like there is for DRAM. In fact, the only thing in the manual beyond “it’s got an M.2 port” is it will operate in SATA mode because of the A-series processor and won’t share an IRQ. (Ryzen CPUs are labeled as “PCIe 3.0 x4 and SATA modes”.)

Or, do I have to find a different M.2 SSD stick that specifically says it runs in SATA mode?

I have also heard in various places that it doesn’t show up as a “drive” in the BIOS but that the OS (at least Windows) will detect it as a potential target. Something to do with it not being a part of the SATA bus.

There MIGHT be a separate section of the BIOS that deals with M.2/NVMe stuff, but that appears to differ by board (and by whether your board is set up in UEFI mode or AHCI)

Edit: Check under “Advanced”, then “Onboard Devices Configuration”, see if options for the M.2 ports are there

Not counting Apple proprietary, there are two different M.2 connectors - M and B, I think but I may not remember correctly. Anyway, if the stick is NVMe, it shouldn’t fit in the wrong connector. I believe the SATA (non NVMe) sticks (yes, I call them sticks, too) use the M version. From what I’ve seen, the NVMe sticks sit right on the PCIe bus and talk to the proc directly, while SATA SSDs talk through the SATA controller.

Just found this which indicates I was close, but a little off. B and M are for x2 and x4 PCIe, where supported, but it doesn’t indicate signalling (SATA or straight PCIe)

Additional info found on Wiki and Dell.

Storage interfaces - Three options are available for the logical device interfaces and command sets used for interfacing with M.2 storage devices, which may be used depending on the type of M.2 storage device and available operating system support:

  • Legacy SATA
  • PCI Express using AHCI
  • PCI Express using NVMe

I’m guessing the third would be the one that doesn’t show up in BIOS. That would just be so strange though.

I actually ran into a completely different issue with the NVMe drive I just put in the new PC yesterday. BIOS and Windows 10’s installer picked it up fine, but apparently Windows is picky about what drive it’ll install on if it detects multiple. I had to go back out to the BIOS and turn off the SATA ports (because fuck if I was hauling that thing back up onto a chair or something to disconnect the SATA drive, that case is huge and heavy) so that it would only see the NVMe drive and install to it.

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The “Onboard Devices Configuration” section was only for front audio connectors, what to have the front LED do and a couple of other options.

Without something that explains what every option in the BIOS means, it looks like the “SATA Configuration” area that I found before is the only thing that shows it, and it’s back to if the motherboard detects something plugged into the M.2 slot, it will show it.

I’m done fussing with this problem for now and I’m going to return the M.2 stick. I’ve got Ubuntu Studio installed on a standard SSD drive and the system is very quick and responsive already. Audacity’s doing great for audio recording and editing.

I may also use it as a simple file server because I’ve got a couple of hard drives that are larger than Windows 7 64bit can cope with (see the 3TB drives and up thread). The 3TB drive is installed and when I can find where I put it, the external drive was 5TB. This won’t be the full file server I was envisioning that would have RAID, but it gives me practice with how Linux does things. I’m still getting used to the idea of after you partition a hard drive, you have to give yourself permission to use it before you can save any data to it.

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Okay, wow. I read back through the “3TB drives and up” thread and found out that not only do I have a 5TB drive somewhere, I have a 6TB drive. Suddenly I feel the need to do some summer cleaning in order locate these.

How long do you think it would take me to fill a 14TB file server? It could be more if I leave those as external drives instead of taking them out of their cases to put in this computer, but the only other spare internal drives I have are 2TB so having a total of 18TB (minus filesystem overhead) that might not help as much as you’d think.

I had concerns about whether the 430W power supply that came with the system could handle three hard drives, but they will draw less than 2 amps total on each of the 5v and 12v lines and the onboard graphics and sound is more than enough for what I need here, so I’m set.

Before anyone brings it up, this is still a “playing around” system. I’ll build a dedicated file server with backup capabilities later. If a drive on this one fails, it won’t be the end of the world and I can recover a lot of the data from my manually-performed backups.

You could use a dedicated system like FreeNAS to manage the storage.

I have about 12 TB on my Synology, but it’s in 2 raid pairs for reasons, so usable space is about half that.