WebHDX, the creator of PicoBoot, is currently working on a new device that will allow you to connect a M.2 form-factor SATA SSD (not to be confused with an NVMe) to a Nintendo Gamecube’s Serial Port 1 (SP1). This device will essentially function the same as a SD2SP2 or SD Gecko device in that it will allow you to load games directly off of it using Swiss. However, the M2. Loader has one key benefit, high data throughput.
I know there aren't many M.2 Loader updates posted but I can assure you we're working on it. Today, I received new PCB revision which fixes thermal issues by replacing inefficient linear regulator with a switching one. pic.twitter.com/M1ISB4Dpfc
— webhdx (@webhdx) August 26, 2021
The M.2 Loader does not simply interface the SSD to the Gamecube in the same manner that the SD2SP2 does, rather, it utilizes a complex programmable logic device (CPLD) to enhances the data transfer speed between the SSD and the Gamecube.
So what are the benefits of using the M.2 Loader over a significantly cheaper device like the SD2SP2 or SD Gecko? Well, with the higher data throughput of the M.2 Loader comes better game compatibility. Loading games from a SD2SP2 adaptor will sometimes exhibit playback issues like audio glitching or choppy FMV playback. Or in the worst case, total incompatibility.
The M.2 Loaders on the other hand fixes many of these issue. However, WebHDX wants to make clear that it wont have perfect compatibility with all games. While it certain will be better than the SD2SP2 and SD Gecko, it most likely wont have as good game compatibility as the GC Loader. However, the M.2 Loader’s main benefit over the GC Loader is that it does not require the removal of the optical drive.
Also, as I mentioned earlier, WebHDX is still working on completing the M.2 Loader. The device was nearly completed but unfortunately the CPLD chip that WebHDX was using for this device has become very expensive due to the chip shortage so he is currently working on redesigning the M.2 Loader so that it will utilize a much cheaper and more readily available microcontroller, the RP2040, which is the same processor found on the Raspberry Pi Pico.
WebHDX’s goal is to have a finished product that is affordable, and using the RP2040 will help him achieve that goal.
To stay up to date on the M.2 Loaders progress, you should definitely follow WebHDX on twitter. Also, be sure to subscribe to my YouTube channel as I will definitely be releasing a follow up video once the M.2 Loader’s design is finalized and ready for release!
In the meantime check out my video above which gives an up close look at the M2 Loader’s design as it exists today.