Why is the M.2 slot inactive on B560 motherboards paired with a 10th Gen Intel Core processor?

New motherboards based on Z590 / B560 chipsets with 11th Gen Intel Core processors have recently gone on sale. Unlike the previous series, the 11th generation processors are PCIe 4.0 compliant and can offer as many as 4 storage slots, including M.2 slots.

If the presence of the PCIe 4.0 interface is critical, then in this case the transition to the 11th generation of processors looks reasonable. Otherwise, you can limit yourself to the previous generation of “stones”.

Intel Core 11th Gen processors have other changes in architecture and support, but for now we will look at one feature of the 400- and 500-series boards, which share a single LGA1200 socket, and are also backward compatible across Intel 10- and 11-generation processors. But one caveat was noticed.

It was recently noticed that some B560 motherboards do not activate one of the M.2 slots. As it turned out, both M.2 slots can only be activated if mate. the board is equipped with an 11th generation processor. Thus, if you have a B560 board with a 10th Gen Intel Core processor, then only one of the two M.2 slots will be active.

This begs the question: Why don’t 10 Gen processors allow both M.2 slots?
We begin to understand how the lines are distributed.

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First of all, you should pay attention to the fact that in motherboards Z590 / B560, an 11th generation Intel Core processor is badly needed to activate the PCIe 4.0×4 interface in the main module m.2

If a legacy processor is installed, the PCIe 4 lines will be disabled. Because of this, the m.2 slot – the one connected to the processor – is not active.

But why then do many motherboards, for example, the MSI B560, have two active slots when the Intel Core 10th Gen “stone” is installed?

Both M.2 slots are active on MSI B560I GAMING EDGE WIFI / B560M MORTAR / BAZOOKA / PRO-VDH

There is no secret. Judging by the information received, MSI has equipped a number of boards with a switch that allows you to make the transition from chip to chipset. In other words, the switch allows you to activate the PCIe 3.0 x4 lanes on the chipset. Perhaps other brands have also done so, but there are no general comparison tables.

MSI B560 motherboards have a different number of m.2 ports: from one to three, depending on the board. Boards with more than two m.2 slots will have at least two active slots if the board has a Gen 10 processor built into it.

Below you can see the table, which contains a list of motherboards and the number of available m.2 slots.

Max. Transfer mode for M.2 slots when working with 10th Gen Intel Core processors

M.2 main slot supports 4 PCIe 4.0 lane when working with 11th Gen Intel Core

For a more detailed study of the issue, it is worth waiting for the official answers of other manufacturers.