The M.2 form-factor was primarily designed for solid-state drives, but since it uses an industry-standard PCIe interface, an M.2 card can be used for other applications. Last year, ASRock introduced an M.2 graphics adapter, and this week Innodisk launched an M.2-2280 10GbE network card.
The Innodisk EGPL-T101 M.2-2280 10GbE adapter features a PCIe 3.0 x2 interface and is based on a Marvell AQtion controller supporting speeds up to 10 Gb/s over Cat6/Cat6A copper cables. In addition, the module consumes no more than 2.5W, so it can fit into tightly-packed environments that do not have proper ventilation without the risk of overheating.
Innodisk primarily positions its EGPL-T101 module as a solution for systems used for machine vision, high-resolution imaging, and gaming. However, it can also be used for various home theatre PCs (HTPCs) and high-performance storage systems to take advantage of fast network transfers.
As for compatibility, like other 10GbE adapters powered by an AQtion controller, the EGPL-T101 comes with drivers that work with Microsoft Windows 7 and later as well as Linux Kernel 3.10 and later.
Innodisk says that the EGPL-T101 module will be in mass production this month, so expect it to hit the market early next year. Unfortunately, we have no reference point for M.2-2280 10GbE network adapter pricing. But since Marvell's Aquantia AQtion-based PCIe 3.0 cards are pretty widespread and start at around $100 (opens in new tab) at Amazon, we expect Innodisk to charge a premium for the M.2 form-factor.
10 Gbps Ethernet seems make sense when user have fast enough uplink to benefit from such speed. Otherwise it will be waiting game for a week or two while another 8K resolution movie will download in the middle of woods.