Does the Dell Latitude M.2 WWAN socket have the SATA interface on it?

Recently while trying to answer this myself, I found a lot of discussion on this subject, but no definitive answer.

M.2 B Key sockets have a variety of possible modes as defined by the NGFF specification:

The second to last mode “RFU” (Reserved for future use) is defined by Dell as:

I am unsure what HCA stands for, but have seen it printed on the silkscreen of some of my earlier latitude models. Clearly it is some kind of proprietary device that requires one PCIe lane. It may stand for Host Channel Adapter – Implying some kind of non-NVMe PCIe SSD (i.e. has an Option ROM).

None of this tell us anything about what Dell have actually implemented on thier WWAN slots, neither does their tech support, or any of their documentation. I found myself eyeballing the traces extending from the socket, but even this was inconclusive as a lot of them are fed up from vias under the socket.

It’s given that it’ll have SSIC/USB 2.0 because almost all WWAN cards use those interfaces, but what of the others?

Fortunately there’s no need for any further conjecture because the schematics for these models are floating around the internet, so let’s answer that question definitively.

The above diagram covers models 7280, 7380, 7480, 7490 and likely others too. So there we have it. The interfaces on the WWAN socket are:

  • USB 2.0
  • SSIC (Chip-to-Chip USB 3.0)
  • PCIe (Permanently disabled in BIOS)



Just because we know what interfaces are there, we still don’t know what kind of peripherals will actually work. For example – if a socket can accept WWAN-PCIe – SSD-PCIe should also be no problem as the required connections are all there, however those devices will have their configuration pins tied differently, allowing the BIOS to determine exactly what’s attached.

This allows manufacturers (for example) to allow PCIe WWAN cards, but disallow PCIe SSDs. On top of that, just because an interface is there, it doesn’t mean that it’s actually enabled.

This turns out this is the case for my Dell Latitude. While the PCIe is there, it cannot be used because the port on the root complex is disabled in the BIOS, and there’s no way to enable it (without hacking the BIOS). I was able to confirm this by testing out a variety of B-Key PCIe devices, none of which were detected (even when strapped as WWAN-PCIe).

A dick move by dell, but given how rare WWAN cards requiring PCIe are, they had no reason to enable it, and my experience from owning previous models is that they’re pretty good at tying up loose ends like this.

Short of hacking the BIOS, or building a new type of USB 3.0 card from scratch, only WWAN cards will work in the WWAN slot.

Yours may differ

Older Dell models did have SATA+PCIe in the WWAN socket, but this is not the case for more recent units. The story will inevitably be different for other manufacturers.

Posted in PC & Software

25 thoughts on “Does the Dell Latitude M.2 WWAN socket have the SATA interface on it?

        1. In that particular example the silkscreen is clearly marked “SSD” as well as “WWAN” – meaning Dell have left the PCIe port enabled – so I’m not surprised it’s working. In the case of 7480 + 7490 there is no such mention. 73xx must have been the last model to allow this.

          1. I believe the reason (possibly) is because SSDs in that form factor have two PCIe lanes. While Dell could have enabled the first lane to allow it to work, the second land on the SSD falls on the same pins as the SSIC interface, which from my experimentation causes it to go ape shit, so you’d have to try insulate or remove the pins on the second lane.

            Perhaps this could have been resolved using the config pins but that would potentially have added cost, for an obscure and esoteric use case.

          2. I am sure that some models still support this – however it’s not the case for the models I mention on this post.

  1. Why the down-vote people! This is a good question I support it. I have a dell P11F witch does not accept a mSATA ssd and an lenovo e520 witch does. Now the reason to this is that some manufactures have a slot that can be mSATA and mini PCIe based on bios configuration. botenvouwer Dec 13 ’14 at 15:37

  2. Hello

    Interesting post, especially this:

    Older Dell models did have SATA+PCIe in the WWAN socket, but this is not the case for more recent units. The story will inevitably be different for other manufacturers.

    Doyou happento knowif the Latitude E5470 falls into this “older” category?


  3. Just for info: I have successfully upgraded several 5480 with an additional SSD in WWAN port. so if it works with 5480, I’d assume it should for it’s predecessor 5470.

  4. I was able to add a 2 lane pcie3x2 western digital m plus b key into the b key socket wwan of my dell latitude 5500. while the nvme card is recognized by both windows and linux os in both operating system i get and usb error. windows device managers pops up an error every few seconds something like unable to enable usb port. if i boot in linux the error is also present and say unable to reset usb hub 2 port 5 maybe the cable is bad?…Anyway ignoring those errors the storage device is completely usable. I am assuming the error happens because one pci lane lands on usb pins on the socket. Can anybody confirm that? and if that is the case what pins on the hard drive should i tape to make like the second pci lane wont make contact with the socket basically eliminating one pci express lane?

    1. You are correct. You’ll have to cover pins 21,23 27,29 as are stated on the schematic snippet I posted. The question is what with. Kapton tape might be a good starting point. Whatever it is would have to be insulating, very thin, and very strong otherwise there’s a risk of it not working, or damaging the pins in the socket.

  5. I am using the Dell Latitude 7390 model which has similar issue. I attempted number of M.2 PCIe SSD 2242 variant on the WWAN slot and it didn’t work. I wasn’t aware of the fact that Dell willingly disabled the PCie port on M.2 slot. Not so surprisingly “SSD” was not marked on the motherboard either. It took me little while to grasp the whole idea. Thank you.

  6. I have a dell 5580 i5 that accepted in its WWAN port both Pcie ssd b+m key 2242 and SATA3 b+m key 2242. No problem. And even a 3rd sata ssd with an additional bracket close to the battery.
    But on a Dell e7450 i7, the one with the msata port only, not the 2.5 sata port which is the i5 version of E7450, NONE of the ssds I have (sata or pcie b+m key 2242) worked in the WWAN port (Bios and Windows). I wonder if it’s something locked in the Bios because nothing is visible in the Bios. The Bios suggests that only another sata ssd would be accepted if it’s a ssd connected to a dell docking station, zero mention in the bios of a pcie possible option, or another sata port. In that case, maybe in modding the bios those options would become available. The only thing is Dell laptops Bioses seem to be almost impossible to mod so deeply (just with SLIC I think). Thank you for your suggestions.
    Ah! And when I put in place the ssds in the E7450, it fit in, but it seemed the WWAN connector was a bit more tight than the one we find in the 5580 (but they look the same, I don’t understand) to put the ssds in place.

  7. Just a note to say that HCA does not stand for Host Channel Adapter, as speculated, but in fact Hardware Crypto Accelerator. This is confirmed in multiple online Dell articles and PDF manuals.

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