MiniPCI Express slot

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A MiniPCI Express slot is a version of the PCI-Express x1 slot for Notebooks.

NOTE!
There are two physical form factors, a standard 30×50.95 mm, and a half-height 30×26.8 mm. Which one fits depends on the slot.


Models featuring MiniPCI Express slots

MiniPCI Express Adapters

WLAN

WWAN

Other

Compatibility

Designated slots

According to the design, each slot is intended for a specific purpose. In the X200 for example, the three slots are for:

The purpose of each slot decides over:

  • antenna cable routing (or placement of other connectors)
  • details of some pins of the MiniPCI Express connector
    • RF kill signal (one pin)
    • LED signal lines (several pins, one for each type (WLAN, WWAN) of LED)
    • SIM card slot access (three/four(?) pins giving access to a SIM card (in a slot somewhere))

In case of the X200, I can confirm that the WLAN LED pin of the WLAN slot is connected to the WLAN LED (as everyone might have guessed). Same is true of the WWAN LED pin in the WWAN slot.

Some questions which remain open:

  • Does the RF kill hardware switch kill the WWAN slot?
  • Is the WWAN LED pin in the WLAN slot connected to something and vice versa?
  • Are the wires from the SIM card slot connected to all MiniPCI Express slots or only the WWAN slot?

Questions answered for the ThinkPad X200:

  • The WLAN LED pin in the WWAN slot does not go the WWAN LED.
  • The RF kill pin is active (grounded) in the WWAN slot at least under some circumstances and there is a SMAPI software switch which might be able to toggle that signal.
  • Antenna cables go to their supposed slots by default, but are long enough to be rerouted to any slot.

BIOS checks

The BIOS is know to check PCI IDs (via whitelist) and block the boot process if it’s not satisfied (1802 error). The details vary. Above mentioned hardware might only be accepted if it comes with one set of possible IDs (for Lenovo). The same hardware (from the driver’s viewpoint) is often also available with other IDs if it is sold though other channels. (see also Problem with unauthorized MiniPCI network card, 1802 with MiniPCIe on t60,same).

Non-official patched versions of BIOS files are available for X300, X61, X61s, T61, T61p, R61, R61e (and others, i did it to x60s) which remove whitelist restrictions allowing non-lenovo PCI-e devices.. (see forum post: Ultimate R61/T61/X61/X300 BIOS (inc SATA-II)

External sources