Wednesday, January 10th 2018

ASRock Intros Ultra Quad M.2 Card

ASRock introduced the Ultra Quad M.2 Card, an add-on card that lets you easily set up an M.2 NVMe RAID array with up to four drives with 32 Gbps bandwidth for each drive. In principle, this product does exactly what ASUS Hyper M.2 x16 Riser card does, but better. The first benefit is shorter traces- while the ASUS card has M.2 slots arranged horizontally along the plane of the card, with the topmost slot being farthest away from the PCI-Express interface, the ASRock card has them arranged diagonally, in a way that ensures each slot is close to the PCIe bus. ASRock also claims better thermals with a larger 50 mm fan (vs. 40 mm of the ASUS card) and longer thermal pads (110 mm vs 80 mm), power stability with a 6-pin PCIe power input, and software control over the fan. The card supports NVMe RAID on both Intel X299 and AMD X399 platforms. The card is expected to be priced around USD $69.99.
ASRock presentation slides follow.

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15 Comments on ASRock Intros Ultra Quad M.2 Card

#1
Chaitanya
Atleast this one works with Threadripper.
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#2
timta2
Nice product. I might have to try one of these.
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#3
CheapMeat
I'm digging it for sure. I really like the quad adapters and this is at least more affordable than the Highpoint and Aplicata ones. Though, I reaaally doubt even the highest end M.2 NVMe SSDs in RAID0 would need more than the 75 watts the PCIe slot gives (in regards to the 6-pin power connector).
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#4
dj-electric
ASRock is Joseph Joestar of the hardware industry.
I love this stuff, looks promising
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#5
bonehead123
This thing looks promising, but where the hell did they get those temps and what drives were they from?

And here I thought my Evo's were running hot at 38-40c...and they are mounted on PCIE cards with only an EKWB heatsink on each one but NO fan....
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#6
lZKoce
Each individual drive on this card needs Adata XPG storm on it ;) Would be quite a light show and may be sound show ( was it 16 500 rpm on that little bugger ?)

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#7
stavssen
...one correction. Asus card does support M.2-22110 drives (see pic)
"The ASUS card features a PCI-Express 3.0 x16 upstream interface, which it splits into four 32 Gb/s M.2-22110 slots (up to 110 mm length)"
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#8
AnarchoPrimitiv
CheapMeat said:
I'm digging it for sure. I really like the quad adapters and this is at least more affordable than the Highpoint and Aplicata ones. Though, I reaaally doubt even the highest end M.2 NVMe SSDs in RAID0 would need more than the 75 watts the PCIe slot gives (in regards to the 6-pin power connector).
The difference is that the highpoint SSD7101A RAID card has its OWN raid controller, unlike Asus's, and can do RAID 0,1,5,10 without relying on software, that's why it's $400...it is also capable of managing a raid array across multiple cards
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#9
kithylin
When you guys review this -PLEASE- try and see if this device works in any other computers, Like Intel x99 for example, even if it only does RAID-0. Praying that this thing is -NOT- exclusive to the new X399 / X299 systems and will actually work in any computer. So please test this to see if it's true.
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#10
Aquinus
Resident Wat-man
kithylin said:
When you guys review this -PLEASE- try and see if this device works in any other computers, Like Intel x99 for example, even if it only does RAID-0. Praying that this thing is -NOT- exclusive to the new X399 / X299 systems and will actually work in any computer. So please test this to see if it's true.
If this thing works on older boards without RAID support but, still allowing for 4xM.2 cards, then I'm all for it. My X79 board still has plenty of PCIe lanes to use and upgrading just about everything else is too expensive right now (think DRAM and GPUs.)
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#11
newtekie1
Semi-Retired Folder
I'm more interested in what happens if you use less than a x16 slot. If you use an x8 do two of the slots just get completely disabled, or do they all work but at half speed?
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#12
Aquinus
Resident Wat-man
newtekie1 said:
I'm more interested in what happens if you use less than a x16 slot. If you use an x8 do two of the slots just get completely disabled, or do they all work but at half speed?
I suspect you would lose the two last M.2 slots. If you look carefully at the card in the picture, you can see the right-most M.2 slot traces going to the right most part of the PCIe connector without any switching hardware in between, which would (to me,) indicate that half the lanes would mean half the M.2 slots if all the others are configured the same way but, the contrast and brightness makes it hard to see if the others are wired that way. If ASRock is touting the length of the M.2 slot to the PCIe slot, then I suspect that they're not having lanes cross each other by grabbing two lanes from the beginning of the slot then two near the end of the slot to allow them all to drop to 2 lanes if it's electrically 8 lanes. It would probably cost more to produce as well.

Look at it this way, if you're considering using 4xM.2 SSDs, you're probably not using a mainstream platform.
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#13
lukart
With 70$ price tag, I might just go crazy and try it out.. :D
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#14
kaji
Can this card hold 4xM.2 SSDs WITHOUT X299 and X399? ---AND---no Intel SSD required? I don't need RAID, just want my old M.2 SSDs(multiple brands) can still work together on my Z170. If it can work in this way, I'm in !
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#15
msroadkill612
Interesting times in that we are on the cusp of am4 having the same raid ability as TR4 it seems, w/ the new 400 series mobos. These new mobos should be able to do native bootable nvme 2x raid using an 8 lane dgpu.

I like the shorter traces.

I am skeptical of the shroud and cheesy fan arrangements on some of these board. I think I prefer a bare board & make my own ventilation arrangements.

These powerful raid arrays are a case in point imo, as to why lane/core rich and quad channel ram amd tr4 is so much better than a similarly priced intel with its increasingly marginal ipc advantage.

Only a very few expensive intel rigs offer 16, or even 8, lanes spare w/ a 16 lane dgpu installed, so intel buyers can forget it. Do not be fooled by Intel's onboard nvme ports. They have a combined 4 lane bandwidth that just one good nvme could saturate. Using their alleged nvme raid on these ports is ~useless for speed.

Folks dont seem to have got their heads around what a powerful resource ~ram speed storage is/promises to be. I find it hard to believe many apps like games & vid editing can't use it to good effect. On Vega, such arrays can even be used as gpu cache extenders, for effectively unlimited gpu memory size.

For now its expensive, but getting better and cheaper, but speed should not be confused with costly capacity - that's a separate issue for a separate drive. Very fast 256GB Evos are $120US ea., and pretty fast (~60% of Evo read speed & similar write speed) corsair (superior MLC nand) 120GB are $70 on newegg. Even 480GB is huge as virtual memory or a scratch drive.

It bears reiterating that these are mere adapters. They do no processing. They simply make a direct link from the nvme drive controller to the cpu. Just because there are expensive, seemingly similar, intelligent raid cards like highpoint out there for $500+, doesnt mean these simple cards need to be dear too. $85US+ is too much. $55US~ would be fair, but its a sellers market atm.
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