Monday, January 13th 2020

ASRock to Launch Hyper Quad M.2 PCIe 4.0 Expansion Card

ASRock is looking to launch a PCIe expansion card for all of your M.2 needs. Should you find your current motherboard is already full to the gills with M.2 SSDs, ASRock's Hyper Quad M.2 PCIe expansion card will allow you to increase M.2 vacancy by up to four additional slots (there's an on-off toggle for you to move in the PCB to select the active M.2 SSDs). The card uses the PCIe 4.0 x16 interface to sufficiently feed the four M.2 SSDs (which typically use the PCIe 4x NVMe protocol) with data.

This is a top notch expansion card design, featuring an aluminium cover and a 50 mm fan to cool down all those SSDs' controllers. The cover features 4x 110 mm thermal pads which align with the M.2 mounts on the PCB, thus allowing the aluminium cover to serve as a veritable heatsink and improve operating temperatures. The expansion card is fed by a single 6-pin power connector, and there is an activity LED for quality of life improvements. No word on pricing just yet.
Sources: ASRock, Guru3D
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24 Comments on ASRock to Launch Hyper Quad M.2 PCIe 4.0 Expansion Card

#1
Mark Little
Can you configure the 4x cards in a RAID array?
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#2
thesmokingman
Mark Little
Can you configure the 4x cards in a RAID array?
That's the idea. Though the mb would need to support bifurication.
Posted on Reply
#3
r9370
Reminds me of the old Gigabyte I-RAM drives :rockout: Come to think of it, didnt OCZ have a similar thing? (ie: with DDR dimms not M2/nvme drives)
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#4
bug
Only one problem with this: no consumer motherboard can spare a 16x PCIe4 slot today. Unless you remove the graphics card.
Posted on Reply
#5
r9370
bug
Only one problem with this: no consumer motherboard can spare a 16x PCIe4 slot today. Unless you remove the graphics card.
2x pcie 4.0 x16 - 8x8 would be just fine
Posted on Reply
#6
firewrath9
bug
Only one problem with this: no consumer motherboard can spare a 16x PCIe4 slot today. Unless you remove the graphics card.
TRX40?
They have 64 PCIe lanes. The ASRock TRX40 Creator can run in 16x+16x+8x mode, so you can have a GPU in the 16x and 8x slots and this in another 16x slot. Might be useful to have for video editors that need lots of fast storage i guess.
Posted on Reply
#7
AnarchoPrimitiv
Mark Little
Can you configure the 4x cards in a RAID array?
It'd be only software RAID I believe... For something truly enthusiast, I'd recommend getting a Highpoint Storage SSD7103 4x m.2 RAID adapter that can do hardware RAID 0/1/10 and is Bootable (it can also do a single raid array across multiple adapters). It's PCIe 3.0, but I'm sure they'll have a PCIe 4.0 version soon.
Posted on Reply
#8
FreedomEclipse
~Technological Technocrat~
The airflow for this is going to be pretty whack.... the way the SSDs are positioned is going to mean that some get airflow and some dont at all and even then its going to be heavily restricted
Posted on Reply
#9
thesmokingman
bug
Only one problem with this: no consumer motherboard can spare a 16x PCIe4 slot today. Unless you remove the graphics card.
This is for HEDT and servers.

FreedomEclipse
The airflow for this is going to be pretty whack.... the way the SSDs are positioned is going to mean that some get airflow and some dont at all and even then its going to be heavily restricted
This. I'ved used the Gigabyte AIC card and its overheat city. Remove the stupid shroud and slap on heatsinks.

https://hardforum.com/threads/build-3970x-dual-2080ti-8tb-m-2-raid-render-monster.1990145/page-3#post-1044435857
Posted on Reply
#10
TheLostSwede
AnarchoPrimitiv
It'd be only software RAID I believe... For something truly enthusiast, I'd recommend getting a Highpoint Storage SSD7103 4x m.2 RAID adapter that can do hardware RAID 0/1/10 and is Bootable (it can also do a single raid array across multiple adapters). It's PCIe 3.0, but I'm sure they'll have a PCIe 4.0 version soon.
I think your confused, that's a "fake" RAID card, as there's no local cache or battery backup. That's just as useful as soft RAID.
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#11
newtekie1
Semi-Retired Folder
TheLostSwede
I think your confused, that's a "fake" RAID card, as there's no local cache or battery backup. That's just as useful as soft RAID.
It still has it's own RAID controller, so significantly better than software RAID.
Posted on Reply
#12
thesmokingman
newtekie1
It still has it's own RAID controller, so significantly better than software RAID.
These cards are for RAID 0, which is wasted on a hw solution.
Posted on Reply
#13
TheLostSwede
newtekie1
It still has it's own RAID controller, so significantly better than software RAID.
No, it doesn't. Go look up the spec and you'll see it has no such thing.
It has a pair of these, which are PCIe 3.0 switches.
https://www.broadcom.com/products/pcie-switches-bridges/pcie-switches/pex8747
They've added a bit of software that allows you to make a fake RAID and that's it.
There's no real CPU offloading, there's as I said, no onboard cache, nor any battery backup, so this is not a hardware RAID card.

It also has one of these, for some reason (SATA support?)
https://www.marvell.com/documents/xnzfwfktuicdpjakssrh/

Apparently it's not particularly good either.
https://forums.macrumors.com/threads/highpoint-7102.2172333/page-5?post=27498666#post-27498666

It's also $450, compared to $50-100 for something like the ASRock card.
Posted on Reply
#14
he_found_you
software (Win10) RAID is simpler and usually faster than either way of connecting NVMe https://www.pugetsystems.com/labs/articles/NVMe-RAID-0-Performance-in-Windows-10-Pro-1369/

If you think about it, it's logical - the NVMe connection is the fastest way for data to travel between CPU and storage. Having PCI-E bifurcation - which is required for the M.2 x16 riser cards to work and putting more PCI splitters only adds latency to an already good protocol.
So if your CPU and MB give enough lanes, and you can somehow map each PCI lane to an NVMe drive's lane, it's irrelevant how you make your RAID.
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#15
Axaion
thats gonna be real toasty, heh
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#16
bonehead123
wait...doesn't ASUS already own the "Hyper M.2 card" moniker ?

Or did ASRock license it from them or what ?
Posted on Reply
#17
er557
using this card
https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07NQBQB6Z/ref=ppx_yo_dt_b_asin_title_o05_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1

my mobo bifurcates the lanes, and I still can run 2x gpu @each pcie 3.0 x16, a marvell pcie sata controller, and a pcie soundblaster z card.

I also bought this
https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B071S3ZY8P/ref=ppx_yo_dt_b_asin_title_o07_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1
initially, but it only has room for two drives, and is now a spare host for future use for nvme on boards that support but dont have the physical interface.

The more expensive controller cards do exist that have a bridge chip, hardware raid, and all the bells and whistles, but I dont accept splurging 400$ for them.
Posted on Reply
#18
kapone32
These are for HEDT or people on X570 that have a 5500XT as the 2nd x16 slot should have 8 lanes available to run 2 drives. Well I have 2 of the PCI_E 3.0 variants in my rig and I absolutely love them. The difference between a hardware and software RAID using these cards is minimal. The temps are never more than 45 C on any drive I have in the enclosure. There is also the fact that you can set these up to run 4x,4x4,4x4x4, and 4x4x4x4. As I see up to 7000 MB/s sequential with 4 660Ps I can only imagine how fast 2 or 4 PCIE_4.0 drives would be using this adapter. The build quality and thermal materials are also very good.

firewrath9
TRX40?
They have 64 PCIe lanes. The ASRock TRX40 Creator can run in 16x+16x+8x mode, so you can have a GPU in the 16x and 8x slots and this in another 16x slot. Might be useful to have for video editors that need lots of fast storage i guess.
Actually I think there is one more 8 lane PCI_E slot. On my X399 I have 1 of these fully populated and another with 2 with my 2 GPUs.
Posted on Reply
#19
mak1skav
Is this the same card that is included with the ASRock TRX40 Creator motherboard? There is a build video in Youtube using one and the transfer speed looked quite good.
Posted on Reply
#20
newtekie1
Semi-Retired Folder
TheLostSwede
No, it doesn't. Go look up the spec and you'll see it has no such thing.
It has a pair of these, which are PCIe 3.0 switches.
https://www.broadcom.com/products/pcie-switches-bridges/pcie-switches/pex8747
They've added a bit of software that allows you to make a fake RAID and that's it.
There's no real CPU offloading, there's as I said, no onboard cache, nor any battery backup, so this is not a hardware RAID card.

It also has one of these, for some reason (SATA support?)
https://www.marvell.com/documents/xnzfwfktuicdpjakssrh/

Apparently it's not particularly good either.
https://forums.macrumors.com/threads/highpoint-7102.2172333/page-5?post=27498666#post-27498666

It's also $450, compared to $50-100 for something like the ASRock card.
I wonder how they are making it bootable then?
Posted on Reply
#21
kapone32
mak1skav
Is this the same card that is included with the ASRock TRX40 Creator motherboard? There is a build video in Youtube using one and the transfer speed looked quite good.
Yes it is. I guess that they have decided like Asus to sell the card as is.
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#22
er557
newtekie1
I wonder how they are making it bootable then?
because it has a physical additional controller from marvell/highpoint in addition to the pcie bridge chips, hence it supports boards that dont bifurcate natively, and even those without nvme support(any uefi pcie mobo). However, latency and throughput suffers and good luck with that 500$.
Posted on Reply
#23
InVasMani
er557
because it has a physical additional controller from marvell/highpoint in addition to the pcie bridge chips, hence it supports boards that dont bifurcate natively, and even those without nvme support(any uefi pcie mobo). However, latency and throughput suffers and good luck with that 500$.
That's some sticker shock.
Posted on Reply
#24
MRFS
> "(there's an on-off toggle for you to move in the PCB to select the active M.2 SSDs) "

I believe the article is incorrect where it describes the DIP switches on the ASRock 4x4 AIC (see above):

ASRock's implementation supports multiple AICs, not merely four M.2 SSDs on a single AIC.
This graphic clearly shows 4 x AICs at lower right:

https://www.asrock.com/mb/features/Ultra-Quad-M2-Card05.jpg

If anyone is interested in some slightly dated documentation,
ASRock's Tech Support responded very promptly when we
requested documentation for designing a bootable RAID-0 array
on an AMD TR system using this Ultra Quad M.2 card:

http://supremelaw.org/systems/asrock/X399/

mak1skav
Is this the same card that is included with the ASRock TRX40 Creator motherboard? There is a build video in Youtube using one and the transfer speed looked quite good.
Probably NOT: check with the seller, to be sure.

The Gen4 version was only announced very recently, so
there's a good chance the Gen3 version is the one that
is included with the ASRock TRX40 Creator motherboard.

I don't see any AIC in this documentation, just 3 integrated M.2 ports:

https://images10.newegg.com/BizIntell/item/13/157/13-157-902/PCIeSteel-TRX40%20Creator_112719.jpg


EDIT: found this at Newegg's product page:

"ASRock Hyper M.2 (PCIe Gen4 x4 & SATA3) "

-and-

"M.2 PCI Express module up to Gen4 x4 (64Gb/s)*
* Supports NVMe SSD as boot disks"


Latter is NOT listed under "Accessories" however.

Hope this helps.

TheLostSwede
that's a "fake" RAID card, as there's no local cache or battery backup. That's just as useful as soft RAID.
For desktop systems, a functional substitute for an on-card battery
is a UPS / battery backup for the entire system, of which there are
now many to choose from e.g. APC now offers versions that
output a pure sine wave, instead of a digital "stair-step" approximation.

The one big disadvantage of an OS "software RAID" is that Windows will not boot from such a software RAID.
I can conceive of a way to make an OS software RAID bootable, e.g. by writing config files to a USB thumb drive
and choosing a related option in the motherboard's BIOS: but, MS has chosen NOT to consider such an option.

On the other hand, with so many cores in modern CPUs, an otherwise idle core is available
to do the computation that a dedicated RAID processor performed in older implementations.

Think of "bifurcation" as moving that "dedicated RAID controller" back into the CPU
to perform as a general-purpose central processor.

Re: on-board cache for dedicated RAID controller

See:
https://www.enmotus.com/midrive

When a RAID-0 array is enabled, the caches that may exist in each M.2 SSD
are effectively summed, to produce a much larger "aggregate" cache.

The MiDrive goes even further by moving most recently used files into SLC,
and moving the least recently used files into QLC.

I expect that we are now seeing only the beginning of extraordinary
engineering possibilities, now that storage vendors have recognized
the upstream potential of x16 expansion slots.
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