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Rookie company plans $2,800 add-on card that supports up to 21 PCIe 4.0 SSDs, 168TB Story-level




Enlarge / SSD not included of course.

For high-capacity storage needs, the average consumer turns to hard disk drives (HDDs). They are generally not as fast or reliable as SSDs, but they are a hell of a lot cheaper. he Apex X21 Storage However, the add-on card (AIC) currently circulating the internet is not about using the most cost-effective storage. Instead, the expansion card, which appears to be a debut product from an as-yet-unknown storage company, is for individuals or businesses willing to spend whatever it takes to stock the card with up to 21 NVMe PCIe 4.0 M.2 SSDs of 8TB. .

tom’s hardware He first spotted the X21’s website on Sunday, and Henry Hill, in company sales and engineering, confirmed the product to Ars Technica via email. He said the product will cost $2,800, with discounts available for volume purchases, shipping in the second quarter. Samples are already available for high-volume customers, he said, with shipments to consumers to begin “before the end of 2023.”

Mike Spicer, listed as founder and CEO of Apex Storage, launched a starters in 2021 with a concept similar to the X21. Instead of 21 M.2 SSDs, the Apex Storage Scaler claimed to support a modest 16 SSDs. It’s unclear how many, if any, of these cards made their way to backers. However, in July, Spicer hinted at a “V2” of the product in Twitter.

The X21 product page says that the AIC works in a standard PCIe 4.0 x16 slot. The images show 10 slots and a heat sink inside a pair of printed circuit boards (PCBs).


There are also 11 slots on the outside of the PCB. The card is reportedly full-height and full-length and supports QLC, TLC, MLC, and Intel Optane drives. In terms of operating systems, there is support for Windows 10, 11, and Server, in addition to Linux.

Typical power consumption is listed at 95 W, but it can go as high as 225 W.
Enlarge / Typical power consumption is listed at 95 W, but it can go as high as 225 W.

“The card is PCIe fanout, so RAID support would be provided via software or a third-party hardware solution, such as Graid,” Hill told Ars Technica.

Apex Storage also expects the AIC to be able to support up to 336TB should 16TB 2280 M.2 SSDs hit the market.

Speaking of forward thinking, this component is not technically future proof as it is not PCIe 5.0 compatible (it is backwards compatible with PCIe 3.0). But while the X21 isn’t aimed at budget-conscious users who would opt for HDDs, using PCIe 5.0 SSDs would be even more prohibitive. The AIC’s cooling requirements would also increase. As is, the X21 requires an airflow of 400 LFM (linear feet per minute).

In terms of performance, Apex Storage claims sequential read and write speeds of up to 30.5 and 26.5 GBps, respectively, while a multi-card setup claims 107 GBps and 70 GBps, respectively. The Apex Storage website also targets 7.5 million IOPS random reads and 6.2 million IOPS random writes with a card, and those numbers expand to 20 million and 10 million, respectively, in a configuration of various cards.

Apex Storage sees the X21 being used for a NAS or SAN array, 8K video editing, AI and machine learning training, and other use cases, including heavily enterprise ones. Considering the high price of 21 PCIe 4.0 SSDs, the company can make a more realistic claim to businesses than to individuals. Filling out the AIC could cost more than $21,000 for a regular consumer, plus the price of the card itself. Alternative products, like the HighPoint SSD7540, can take it $1,099 but they have smaller maximum capacities (64TB in the case of the SSD7540).

Without any previous products, it is difficult to know if this self described The Utah-based “PCIe AIC Design Company” will be able to deliver on its promises. But it will be interesting to find out.

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