Adapter cards for the PCIe slots that house the four M.2 SSDs on their backs have been around for a long time. Gigabyte recently announced one for eight M.2 SSDs with PCIe 4.0. On Kickstarter, hardware nerds take it even further when it comes to numbers: The storage scaler accommodates a 16 M.2 SSD, but only supports SATA models.
28 cm board surrounded by 16 m.2 slots
Eight M.2 slots with M-keys are located on both sides of the 28 cm long adapter card with PCIe 4x connectors. This means that a total of 16 M.2 SSDs with SATA interfaces can be accommodated. Power is supplied either through the PCIe slot or through a 6-pin socket, as is known from the graphics card. The actual data transfer doesn’t happen through the PCIe slot, but through the four SFF-8643 connections on the back of the card. This is connected to a RAID controller or host bus adapter (HBA), which is absolutely necessary as the solution does not have its own controller.
Up to 16 SSDs can be connected to a RAID array. As an example, the team shows a screenshot with 16 “Samsung 850” type SSDs of 512 GB each, which together form a logical data carrier with 8 TB. With sequential reading this network achieves about 7.4 Gb/s. The result matches the current high-end single PCIe 4.0 SSD, so it’s not impressive. The possibility of connecting a large number of M.2 data carriers to the system in a small space is probably the real argument in favor of the storage scalar.
The foreign product is not cheap at all: supporters will have to pay at least 415 US dollars. If the campaign to end in 25 days is successful, distribution is to begin in September. As always, there is some degree of risk involved in such projects.