We have a sneak peek of a shipping Dell workstation card that has four m.2 slots for PCIe/ NVMe SSDs all on one PCIe card slot. This is significant because many consumer workstations have PCIe x16 slots and adding four gum stick size yet high performance SSDs can be seen as a way to easily add fast an inexpensive storage. The particular Dell card we have exclusive information on does not have a part number we can find or order separately, but can be ordered with the Dell Precision T7910 workstation as a quad PCIe/ NVMe SSD option.
Today we had the news of the HP Z Turbo Quad Pro. It is a PCIe x16 device with four m.2 drive slots onboard. Here is the HP version:
What we can see there is a heatsink and fan assembly along with four m.2 SSDs. Perhaps the more interesting view is what is under the HP logo. We have been working with the Dell version recently. This Dell 4x m.2 SSD PCIe x16 card we have had in the lab for well over a month. It features a similar design to the HP Z Turbo Quad Pro.
The Dell alternative to the HP Z Turbo Quad Pro
This card we have looked up all markings on and have not found the part number. It is one of the options on the Dell Precision T7910 workstation. Here is what the card looks like closed up:
One can see the 4-pin fan and a giant shroud. On the back of the card we can see the fan bolted to a PCB assembly with multiple through holes for the different m.2 mounting sizes. We can also clearly see a PCIe x16 connector.
Inside the unit we can see spots for four m.2 SSDs. The hinged cooling duct is very easy to use when accessing the drives. We will note that we did not get a heatsink with the Dell card.
With the rear of the unit having no significant electronic components, we can see the array at the expansion slot edge of the card.
The reason this card, and possibly the HP Z Turbo Quad Pro will be a bad fit for most systems is not just “BIOS locking” but it is an issue of PCIe bifurcation. We have a picture of the two cards we used in our adding 2.5″ NVMe to a desktop/ server article from a few months ago.
The Supermicro AOC-SLG3-2E4R will only work in motherboards that have PCIe switches onboard. Otherwise CPU PCIe lanes cannot handle two PCIe devices on a single PCIe slot. Likewise, the Supermicro AOC-SLG3-2E4 has an Avago/ PLX switch chip onboard and thus can take the single PCIe x8 slot and use it for two devices. (See the piece on Supermicro AOC-SLG3-2E4R and AOC-SLG3-2E4 differences.) When we look at the Dell card, it does not have the PCIe switch chip and is why the card is not compatible with every system. The big questions are whether the HP Z Turbo Quad Pro has a PCIe switch chip, and if so, are the cards BIOS locked to prevent them from being used in other systems? If they do have the PCIe switch chip and are not BIOS locked, they will be good solutions. If they do not have the PCIe switch chip or are BIOS locked, then they will be similarly hard to work with as this Dell 4x m.2 PCIe x16 card.
If anyone has tips on the Dell workstation part number please post it in comments.