Customized PCI Express Gen 3 Carrier Board for 4 M.2 SSD modules

Discussion in 'Hard Drives and Solid State Drives' started by larryexchange, Dec 21, 2017.

  1. larryexchange

    larryexchange Active Member

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    2.png bout one year ago, I bought an Amfeltec PCI Express Gen 3 Carrier Board for 4 M.2 SSD modules for my SYS-E300-8D. But later on I found my X10SDV MB can support PCIe Bifurcation. So I decide to replace Amfeltec with a carrier board w/o PLX.

    But the problem is at that time I could not find any board meet the following requirements in the market.
    1. HHHL size, otherwise it could not fit into my SYS-E300-8D
    2. PCIe 3.0 x16 interface
    3. Support 4 M.2 NVMe SSD up to 22110 size.
    4. Low cost w/o PLX

    So I convinced the vendor who help me design Cheap 1U PCIe M.2 Riser design a brand-new board for me. Here is their drafted design.
    165835zulgo0rz1o1fvimm.png

    Different from Amfeltec's design, in order to be more cost effective, vendor put all 4 SSD on one side of the board. Due to HHHL size limitation, vendor uses two layers, 2 SSD each layer.

    Today I got the chance to play with the new board. Here is what real produce looks like.
    IMG_1205 (Medium).JPG

    Now I am ready to plug in my 3 SM963 22110 size SSDs into the board.
    IMG_1204 (Medium).JPG

    Here is what it looks like after plug in M.2 SSD.
    IMG_1206 (Medium).JPG

    IMG_1207 (Medium).JPG

    IMG_1212 (Medium).JPG

    After plug the board into my SYS-E300-8D and power it on. I can see all the 3 SM953 SSDs from the device manager.
    DevMgr.png

    CDI also shows each of the SSD running at PCIe 3.0 x4. The temperature is also good.
    2.png 3.png 4.png

    The vendor is still optimizing the design. But from my point of view, the bottom line the board already meets all of my requirements the above. Super!
     
    #1
  2. i386

    i386 Well-Known Member

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    Can you run "stress tests" on these ssds and then look what temperatures you get?
     
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  3. alex_stief

    alex_stief Active Member

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    I would also expect this layout to be prone to thermal throttling issues under sustained load.
     
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  4. larryexchange

    larryexchange Active Member

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    I don't worry about that coz I added the 3rd 13Krpm fan into SYS-E300-8D, which is dedicate for the PCIe device.
    mini Azure Stack
     
    #4
  5. alex_stief

    alex_stief Active Member

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    Ok that's a different story then :cool:
     
    #5
  6. Morphers

    Morphers Member

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    Anyway you can do this for u.2?
     
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  7. Terry Kennedy

    Terry Kennedy Well-Known Member

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    I would be very interested in a version of this that had a perforated (vent holes) FH bracket. Ideally the M.2 sockets would be:

    Upper (furthest from PCIe connector) bottom (closest to PC board) - PCIe lanes 1-4
    Lower (closest to PCIe connector) bottom (closest to PC board) - PCIe lanes 5-8
    Upper top - PCIe lanes 9-12
    Lower top - PCIe lanes 13-16

    That would mean that a single M.2 drive goes in the position with the best airflow and should work even on a system that doesn't support PCIe bifurcation, since the host will only see a single M.2 on PCIe lanes 1-4.

    Bonus points for individual activity LEDs on the board as well as jumpers for 4 activity LEDs plus one "combined" activity LED.

    While I'm wishing, route the PCIe lanes on the board so that as much material as possible can be milled out (holes) from the board to allow more airflow across the underside of the bottom M.2 boards.

    I'm not crazy about the "dog bone" stacking adapter, but as I'd only be using these with 1 or 2 drives, I can live with it.
     
    #7
  8. larryexchange

    larryexchange Active Member

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    Great Feedbacks! I definitely will share them with the vendor.

    Btw, if you only want to plug in up to 2 M.2 drives, you could find more options in the market. AFIAK, both DELL and SuperMicro have the similar products. Here is an example.

    IMG_0827 (Medium).JPG IMG_0815 (Medium).JPG
     
    #8
    Last edited: Dec 24, 2017
  9. gigatexal

    gigatexal I'm here to learn

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    Benchmarks or it didn’t happen ;-)p
     
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  10. Terry Kennedy

    Terry Kennedy Well-Known Member

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    Thanks!
    I'm not sure that is a genuine Dell card, for a couple of reasons:
    • The Dell part number on the sticker is bogus - 02NGFF/2NGFF.
    • The Dell copyright says 2009, but the PCB fab date on the silk screen is 2015. NVMe wasn't even started until late 2009, with the NVMe 1.0 spec not released until March 2011.
    • PCIe 3.0 wasn't released until November 2010, making the idea of a PCIe 3 / NVMe 1.1 Dell board in 2009 pretty implausible.
    • I don't see Tripod in Wuxi City, Jiangsu listed as a Dell supplier.
    • There are a lot of active components on that board, which I can't make out in detail on that picture. Given the obvious crystal, though, I bet there is a PLX PCIe switch or something similar on there.
    • Neither "zoom pcie ssd card 2 device" nor "zoom-pcie-ssd-card-2-device" return any Google matches when quoted to force a literal search.
    • The "ventilation" holes on that card are pretty laughable, given the small amount of airflow you get over the bottom of an M.2 stick. Both Dell and Supermicro use brackets with larger vent holes on their cards.
    • I'm a little confused by what look like 4 un-populated SMA antenna connector pads with "swoopy" PCB traces, all 4 of which would impinge on any M.2 sticks except for the very shortest. I'm not sure why RF antennas would be needed on a a storage card.
    I think what we have here (until proven otherwise) is a "counterfeit" of something that doesn't actually exist in a "real" version.
     
    #10
  11. larryexchange

    larryexchange Active Member

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    I am not 100% sure but personally I think that card is authenticated. I could answer some of questions you have.

    @Patrick Kennedy reviewed the similar card before. The Dell 4x m.2 PCIe x16 version of the HP Z Turbo Quad Pro . If you looked that quad card, copyright is also 2009. The difference is one is Duo and the other is Quad.


    I can confirm, same as Quad adapter, the Duo adapter doesn't have PLX.



    In the official page below, DELL mentioned:
    High-performance storage: Choose the actively cooled Dell Precision Ultra-Speed Drive Duo and Quad PCIe NVMe SSD storage solutions for the fastest and most reliable way to store your content, up to 14xfaster than traditional SATA SSD storage. So you could see DELL have both Duo and Quad version of Zoom PCIe SSD Card.

    Dell Precision Tower 7810 Workstation | Dell India



    I managed to replace the bracket w/ one from LSI HBA adapter (9207/9211). Sorry for misleading. :)
     
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  12. Terry Kennedy

    Terry Kennedy Well-Known Member

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    The card in Patrick's article is part 80G5N and is from one of Dell's regular suppliers, Foxconn in Tucheng, New Taipei. The PCB fab was subcontracted to Broad Technology in Guangzhou, Guangdong.
    There are a fair amount of active components on there - none of the file photos are high enough resolution to see what they are.

    The board does have the same oddball SMA antenna pads and loopy traces. The red board you show may be a prototype or from a vendor that was not selected to build it.
    You switched to a HH bracket? The 805GN file photos show a normal-for-Dell 2 rows of square holes, like they use on their filler brackets.
     
    #12
  13. larryexchange

    larryexchange Active Member

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    Yes, when I was plugging it into my SYS-E300-8D, I had to use a HH bracket. Here are more pictures. I am sorry these are largest resolution pictures I could upload.
    IMG_1233 (Custom).JPG IMG_1234 (Custom).JPG IMG_1235 (Custom).JPG
     
    #13
    Last edited: Dec 25, 2017
  14. Rand__

    Rand__ Well-Known Member

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    Very nice work:)
    For the general public some cooling optimization will be important as most won't run this in a very well cooled system to start with.
    Regardless, are you planning to make those available like your other adapters? Whats the cost associated with it? :)
     
    #14
  15. larryexchange

    larryexchange Active Member

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    It's still kind of prototype. When it's ready, I believe the vendor would love to sale it in US market. They didn't tell me the price coz the design has not been finalized yet. Personally I don't think there are many people need such card, especially considering most of MBs don't have PLX or support PCIe Bifurcation.
     
    #15
  16. Rand__

    Rand__ Well-Known Member

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    From what I gathered many of the Supermicro X11 (e5) boards have bifurcation support built-in. Also it has been added to some x11(e3) and x10(e5) boards
     
    #16
  17. Evan

    Evan Well-Known Member

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    PCIe Bifurcation Is not that uncommon at all, as mentioned most modern CPU’s or rather their boards tend to support it.
    Much more efficient way to use PCIe slots if you can put 2 or 4 x NVMe m.2 in a single slot.
    In 1u servers or small boxes this is especially important.

    Slot7 on x10sdv boards also splits x16 to x8/x8
     
    #17
  18. larryexchange

    larryexchange Active Member

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    I discussed your feedback with the vendor. Basically they took all of them. :)

    1. FH/HH bracket with vent holes. They will provide the brackets with vent holes. In addition, I suggest them use the standard bracket. In that way, end users could replace it with the brackets they favorite.

    2. They redesign the board as below.
    M.2 Carrier Board.png

    3. They will use a 7-pin connector to show drive activities on the chassis. Meanwhile, they will add 4 LEDs on the board. So user could read the status of the drives from the vent hole of bracket.

    4. They will add as many holes as possible on the board to improve cooling.
     
    #18
  19. larryexchange

    larryexchange Active Member

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    The current design includes two holes on the board which could be used to install fan. That fan can cover all 4 controllers.
     
    #19
  20. larryexchange

    larryexchange Active Member

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    I just got the v2.
    IMG_1465 (Medium).JPG IMG_1466 (Medium).JPG IMG_1467 (Medium).JPG IMG_1469 (Medium).JPG IMG_1470 (Medium).JPG IMG_1471 (Medium).JPG
     
    #20
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