U.2 to quad M.2 carrier (2.5 inch form factor)?

Ouroboros

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Jul 26, 2012
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While oogling assorted NVMe gear, I ran across a bit of an oddball device. U.2 2.5" form factor device that hosts a PCIe switch and 4 M.2 22110 drives. An interesting potential alternative to an Amfeltec Squid.

Viking Enterprise Solutions
U20040
U.2 NVMe SSD M.2 Carrier High Performance Solid State NVMe Storage Drive
https://www.vikingenterprisesolutions.com/products/ssd-platforms-overview/u20040/

Naturally they want you to populate it with "certified" (read Viking brand) NVMe drives.

I kinda doubt Viking will sell these empty... so, does anybody else sell a U.2 bodied carrier like this?
 

IamSpartacus

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Mar 14, 2016
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Massive density with 4 QLC drives that can't saturate a 4x connection anyway?
Or PCIe x4 host with a switch chip giving each a PCIe 3.0 2x lane ?
He mentioned NVMe drives so wouldn't make sense to use them if you're just going to limit each drive to x1 speed. As for the PCIe x4 host, yes that I can see being a potential use case.
 

Ouroboros

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Jul 26, 2012
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He mentioned NVMe drives so wouldn't make sense to use them if you're just going to limit each drive to x1 speed. As for the PCIe x4 host, yes that I can see being a potential use case.
It really hard to see the image, but the PCIe switch layout for the carrier is upstream x4 (x2 dual port when using their custom driver apparently), and x4 or x2 to each M.2 drive, so basically the same in concept to the older Amfeltec Squid with the short slot adapter (x4 uplink, x4 to each of 4 M.2 drives).

You're quite correct that sequential IO will bottleneck at the PCIe switch, but depending on how you populate the carrier, random might not bottleneck. If this carrier was being sold empty, it's would be handy for adding M.2 drives ad hoc to a system. A simple example would be using one of those M.2 to U.2 cables Intel sells to stretch a direct motherboard M.2 slot for fan out. For systems that already have U.2 hot-swap trays, this is a way of expanding the number of devices seen under the CPU (for situations where you need device count and not just raw capacity, such as ZFS VDEV's or Intel VROC)(though notably, a U.2 hot swap tray is likely backed with a backplane already using a PCIe switch, so this carrier would add a second switch layer, which seems to be the practical limit for some OS)

The somewhat skeezy DIY setup is using one of the new Amfeltec hexa M.2 PCIe cards paired with those M.2/U.2 cables and this carrier. You could potentially get 24 M.2 devices hanging of a single true x8 host uplink PCIe slot (though the hexa card also comes in x16 uplink flavor) while keeping things to only 2 layers of PLX switches.
 

Deslok

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Jul 15, 2015
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Kingston briefly was touting their DCU1000, which looks suspiciously similar, prior to it disappearing from their product lineup...

The Anandtech article shows the PCB which might provide clues as to the source OEM...

Kingston at CES 2018: A 6.4 TB U.2 Enterprise SSD with Four M.2 Behind a PEX Chip

But, it looks like these 2.5 inch carriers are capped at 2280 M.2 drives due to length limitations
Kingston didn't really build theres it was from a partnership with liquid, they had a hhhl card liquid built as well although that hit retail
Liqid Inc. — The Leaders in Composable Infrastructure
https://www.kingston.com/datasheets/DCP1000_us.pdf
I work with kingston PR on occasion and they won't acknowledge it's existence anymore I think the partnership fell apart.
 

Ouroboros

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Kingston didn't really build theres it was from a partnership with liquid, they had a hhhl card liquid built as well although that hit retail
Liqid Inc. — The Leaders in Composable Infrastructure
https://www.kingston.com/datasheets/DCP1000_us.pdf
I work with kingston PR on occasion and they won't acknowledge it's existence anymore I think the partnership fell apart.
Bingo, there's a Liquid product called the
Element LQD3250 PCIe U.2 SSD
Liqid Inc. — The Leaders in Composable Infrastructure

The hardware looks exactly the same as the DCU1000, including the USB monitoring port and the shell, just the label logo badge is different. They describe it as 8TB U.2, which would occur if you loaded 4x2TB M.2 SSD's into it.

So the questions remains, is Liqid the original OEM, or Viking, or some other OEM further down the food chain? The Kingston DCU1000 interior shots of the PCB shot the Liqid logo silkscreened on, but there may be a clue as to the OEM in the code at the bottom edge of the following picture

https://www.techpowerup.com/live/images/CES_2018/kingston_020.jpg

The code seems to read TTM 1SAM62-0 94V-0 0217 -9
0217 suggests the revision date being February 2017
The TTM is stylized, suggesting the maker (of the PCB at least).

TTM Technologies, Inc.

Which seems to have a matching logo, but these guys seem to be your basic contract electronics manufacturer/ PCB maker, and not a designer. So I guess Liqid is the likely OEM
 
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Deslok

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Yeah from what I could tell liquid was the ODM when kingston was selling their card. You see it with other vendors that don't do their own in house drives as well like OWC using third parties for some models(and pretending they don't neither side can admit to it because of "reasons" even though I work with both)