Apex Storage launched the X21 M.2 expansion card

M.2 slots are almost standard for newly released motherboards, but for some “hamster” type users, the number of M.2 slots equipped on the motherboard may not be enough. There are many PCIe to M.2 slot adapters available on the market. Recently, Apex Storage launched the X21 M.2 expansion card, which can accommodate up to 21 M.2 solid-state drives.

The X21 M.2 expansion card is a dual-slot full-height specification that supports the NVMe 2.0 protocol and can provide 100 PCIe 4.0 channels. It uses a daughter card and a mother card design, with the PLX chip located on the mother card, covered by a metal heat sink. The specific model is unknown, but it can accommodate up to 9 PCIe 4.0 x4 M.2 solid state drives; the daughter card can accommodate up to 12 PCIe 4.0 x4 M.2 solid state drives, and the mother-daughter card can simultaneously install up to 21 M.2 solid state drives. The expansion card requires additional airflow for cooling and the manufacturer claims it needs at least 400 LFM (Line Feet Minute, a unit of wind speed) to meet the cooling requirements. In terms of power supply, the expansion card uses dual 6-pin power supplies, with one 6-pin power supply interface for the daughter card and one for the mother card.

The X21 M.2 expansion card uses a PCIe 4.0 x16 interface and supports a maximum capacity of 336TB (with a single hard drive capacity not exceeding 16TB). The maximum continuous read speed is 30.5GB/s, and the maximum continuous write speed is 26.5GB/s. The random read speed is 7.5M IOPS, and the random write speed is 6.2M IOPS. The expansion card supports multi-card interconnection, and the read/write rate will be significantly improved after the combination. The expansion card supports UEFI boot, provides enterprise-level reliability, and supports Windows, Windows Server, and Linux systems.

The X21 M.2 expansion card does perform well in terms of the number of supported hard drives. However, currently, high-end platforms from AMD and Intel already offer support for PCIe 5.0 x16 slots. If the expansion card can further increase the interface rate, its attractiveness to users will undoubtedly be greater.