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ASRock Ultra Quad M.2 Card 16-lane AIC Review

ASRock Ultra Quad M.2 Card 16-lane AIC Review
ASRock's Ultra Quad M.2 Card makes Intel VROC and AMD RAIDXpert direct to CPU RAID arrays simple and powerful. Yes, they are bootable.
By: Jon Coulter | SSDs in Storage | Posted: Mar 7, 2018 12:00 pm
TweakTown Rating: 96%Manufacturer: ASRock

Introduction

 

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You've all heard about it. Direct to CPU RAID that is bootable. Direct to CPU RAID can deliver the full throughput potential of your storage array because it is not done through the limited bandwidth of your motherboard's chipset like we've seen to this point. Direct to CPU RAID uses a 16-lane PCIe slot that is routed directly to your CPU. Same slot as a x16 graphics card uses. There is a caveat to this though. Both Intel and AMD platforms must be capable of bifurcating 16 lanes into four separate 4-lane channels. This currently limits the use of Direct to CPU RAID for the consumer to Intel X299 and AMD X399 platforms. Not all X299 and X399 motherboards can bifurcate a 16x PCIe slot so you need to verify before proceeding. Additionally, you can use more than one Direct to CPU Quad Card if you wish to RAID more than one Quad Card into a single RAID volume. RAIDing Quad Cards is of course dependent on your motherboards capability to bifurcate more than one 16x PCIe slot.

 

 

ASRock's Quad Card is the newest Direct to CPU AIC (Add-In-Card) card on the market. It is heavily refined and sports unique angled M.2 Gen3x4 slots. Angling the M.2 slots is advantageous because the angle keeps the slot traces as close to the card's 16x edge connector as possible which should, in theory, reduce communication latency. Another unique feature of ASRock's Quad Card is that it has a built-in 6-pin 12V PCIe power connector for SSD arrays that demand more power than the 25 Watts that is native to a 16x PCIe slot. Most of the time you will not need the additional power, but if you are using U.2 SSDs with M.2 adapters, then you will defiantly need the extra power. ASRock feels their Direct to CPU Quad Card is a superior product for the following reasons:

 

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Okay, we're convinced that ASRock's Quad Card is leading-edge technology and probably the best design on the market right now. For our testing, we chose to use four Intel 760p 512GB SSDs. We chose the 760p because using Intel SSDs means you won't need a VROC key to create a RAID 0 array on X299, and because the 760p is VROC compatible. Intel's 760p isn't the fastest SSD we could have chosen, but it does have excellent sequential read performance. Read our Intel 760p 512GB M.2 NVMe Review HERE.

 

Now if you are using the ASRock Quad Card with AMD X399, your choice of M.2 NVMe SSD doesn't matter because a key is not required for any type of RAIDXpert array. Let's get into the review. In the first section of our review we will be presenting Intel VROC performance results using Intel's X299 platform with ASRock's Quad Card. In the second section of our review, we will be presenting AMD RAIDXpert performance results using AMD's X399 platform with ASRock's Quad Card. We will show you step-by-step how to setup bootable and secondary arrays on both platforms and benchmarks for both system disk and secondary volumes.

 

MSRP ASRock Ultra Quad M.2 Card: $79.99. Availability: Early 2018

    PRICING: You can find the product discussed for sale below. The prices listed are valid at the time of writing, but can change at any time. Click the link below to see real-time pricing for the best deal:

     

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