NetCard and M.2 SSD

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stephdroid
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NetCard and M.2 SSD

Post by stephdroid »

Hi,
I just got my H2 and was wandering if there is an adapter to connect the NetCard and an M.2 NVME SSD at the same time.
It Seams to be possible to use an M.2 ->PCIe --> Dual M2 Card.
Has anyone experiences with that setup or ideas to directly get M.2->Dual M.2 Ports

Thanks

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odroid
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Re: NetCard and M.2 SSD

Post by odroid »

If you use only two PCIe lanes for the NVMe SSD and only two 2.5GbE ports on the NetCard, your expectation might be feasible.
But, unfortunately, it is impossible because Genmini Lake SoC PCIe doesn't support 2x2 configuration.
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domih (Sun Mar 21, 2021 8:37 am)

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Re: NetCard and M.2 SSD

Post by jabbany »

Wouldn't that be a 1x2 + 2x1 configuration instead of 2x2?

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Re: NetCard and M.2 SSD

Post by odroid »

You are right. But it is still impossible.

BTW, do you have a link of the dual M.2 card which has two M.key slots?

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Re: NetCard and M.2 SSD

Post by domih »

odroid wrote:
Tue Mar 16, 2021 5:56 pm
You are right. But it is still impossible.

BTW, do you have a link of the dual M.2 card which has two M.key slots?
Yes, it is impossible.

Yet, to my surprise, there are cards that transform PCIe x4 to 1 x NVMe M-key + 1 x NVMe B-key for a SATA SSD, usual sub-brands like IOCrest, SYBA, RIITop, Vantec, etc probably all from the same factory. But that's it. In addition you would need the usual NVMe to PCIe x4 adapter in the first place. And it does not address the problem at hand anyway.

A solution would be NVMe (BIOS configured as x4) -> PCIe x4 cable adapter -> (imaginary/read impossible) PCIe Card with bifurcation chip transforming back to NVMe x2 and 2 x1 PCI lanes. I dig on the Internet for cards doing this: none, nada, niet. In addition, the final result would start to look like an esoteric Frankenstein 5-legged sheep hardware solution and quite costly :o I'm also pretty sure that performance-wise it would be kind of so so.

---

If the goal is to keep NVMe x4 performance + 2 x 2.5 GbE with a H2, the must simpler solution is to use two USB 3.0 2.5 GbE adapters as long as they are RTL8156B-based, e.g. https://www.ebay.com/itm/USB-3-0-Ethern ... 3057155924, RTL8156B appears in the description.

The USB 3.0 2.5 GbE adapters will provide a speed close to the expected 2.35Gbits/sec speed. See discussion there: viewtopic.php?f=172&t=38713

HTH

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Re: NetCard and M.2 SSD

Post by jabbany »

I mean one could get it done with a PCIe switch chip like an ASM1812/2812, but judging from the price of similar cards that convert PCIe into dual M.2 ports, the BOM cost would probably not be worth it (likely >100USD for a hypothetical "Net + SSD" card using a switch chip).

That said, I think there's huge potential useful applications opened up just by exposing the current 4 x1 bifurcated lanes used by the net card as 4 separate M.2 A/E keyed and/or M keyed (but with just 1 lane) ports. Something like a "Custom connectivity card".

Multiple A/E keyed could allow:
- Adding multiple (upgradeable) wifi cards, and using this as a powerful advanced wifi router (wifi 6 anyone? AX200s?) with the onboard LANs being used as dual 2.5G upstreams. Think a cheap native version of this: https://www.tindie.com/products/alftel/ ... dio-cards/ (cheap because no need to use any active components)
- Adding WWAN cards to enable a cellular (4G/5G) upstream to be shared down out the 2.5G LANs. Or as cellular backup for remote deployments, IoT gateways etc.
- Adding LAN ports (Basically remaking the net card) but with custom adapters like this https://diarts-tech.com/product/1-port- ... ntel-i225/ or http://www.lr-link.com/products/LRES2210PT.html. This way someone can say use their own Intel NICs if they don't like the Realtek ones.

Making a couple or all of those as M-keyed connectors could allow:
- Adding extra NVMe SSD capacity (they'll run at basically SATA speeds but can be self-contained without needing SATA power) via small 2230 SSDs (Basically this https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AoNxDe1a-X8 but without the need for those adapters)
- Adapting to A/E key devices. There's a lot of cheap 3rd party M-key to A/E key adapters, but few that go the other way around. So making the board be a bunch of M-keyed connectors could also be a way to open up application flexibility.

I'd personally buy a hypothetical "Custom Connectivity Card" that just exposed say 2 A/E keyed ports and 2 M-keyed ports running at x1. Throw in a WLAN/BT card, WWAN card, a couple of SSDs and you get a beast of gateway that has cellular uplink with redundant storage. ;)
The possibilities are endless!

The H2+ is in a very unique position in the market right now, because AFAIK it's the only barebones board that has official support for bifurcating on the M.2 connector and I've yet to see any of the maker-oriented boards target the entry wireless networking/monitoring appliance area by adding a ton of connectivity.

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Re: NetCard and M.2 SSD

Post by mad_ady »

Whatever way you do it, having room on the board to connect 4 other boards that could have various sizes will be a challenge. Having a wide "backplane" card with perpendicular connectors could be the only versatile option... But you lose the small form factor...

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Re: NetCard and M.2 SSD

Post by jabbany »

I mean they'd be pretty standard sized right? E keyed slots are usually 2230 and M keyed ones can also be made to just support 2230 or at most 2242 (both with plenty of choices) to make it still compact.
Basically something like the Alftel example but with just 4 powered by native lanes instead of like 12 behind a PCIe switch

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