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Factors to identify when choosing a PCIe AIC Drive for Dell/HP servers

Updated: 5 days ago


Choosing the right PCIe Expansion Storage Drive for your PC Platform and Application

Determining which PCIe expansion drive is right for your application starts with identifying the ins and outs of your system; what kind of PCIe expansion ports does the system provide? Does it require the use of riser cards or backplane accessories? Which OS or OS’s do you require support for? What are the capacity requirements and performance target?

If you are working with a factory-built Dell or HP computing system, we’ve got you covered. HighPoint has published a series of Compatibility and Integration reports for Dell and HP’s most popular Server and Workstation platforms.

Using a system from another manufacturer, or a custom-built platform? No worries. HighPoint RocketAIC drives, like our SSD series NVMe AIC adapters, are fully compliant with all industry standard x86 Intel/AMD computing platforms. RocketAIC drives can be easily installed into nearly modern system or motherboard with a free PCIe 3.0/4.0/5.0 x16 slot. The following guidelines can help you narrow down your selection:


Form Factor & Slot Type:

The type of PCIe card supported by your platform’s PCIe slots or Riser card is arguably the most important factor. This ultimately determines what kind of PCIe expansion drive you can integrate into your workflow. You must identify the following:


Mechanical Lanes: This refers to the number of lanes, represent as “x#”, the slot can physically support.

1. x1 – the smallest slot type. Few modern PCIe devices utilize this type of slot, and it is becoming less common.

2. x4 – This type of slot is utilized by many types of general-use add-in-cards, such as USB adapter cards, single-drive M.2 NVMe solution, and entry-level networking adapters.

3. x8 – Arguably the most common slot type. Many network devices, SAS/SATA controller cards, media capture cards, entry-level GPUs, and compact form-factor AIC drives utilize this slot length. HighPoint RocketAIC 6200 and 7200 series dries require a slot capable of supporting x8 mechanical lanes.

4. x16 – The largest slot type. x16 slots are required by most GPUs, and most RocketAIC drives.


Note 1: Some PCIe slots may be “notched” or “slotted” to accept larger PCI devices. For example, a notched x4 slot can accept x8 or x16 PCIe devices.

Note 2: A slot can only provide a number of electrical lanes less than or equal to it mechanical lanes. For example, a PCIe x4 mechanical slot can provide either x1 or x4 electrical lanes, but never x8 or x16 electrical lanes. On the other hand, an x16 mechanical slot may provide any number of electrical lanes (x1, x4, x8 or x16). Read on for more information.


Electrical Lanes: AKA bandwidth. This refers the PCIe host bandwidth provided by the slot. Be warned; as mentioned previously, a slot’s electrical rating may not correspond with its mechanical requirements. Please note, the MB/s and GB/s cited below are theoretical maximums. PCIe devices will be unable to deliver this number in a real-world scenario. In general, your best x16 Gen3 device is able to deliver 14GB/s (14,000MB/s) of transfer performance, while an ideal x16 Gen4 device can deliver 27-28GB/s (27-28,000MB/s) of transfer performance.

1. x1 – The most basic level of bandwidth. This type of slot can provide approximately 1GB/s for PCIe Gen3 and 2GB/s for Gen4. As such, x1 electrical slots are not recommended for RocketAIC drives, as they will severely bottleneck performance.

2. x4 – This rating provides up to 4GB/s for PCIe Gen3, and 8GB/s for Gen4. Better than x1, but still only suitable for single NVMe SSD.

3. x8- This rating provides up to 8GB/s for PCIe Gen3, and 16GB/s for Gen4. In most cases, this ideal for our compact bootable drives (RocketAIC 7502x, 6202x, 6202x, 720x), and our cost-effective RocketAIC 7204x series drives.

4. x16 – This is the ideal electrical rating. This provides maximum bandwidth; up to 16GB/s for PCIe Gen3, and 32GB/s for PCIe Gen4.


Capacity Requirements:

Identify the storage capacity requirement of your application. RocketAIC drives are available in a wide range of storage capacities, from our bootable 2TB RocketAIC 7502x/7202/6202x drives to our Enterprise-grade RocketAIC 7749x series solutions, which provide an astounding 61TB of storage capacity!

Model

PCIe Interface

Max Capacity

RA7749EW

PCIe 4.0 x16

61TB

RA7540HW

PCIe 4.0 x16

16TB

​RA7140AW

PCIe 3.0 x16

16TB

RA7505HW

PCIe 4.0 x16

8TB

​RA6204AW

PCIe 3.0 x8

8TB

RA7502HW

PCIe 4.0 x16

4TB

RA7105HW

PCIe 3.0 x16

4TB

RA6202AW

PCIe 3.0 x8

4TB

Performance Requirement:

While all NVMe storage is fast, you will want to select a solution that take full advantage of your chosen platform. Identifying your platform’s PCIe host connectivity is a must. Setting a specific performance target, in either MB/s or GB/s, can help refine your selection.

Our Gen4 AIC drives (RocketAIC 7749x, 7540x, 7505x and 7502x) can deliver up to 28,000MB/s of performance when installed into a PCIe 4.0/5.0 slot with x16 lanes of host bandwidth. Our Gen 3 drives (RocketAIC 7140Ax, 7105x, and 62xx) can deliver up to 14,000MB/s when installed into a PCIe 3.0/4.0/5.0 slot with x16 lanes of host bandwidth.


Workflow & Endurance Considerations

If your application is focused on a particular task or workflow for a PC-based server or workstation, such as video/audio editing platform, we would recommend considering our Ultra-Speed series of drives. These drives are equipped with Samsung’s class-leading 980 PRO series M.2 NVMe SSDs, and are available with up to 16TB of storage capacity.

Customers that are looking for high-density storage solution capable of sustaining an around-the-clock working schedule should consider our Ultra-Dense RocketAIC 7749EW series drives, which are equipped with Solidigm’s Datacenter Class D7-P5520 Series E1.S SSDs.


Learn More

RocketAIC for Dell & HP Platforms

Bootable RocketAICs for Dell & HP Platforms

Dell Compatibility List

HP Compatibility List

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