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In brief: I've always had a knack for excessively fast storage systems, and Apex Storage's new X21 has certainly caught my attention. The Apex Storage X21 is a dual-board add-in card that can accommodate a whopping 21 PCIe 4.0 M.2 SSDs. And no, that wasn't a typo.
According to Apex's website, all major brands of M.2 NMVe SSDs are supported including QLC, TLC, MLC and Intel Optane drives. RAID deployments in Windows and Linux are also supported, the company notes.
What sort of options are you looking at when it comes to configuration? I suppose that depends on what you are aiming to accomplish with your build.
According to Apex's website, you would be looking at 168TB of storage when populating each slot with an 8TB SSD. Future 16TB drives could push capacity up to 336TB. Optionally, you could load it up with lower-capacity cards with a focus on speed.
Apex says that with a single card, you can expect sequential read speeds of up to 30.5GB/s and sequential writes of 26.5GB/s. Add in the second card and max speeds jump to 107GB/s on the sequential read side and 70GB/s for sequential writes.
Do you need this? Almost certainly not. Plus, it would cost a small fortune to fully configure it. Even with the low cost of flash memory today, it would still cost over $5,000 to fill it with Samsung 990 Pro 2TB drives - and that does not even include the cost of the add-in card itself. Trade out the Samsung 990 Pros for Sabrent's 8TB Rocket 4 Plus NVMe SSDs, currently going for $1,099.99 each on Amazon, and your SSD bill skyrockets to over $23,000.
The card does come backed by a lifetime warranty. Unfortunately, Apex has not said when the X21 will launch or how much it will sell for. It is also a bummer that it does not support PCIe 5.0 drives but then again, trying to keep 21 of those cool would be a serious challenge.