SupTronics' Latest NVMe Board Connects a Whopping Four Drives to a Single Raspberry Pi 5

If you're looking to build a thin four-drive NAS, this new Raspberry Pi 5 add-on will tick a lot of boxes.

Gareth Halfacree
1 month agoHW101

Anyone thinking of building a four-drive network attached storage (NAS) appliance in the smallest volume possible may want to take a look at the latest Raspberry Pi 5 add-on from SupTronics Technologies — which connects a single board to no fewer than four Non-Volatile Memory Express (NVMe) drives.

"The X1011 four M.2 NVMe SSD shield [is] designed to provide a mass-capacity storage and high-speed storage solution for your Raspberry Pi 5," SupTronics explains of its latest board design. "Its sleek and compact design enables easy attachment of four full-size M.2 2280 SSDs to your Raspberry Pi 5. With its PCIe 2.0 interface, you can experience data transfer rates of up to 5Gbps, allowing you to effortlessly transfer large amounts of data within seconds."

The X1011 joins SupTronics' earlier X1000-series boards in making use of the PCI Express lane available on a flat flexible circuit (FFC) connector on the Raspberry Pi 5 to add high-speed storage to the single-board computer — but where the company's closest previous offering, the X1004, supported two drives the new X1011 supports four which can be combined to deliver a whopping 16TB of storage.

There are a couple of caveats to that, though. The first is that four NVMe drives are larger than a Raspberry Pi 5, so the X1011 roughly doubles the footprint. The second is that while it connects the four drives for simultaneous use, they're sharing the single PCIe lane's bandwidth and can only operate in PCI Express Gen. 2 mode rather than the faster Gen. 3 — and it's not possible to use any of the four drives as a boot device.

There are also a few gotchas in the design of the board, which sits underneath the Raspberry Pi 5 rather than on top as with a traditional HAT, as noted in Jeff Geerling's hands-on review — including the use of pogo-pins for power connection, which could prove unreliable over time or when exposed to vibration or shock.

Full details on the new board are available on the SupTronics website, though the company doesn't sell direct to consumers; Geekworm is the first to offer the board for sale in single-unit quantities at $51, a launch offer discount from a planned $55 retail price.

Gareth Halfacree
Freelance journalist, technical author, hacker, tinkerer, erstwhile sysadmin. For hire: freelance@halfacree.co.uk.
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