Originally Posted by Dyson Poindexter
Originally Posted by hartofwave
Would love to see tablets and 10-14" laptops with a bunch of little slots for m.2 drives but if they exist I've never seen them
Yeah, like 4 PCIe-based m.2 slots so you can mix and match drives and other things like wifi cards or mobile broadband.
Most likely not going to happen at least with current products.
Maximum number of PCIe x4 storage devices according to the Skylake PCH is 3 (only a handful of devices have two M.2 PCIe x4 storage bays). There are 26 total HSIO lanes, 20 of which are PCIe and only 16 can be active at the same time. The remaining 6 are for USB 3 only which are probably not multiplexed with the PCIe lanes. Gigabit Ethernet and SATA take up certain PCIe ports. They're also multiplexed with the USB 3.0 and SATA ports so I believe that also counts towards that limit.
Datasheet here (page 28): https://www-ssl.intel.com/content/www/us/en/chipsets/100-series-chipset-datasheet-vol-1.html
You might argue that this is strictly for desktop chipsets only. The ark.intel.com page for the HM170 links this as the datasheet so it should apply to mobile variants as well.
Anandtech also has a great breakdown: http://www.anandtech.com/show/9485/intel-skylake-z170-motherboards-asrock-asus-gigabyte-msi-ecs-evga-supermicro
Alright so we're dropping all SATA ports in favor of M.2 PCIe-based storage so no penalties for SATA. Most laptops won't have anymore than 6 USB 3.0 ports.
So lets assume a laptop with two M.2 PCIe x4 bays available. That takes up space for 8 lanes of the 16 usable for PCIe and the remaining 8 go either to a discrete GPU (x8 mode most likely) or a wireless card and say a thunderbolt controller (two x4 devices). Three PCIe x4 M.2 storage bays would limit you to 4 more lanes configurable in 1x4 or 2x2 (or 1x2 + 2x1) which will be taken up by the wireless card for at least one lane.
For the entire consumer market there's really no reason to put two M.2 PCIe x4 SSDs into RAID because the performance difference won't be very noticeable for the majority of tasks. Maybe for some professional level work like video editing and or rendering you'll see benefits but for most other things, probably not.
This is why most laptop manufacturers only use one of the 3 available PCIe Storage Device groups Intel gives w/ Skylake. They're better off using the remaining 8 lanes (assuming 4 are taken up by a wireless card or something and the 4 by the PCIe SSD) for a discrete GPU or, especially the case now that eGPUs are on the rise, Thunderbolt 3 controllers (which take up 4 lanes each).
But if you really want a device that has more than 1xM.2 PCIe x4 slot the only few devices that come to mind are I think the Aorus X5S V5 (15") does have the maximum 3 PCIe storage slots (M.2 PCIe 3.0 x4). This one is most likely not going to operate very well IMO. According to their spec page, two of the 3 slots are PCIe x4 while one is PCIe x2. That gives you 10 lanes being taken up for PCIe based storage. 1 extra lane is taken up by the wi-fi card and 1 more for the multiplexed SATA 3 connection. That means 12/16 usable PCIe lanes are taken and leaves 4 for the GTX980M.
The Aorus X3 Plus V5 (14") comes with two.
Some of Gigabyte's laptops like the P37X v5 come with two. The VAIO Z Canvas also comes with two.
Anyways 2-3 at max (3 is max), 4 is out of the question.
Edited by HybridCore - 8/4/16 at 5:53pm