We've come to expect some real mighty storage hogs (opens in new tab) gobbling up gigabytes over the years, but maybe there's an answer. No it's not game developers making their games any smaller, don't be silly. It's loading up 21 M.2 SSDs across a single add-in card, such as this Apex Storage X21.
This enormous add-in card houses up to 168TB of speedy storage (via Tom's Hardware (opens in new tab)). By my very complex calculations, that's enough space to install Microsoft Flight Simulator 1,400 times, but it would require 21 8TB SSDs. If you're using Sabrent's Rocket 4 Plus 8TB drives, that will set you back around $21,000—maybe you can get a bulk discount or something? That's without the price of the Apex Storage X21, which isn't listed on Apex Storage's site (opens in new tab).
All the speeds and feeds are, though. The Apex Storage X21 offers up to 30.5GB/s sequential read speeds and 26.5GB/s sequential write speeds. In terms of IOPS, that's 7.5M read and 6.2M write. That's certainly quick enough for most of our humble gaming needs, but clearly this is kit intended for more data centre-focused deployments.
Still, there's no one to tell you that you can't plug one of these babies into your gaming PC. You wouldn't need to load it up with the most expensive, $1,100 a pop 8TB drives. Some of the best SSDs for gaming (opens in new tab) are 1/10th of that price for a quarter of the capacity.
The add-in card will work just fine with Windows 10/11 and Linux, too, and takes up just one PCIe 4.0 x16 slot in your machine. Cooling might be a factor to consider, though. There's a heatsink to keep the onboard processing cool, which in turn keeps the load entirely on the card and off your CPU, but none of the drives are independently cooled. Some do appear to be sandwiched close together, as this add-in card has four different planes loaded up with SSDs to hit that 21 drive total.
So add a heap of fans to your shopping list, too. All together this is one expensive upgrade, but, hey, if PC gaming isn't overkill, what is?
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