Angelbird Wings storage solution offers SSD expansion via PCIe
By Paul Ridden
October 20, 2010
If parting with a whole suitcase full of cash for solid state drive storage doesn't really appeal then Angelbird's PCIe card solution might be worth a look. Designed to allow users to add storage modules as and when they can afford to, the Wings card comes with its own fairly small amount of SSD storage where the operating system can be placed for fast booting, plus four expansion slots where additional capacity can be added. Angelbird is producing its own expansion cartridges but will include clips and couplers so that users can slot in whatever SSD solution they want.
The Wings x4 PCIe card is based on a Marvell 88SX7042 chipset, which has been tweaked by Angelbird and renamed W1 (which also happens to be the area of London where the company's chairman Davide Rutigliano grew up). Each Wings card has either 16GB or 32GB of onboard (JMicron-based) SSD storage and four available slots for receiving expansion cartridges.
Rutigliano says that Wings is "the only x4 PCIe card on the market that allows you to congregate and boot on Mac and PC up to 2TB of ultra fast SSD." Using the ATTO benchmark tool, Angelbird recorded 285MB per second read and 275MB per second write with a single 120GB expansion cartridge hooked up to a 32GB Wings card. Connecting four 120GB cartridges increased that speed to 1081MB per second read and 945MB per second write.
"It is possible to link up to five fully populated Wings cards for a combined throughput of over 4GB per second read and write. For physical reasons, though, attaching regular cased SSD units the adjacent PCIe slot may be lost," Rutigliano told Gizmag.
While users could opt to purchase Crest SSD expansion cartridges direct from Angelbird – which come equipped with the acclaimed Sandforce SF1222 controller – it may be cheaper or more convenient to attach a third party drive. Angelbird says that "just about any 2.5-inch SSD on the market" can be connected up to the Wings card via supplied clips and couplers. Likewise, the Crest SSD cartridges can be transformed into regular 2.5-inch drives if desired.
Due for release in the first week of November, pricing starts at US$239 for the 16GB Wings card, more information is available from the product page of the company's website.
Wings will come pre-loaded with the company's own Unix-based operating system called Virtue OS, which presents a graphical environment for boot selection and tweaking options. Rutigliano said that it would also be possible "to rip an OSX DVD onto the internal Flash memory of the card, add drivers and RAID control panel, and boot its .iso, in order to be able to utilize Wings from the very first installation."