Sonnet Technologies, a California-based connectivity focused company, looks to be about ready to bring its McFiver PCIe add-in card to market. Spotted by PC Watch, the expansion card makes use a motherboard PCIe x16 shlot (though actual bandwidth tops out at PCIe 3.0 x8), increasing connectivity and storage expansion options by adding two M.2 NVMe slots, two USB 3.2 (10Gbps) Type-C ports and a single 10 Gigabit Ethernet port.
This is an interesting mix of ports that seemingly aims to cater to the enthusiast and content-creator crowds. While we've seen other PCIe expansion cards in the past, these have mostly settled for either storage, networking, or USB connectivity. The McFiver board from Sonnet, however, extends its usability through all three mediums. We could see this add-in board being particularly useful for creators, doubling down not only on fast, responsive storage -- with integrated, fined heatsinks to keep the SSD's temperatures in check -- but also by bolstering the number of USB Type-C ports, since all but the highest-tier motherboards today tend to have just one or possibly two.
Sonnet's McFiver add-in board is compatible with Windows, Linux, and MacOS, including support for Apple Silicon. It supports RAID 0 on both its M.2 slots to nearly double SSD speeds up to 6,600 MB/s (a maximum throughput of 3,400 MB/s is quoted for non-RAID SSD operations). Each M.2 slot supports an M.2 2280 SSD with up to 8 TB density (16 TB possible in total).
The board has been made as "drop-in" an upgrade as possible, and only pulls power from the PCIe slot itself (which is capable of delivering up to 75 W). Perhaps due to this, Sonnet did limit the USB 3.2 ports with only 7.5 W (5V @ 1.5A) of possible power delivery. So take that into account when considering this expansion card. Further, these USB-C ports don't support Thunderbolt.
The Sonnet McFiver's jack-of-all-trades design philosophy does mean there's added board and controller complexity, however: Besides using an as-yet unknown PCIe 3.0 x8 bridge, the expansion card integrates a 10GbE controller from Marvell (AQC113S) and a USB-C 3.2 controller from an undisclosed manufacturer.
While it won't please everyone, the Sonnet McFiver certainly brings a diverse and interesting set of features for a single expansion card. For those who need fast wired networking, more USB-C and M.2 storage, the $399 price may be quite appealing.