ASRock Rack M2_VGA: 80 mm short mini graphics card in M.2 format

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ASRock’s server division ASRock Rack presented the M.2 card M2_VGA. This is not a compact SSD, but a graphics card in the 80 mm short M2280 format. It works in slots that are connected via PCI Express and uses a lane for data transmission.

ASRock Racks M2_VGA uses the old Siliconmotion graphics chip SM750 from the Lynx family, which outputs a 2D image with full HD resolution (1920 × 1080 pixels) via VGA (D-Sub). The GPU has 16 MB graphics memory available. Power is supplied via the M.2 slot or a Molex connection. With a power consumption of 1.5 watts, no active cooling is necessary – PCIe SSDs produce more waste heat.

The M2_VGA is 80 mm short and therefore fits in most M.2 slots.

(Image: ASRock Rack)

Additional cards like the M2_VGA are primarily intended for servers as an alternative to 2D GPUs like the Aspeed AST2500. They also allow gadgets such as a DeskMini-X300 mini PC with a 16-core processor (Ryzen 9 5950X or Ryzen 9 3950X) as a particularly small CPU workstation. The case has no space for a full-fledged graphics card – the PC actually relies on a combination processor with an integrated graphics unit. Thanks to the punching out for a D-Sub connection on the back, the M2_VGA can even be operated without the included slot cover.

Siliconmotion and Microsoft offer drivers for the SM750 graphics chip under the outdated Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 operating systems. Alternatively there is an updated Linux driver.

Meanwhile, other manufacturers also offer expansion cards that rely on the versatile PCIe lanes of M.2 connections. Innodisk, for example, sells the EGPV-1101-C1 with SM768-GPU, which outputs an Ultra HD image with 3840 × 2160 pixels via HDMI 1.4 – available in Germany for 80 euros. The Mustang-M2BM-MX2 executes neural networks with Intel’s “Vision Processing Unit” Movidius Myriad X MA2485, Exsys’ EX-48275 provides an internal USB connection with 10 GBit / s for housing (USB 3.2 Gen 2).


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