Although not the first to the punch it’s never too late for innovation as ASUS shows off its prototype GPU featuring extra storage options. ASUS General Manager Tony Yu debuted the Dual GeForce RTX 4060 Ti concept card in a new video that can be seen here. In it, we see that the backside of the card has a custom PCB which includes two M.2 2280 slots. One is on the front of the PCB while the other is on the backside. The backplate has been modified for easy access and airflow to the rear drive.
The reasoning behind adding storage to a graphics card like the RTX 4060 Ti is not to increase its memory but to take advantage of the unused PCIe lanes the card doesn’t utilize. Each M.2 slot supports PCIe 4.0 x4 whereas the GPU is using a PCIe x8 interface thus leaving 8 lanes unused.
Another advantage is that a mid-tier card such as this has low enough power requirements that it can still support the ~10W needed for these SSDs and still only have a single 8-pin connector. Now the elephant in the room becomes the issue of cooling. More than a few builders would be right to be concerned about the possibility of slapping M.2 drives onto an iGPU, something commonly thought of as heat-intensive as a risky venture. However, ASUS has purposely designed the heatsink and airflow for the card to accommodate the cooling needs of the drives and GPU. The heatsink actually makes direct contact with the drive on the top of the PCB via heat pads.
Speeds and temps
ASUS tested the concept card using a Samsung 980 Pro 2 TB SSD. It managed to reach 6.8 GB/s of its 6.9 GB/s speed and temps were at a comfortable 43 C during testing, ~10 C lower than when it had been installed on the motherboard which brings up another point. Currently, most users install their M.2 drives via the motherboard slots which are then obstructed by GPUs or CPU coolers. As ASUS shows off its prototype it can be seen that by having them on the card the user could potentially have easier access for upgrading them without removing as many components.