Asustor at Computex 2023 pointed us in the direction in which personal high-capacity storage, particularly NAS servers, are headed. The company unveiled its first pure-flash based NAS, and conventional HDD caddie-based NAS that have M.2 NVMe slots. The Flashstor 12 Pro (FS6712X) packs twelve M.2 NVMe slots, and is driven by a Celeron N5105 processor with 4 GB of DDR4-2933 memory on an SO-DIMM slot (which you can expand).
The M.2 slots support various NVMe RAID modes, including single, JBOD, RAID 0/1/5/6/10, etc. Besides these you get two 5 Gbps USB 3.2 ports. Networking interfaces include one 10 GbE. The company also unveiled a more compact version of this, with the Flashstor 6 (FS6706T), which comes with six M.2 NVMe slots, the same processor and NVMe RAID features, but two 2.5 GbE interfaces instead of the 10 GbE on the Flashstor 12 Pro.
This trend of providing numerous M.2 NVMe slots with NVMe RAID capability continues across all the HDD-based NAS we were shown, including with the 4-bay Nimbustor 4 Gen 2 (AS5404T), which also provides four M.2 slots, and two 2.5 GbE interfaces; the 2-bay Nimbustor 2 Gen 2, which has two HDD caddies, but a healthy four M.2 NVMe slots with NVMe RAID capabilities; and two 2.5 GbE interfaces.
M.2 drives are, understandably, not as hot-swappable as HDDs, and so while the HDDs get convenient caddies, installing the M.2 drives involves taking off the top panel to expose a PCB with the four M.2-2280 slots. These use a tool-free (screwless) retention mechanism for the drives. On our way out, we caught a handful personal wired networking products, including a 2.5 GbE unmanaged switch, and AS-U2.5G2, a USB NIC that puts out a 2.5 GbE port, with a 5 Gbps USB 3.2 Gen 1 type-C on the other end (a type-A adapter is included).
The extremely small footprint is very helpful when you have limited space.