Mini review of ORICO “USB 4.0” M.2 NVMe SSD enclosure

ORICO has sent me a sample of a USB 4.0 M.2 NVMe SSD enclosure for review, which was timely as I did not have a fast USB storage option for testing. In this post, I’ll check out the hardware, show how to install an NVMe SSD, and test performance in UP Xtreme i11 mini PC since it happens to come with a USB4 port.

ORICO USB 4.0 M.2 SSD enclosure specs and unboxing

The exact model I received is the ORICO M234C3-U4 with a Rose Gold aluminum enclosure (107x50x17mm), supporting M.2 M-Key and B+M Key 2230, 2242, 2260, 2280 SSDs (more on that later), and offering up to 40 Gbps through its USB 4.0 port.

The device ships with a USB Type-C to USB Type-C/Type-A cable, a thermal pad, a heatsink, two screws, and a multilingual user manual.

There’s only one USB Type-C port one the device.

M.2 NVMe SSD installation

I’ll be using a 256GB Apacer M.2 2280 PCIe Gen3 x4 SSD (AS2280P4) that suppose to support 1,800 MB/s read speeds and 1,100 MB/s write speed. 1,800MB/s correspond to about 14.4 Gbps that not quite close to 40 Gbps, but still higher than the 10Gbps for USB 3.1 Gen 2 ports, so we’ll see if we can reach anything close to those speeds.

My SSD comes with a sticker, and I suppose it should be better to remove it before installing the thermal pad for even better cooling. The only problem is that it serves as a warranty sticker too (See “Warranty void is label removed” at the bottom left corner). So I’ve kept it. Just remember to remove the plastic films before putting the thermal pad on the SSD.

The next step is to clip the heatsink on top of the thermal pad.

We know need to open the enclosure secured with a single screw.

While the specifications mention support for M.2 2230, 2242, 2260, and 2280 SSDs, there are no mounting holes for the smaller size, so getting an M.2 2280 NVMe SSD is the only practical choice.

We can now insert the SSD in the enclosure, secure it with one of the provided crews, before putting the cover back in place.

 ORICO USB 4.0 M.2 SSD enclosure in Ubuntu 20.04

Here’s the USB 4.0 enclosure connected to the USB 4.0 Type-C port of UP Xtreme i11 mini PC running Ubuntu 20.04. The metal enclosure is quite hot to the touch even at idle, but that’s a good sign meaning it’s cooling the SSD.

There’s a fairly long output in the kernel log once I insert the device, but it ends with:


There are two new USB hubs (Bus 0006 and 005) and an Intel USB4.0 SSD which looks good, but those are USB 3.0 and USB 2.0 root hubs.


and indeed when I look at the data with lsusb, there’s no USB 4.0 port, nor anything at 40000M:


That’s odd. So we probably need to check with thunderbolt/usb4.0 specific tools:


Now I can get more information:


But that does not show anything about speed, just that a Thunderbolt device is detected. (Check out the comments section for more information about that). The SSD drive is also properly detected:


… although not mounted, so I used pmount after modifying /etc/pmount.allow file to resolve the error “device /dev/nvme0n1 is not removable”.

Let’s see what kind of performance we have with iozone:


I repeated the benchmark three times with about the same results each time. All results, namely sequential write/read and random read/write, are about in the same range of about 1100 MB/s which may indicate some issue. That number is also close to 10 Gbps, so we may indeed have a USB connection limited to 10 Gbps as reported by lsusb -t command.

For comparison, I’ve also run the fio command used by Hardkernel to test ODROID-M1‘s NVME SSD performance:


1,263MB/s is about 12% higher than the 1,128MB/s read speed found with iozone, but still far from the 1800MB/s advertised for the SSD, and 1,263 MB/s happens to be 10104 Mbps.

It looks like UP Xtreme i11 may be the bottleneck here as the usb4.0 port is advertised as having “usb3.10” capabilities with a maximum speed of 10000Mbit/s:


If I understand that correctly that’s normal we are limited to 10 Gbps speed. I’ll double-check with AAEON to make sure.

[Update: AAEON has purchased a similar ORICO M.2 SSD Thunderbolt enclosure (ORICO-M2V02-C4) and tested it on their side with UP Xtreme i11 and a Samsung MZ-V8V500 SSD with the iozone utility.

That’s a sequential/random write speed of up to 1700MB/s (13.6Gbps), and a sequential/random read speed of up to 2600MB/s (20.8Gbps), so both data transfer rates are over 10Gbps showcasing that the USB4 port can offer up to 20Gbps transfer speeds, double what USB 3.1 Gen2 can do.

]

A closer look at the board’s components

When I installed the SSD, I did not do a full teardown. So let’s do that now to find more details about the hardware.

We have a chip market “Intel X212TC27 JHL7440” that’s an Intel JHL744 Thunderbolt 3 controller that should be capable of 40 Gbps speed and a JMS583 chip that sounds familiar as the “USB 3.1 Gen 2 to PCIe NVMe Gen3 x2” has been found in several products covered in CNX Software over the years… I initially found it quite odd to have a 10 Gbps chip in a 40 Gbps device, but that’s for backward compatibility, and if I connect the driver to the USB 3.0 port from my laptop, the JMS583 chip is used instead (See comments for details).

The “USB 4.0” 40Gbps model reviewed here costs $169.99 on Amazon, while the price for the 20Gbps model drops to $54.99, and the 10 Gbps model sells for just $29.99. So if you purchase this item on Amazon, double-check your USB 4.0 / Thunderbolt port does indeed support 40 Gbps, as well as your drive speed in order to avoid overpaying. [Update: an industry insider working on USB4 has confirmed this enclosure has nothing to do with USB4, and it’s just an enclosure combining Thunderbolt 3 with a fallback to USB 3.2 Gen 1]

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28 Replies to “Mini review of ORICO “USB 4.0” M.2 NVMe SSD enclosure”

  1. Could you please check to see if this SSD enclosure support fstrim in ubuntu? Otherwise it would be pretty useless in the long (and not so long?!) run. THANKS!

    1. I can run the following command without errors:

      1. Thanks! I assume it also supports SMART? (forgot to ask)

        Somewhat related suggestio/plead: It would be huge public service if could you do a review of popular and/or budget-oriented external ssd and/or ssd enclosure and see which ones support fstrim/smart in linux. It is incredibly difficult to find this information, and often the only way to find out is to have one in your hand and then test it to learn that it does not work (don’t ask me how I know!). THANKS!

        1. That’s actually something I wanted to do during the review, but I forgot:

        2. > see which ones support fstrim/smart in linux

          Jean-Luc is accessing this thing as /dev/nvme0n1 so no USB involved at all (it’s NVMe being transported over PCIe over Thunderbolt) and as such no problems wrt TRIM/SMART.

          To test the JMS583 (one of these brain-damaged USB-to-NVMe bridges) the provided USB-C-to-A adapter might be sufficient to hide Thunderbolt/PCIe from the host.

    2. Fortunately, we don’t have to theorize as Jean-Luc checked for you, but this isn’t a USB to NVME adapter, but a thunderbolt one, so it’s actually on a PCI-E connection all the way through. A non-TB enclosure would be PCI-E(inside the computer) to USB (port on computer) via a cable to USB (port on the enclosure) converted to NVME (connection to the M.2 drive. With TB, all the same connections exist, but they’re not doing a USB protocol like mass storage or UASP, they’re tunneling the acutal PCI-E connection over the USB cable.

      Which I think may be important here. This SSD appears to be a DRAM-less model which means it likely needs a small chunk of host memory to store important data in. That data transfer would have to go over the TB ‘tunnel’ and I’m very curious how that extra latency effects drive performance. If the link is actually running at 10Gb/s as it seems to be, that will quadruple the data transfer portion of the latency over what it would be at 40Gb/s. We do need to keep in mind that the PCI-E v3.0 x4 link has a BW of 32Gb/s. All of these figures are raw wire rates and don’t account for all of the protocol and encoding overhead, so you’ll never see such rates on actual transfers.

      1. > they’re tunneling the acutal PCI-E connection over the USB cable.

        Well, it needs to be a Thunderbolt cable, doesn’t it? Or at least an ‘USB 4.0 cable’ since this implies Thunderbolt capabilities…

        1. Technically most quality 20 Gbps USB-C cables can do 40 Gbps, as long as they’re not over a metre in length.

  2. Has anybody tested the speed of the Thunderbolt 4 interface in Tiger Lake computers? I can’t find any data only press releases and announcements claiming 40 Gbps.

    1. Have you already checked link width/speed via lspci -v? And while benchmarking the storage watched CPU utilization via atop/htop?

      1. Here’s the part related to Thunderbolt 3:

        1. Sorry, there was a -v missing. The SSD itself should be listed and tell which PCIe capabilities have been negotiated (there’s link training and such stuff also over Thunderbolt).

          1. Output from the command:

            I guess it’s not what we need… So here’s the full output from lspci -vv

            I suppose that’s the relevant bit:

            That should be the speed for PCIe Gen3 x4.

    1. boltctl was already installed. Here’s the output:

    2. That’s not true though, as there’s a USB4 data standard as well. USB4 is compatible with Thunderbolt 3, although in this case, it appears to be a Thunderbolt 3 controller with a USB 3.2 fallback solution that’s being sold as USB4, which this device clearly isn’t.
      Thunderbolt 3 can only do 32 Gbps of data, whereas USB4 can do 40 Gbps. You are correct that 20 Gbps is “good enough” though.
      The 10 Gbps fallback mode is only for USB 3.2 mode, not for USB4, which has to be at least 20 Gbps.
      Oh and technically a USB4 peripheral only needs to support legacy USB and tunneled USB 3.2 data at 10 Gbps to be certified as a USB4 for device…
      The most feature stringent devices are hubs for some reason, followed by hosts then devices. Hosts don’t even have to support PCIe/Thunderbolt 3.
      Wikipedia has some pretty solid info now that you might want to check to do a refresher.

        1. Well, you’re missing the context and the features depend on the type of device. I really suggest you check Wikipedia or read my primer over on TechPowerUp, as I went and talked to actual USB4 host and device manufacturers.

  3. If I connect it to my laptop (USB 3.0 Type-A) port it indeed goes through the JMS583 chip, and shows up as /dev/sdc instead:

  4. “The metal enclosure is quite hot to the touch even at idle”

    I was under the impression (perhaps in error) that M,2 SSDs ran fairly cool.

    Is the heat in fact being generated by the USB/Thunderbolt electronic components of the enclosure rather than the SSD its-self?

    Are you able to get a temperature value from the SSD using hddtemp or perhape, more probably, smartctl -a? [ “a” for all attributes rather than just “i” for identity info]

    1. Just about 15 minutes after booting the mini PC:

      48C. The enclosure is not quite that hot to the touch yet.

      1. Thanks for getting the data. It is certainly warmer than I expected.

        By comparison, for a traditional SSD 960 GB in 2.5 inch format

         hddtemp /dev/sda
        /dev/sda: PNY CS900 960GB SSD: 33°C

        (The hddtemp utility in fact gets the data from the SMART capability of the disk and it can be run in daemon mode for serving data on a TCP port which can be used by another daemon process to grab the temperature values and store them in an RRD for later processing and displaying as a graph.)

        1. > It is certainly warmer than I expected

          You might think about why M.2 SSD heatsinks with 15mm height exist 😉

          > grab the temperature values and store them in an RRD

          I’ve not seen any SATA SSD so far that doesn’t do this on its own. smartctl -l scttemp /dev/sd? will show the drive’s thermal history 🙂 With NVMe it’s a different story. At least nvme smart-log /dev/nvme? will show when tresholds have been exceeded.

  5. Does this also offer PCIe in the M.2 slot and if so do you think that this could be used with a Intel Wi-Fi 6E AX210 M.2 2230 board if use an A+E to M-key adapter for WiFi cards as it support standard Key A or Key E socket for attaching the WiFi module?

    Reason I ask is that there are still no WiFi 6E USB adapters
    available so currious if this could be converted into one.

    1. PCIe is there since it’s for NVMe (PCIe) drives, but I don’t know if WiFi cards would be supported. You’d also need to drill the metal enclosure for the antenna(s).

  6. I have issues with the JMS583 controller of this Orico M234 enclosure. After switching/replacing the mounted SSD from a Seagate FireCuda 530 to a Samsung 970 Evo, I can’t go back to the FireCuda 530 anymore. The JMS583 controller is stuck with reporting the Samsung 970 EVO is mounted.

    Even if no SSD is installed at all, the JMS583 controller still claims/reports to the OS the Samsung 970 is present (see dmesg output below).

    The Thunderbolt Controller (JHL744) doesn’t have this issue and correctly recognizes when you switch/replace the mounted SSD.

    So I’m stuck in a state, where I can use the enclosure via USB (JMS583) only with the mounted Samsung 970 EVO – and then it works fine – but with no other SSD installed.

    Is there any known way to “reset” the JMS583 controller? Simple unplugging/powering (Power-off -> Power-On) multiple times in a row doesn’t fix it. Or what about Firmware Upgrades? I don’t find any official Support Website for this enclosure.

    usb 4-2: USB disconnect, device number 12
    usb 4-2: new SuperSpeed Gen 1 USB device number 13 using xhci_hcd
    usb 4-2: New USB device found, idVendor=152d, idProduct=0584, bcdDevice= 2.12
    usb 4-2: New USB device strings: Mfr=1, Product=2, SerialNumber=3
    usb 4-2: Product: JMS583
    usb 4-2: Manufacturer: JMicron
    usb 4-2: SerialNumber: DD56419883EE8
    scsi host1: uas
    scsi 1:0:0:0: Direct-Access    Samsung SSD 970 EVO     0212 PQ: 0 ANSI: 6
    sd 1:0:0:0: Attached scsi generic sg1 type 0
    sd 1:0:0:0: [sda] Unit Not Ready
    sd 1:0:0:0: [sda] Sense Key : Hardware Error [current]
    sd 1:0:0:0: [sda] ASC=0x44 <<vendor>>ASCQ=0x81
    sd 1:0:0:0: [sda] Read Capacity(16) failed: Result: hostbyte=DID_OK driverbyte=DRIVER_SENSE
    sd 1:0:0:0: [sda] Sense Key : Hardware Error [current]
    sd 1:0:0:0: [sda] ASC=0x44 <<vendor>>ASCQ=0x81
    sd 1:0:0:0: [sda] Read Capacity(10) failed: Result: hostbyte=DID_OK driverbyte=DRIVER_SENSE
    sd 1:0:0:0: [sda] Sense Key : Hardware Error [current]
    sd 1:0:0:0: [sda] ASC=0x44 <<vendor>>ASCQ=0x81
    sd 1:0:0:0: tag#24 uas_eh_abort_handler 0 uas-tag 1 inflight: IN
    sd 1:0:0:0: tag#24 CDB: Inquiry 12 01 00 00 40 00
    scsi host1: uas_eh_device_reset_handler start
    usb 4-2: reset SuperSpeed Gen 1 USB device number 13 using xhci_hcd
    scsi host1: uas_eh_device_reset_handler success
    sd 1:0:0:0: [sda] 0 512-byte logical blocks: (0 B/0 B)
    sd 1:0:0:0: [sda] 0-byte physical blocks
    sd 1:0:0:0: [sda] Test WP failed, assume Write Enabled
    sd 1:0:0:0: [sda] Asking for cache data failed
    sd 1:0:0:0: [sda] Assuming drive cache: write through
    sd 1:0:0:0: [sda] Optimal transfer size 33553920 bytes not a multiple of physical block size (0 bytes)
    sd 1:0:0:0: [sda] Unit Not Ready
    sd 1:0:0:0: [sda] Sense Key : Hardware Error [current]
    sd 1:0:0:0: [sda] ASC=0x44 <<vendor>>ASCQ=0x81
    sd 1:0:0:0: [sda] Read Capacity(16) failed: Result: hostbyte=DID_OK driverbyte=DRIVER_SENSE
    sd 1:0:0:0: [sda] Sense Key : Hardware Error [current]
    sd 1:0:0:0: [sda] ASC=0x44 <<vendor>>ASCQ=0x81
    sd 1:0:0:0: [sda] Read Capacity(10) failed: Result: hostbyte=DID_OK driverbyte=DRIVER_SENSE
    sd 1:0:0:0: [sda] Sense Key : Hardware Error [current]
    sd 1:0:0:0: [sda] ASC=0x44 <<vendor>>ASCQ=0x81

    1. I received a response from ORICO Support:

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