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ASRock Gives SATA-Express Purpose With USB 3.1 And Type-C, Also Reveals U.2 Adapter

If you've been wondering what to do with those SATA-Express ports, ASRock has something it thinks you'll like. Its new front USB 3.1 panel has two USB ports on it, and it connects to a SATA-Express port. Additionally, ASRock is also announcing a U.2 kit.

The front USB 3.1 panel is a 5.25" device that has a PCB inside, which ends in two USB connections -- a USB 3.1 Type-A port, and a USB 3.1 Type-C port. To power the device you need a SATA power connector, a USB 2.0 header (which is only for power), and you need a SATA-Express port for data.

It uses SATA-Express because it is wired straight to PCI-Express lanes, which connect to an ASMedia ASM1142 controller. Of course, the 10 Gb/s of bandwidth provided by the two PCI-Express 2.0 lanes is split over the two USB ports, so if you're using both at the same time, they'll be fighting for bandwidth (assuming you can get that much data throughout from your client devices). If you're using one device, you'll be free to use the full 10 Gb/s spec on that port.

The U.2 kit is a simple bracket that converts an M.2 connector to a U.2 connector, which supports the NVMe PCI-Express SSDs that run over four PCI-Express 3.0 lanes, such as the new Intel 750 series SSDs.

ASRock didn't reveal pricing or availability for either of the products, although it wouldn't surprise us if they come included with some of its motherboards.

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  • FlayerSlayer
    While I'm grateful for front-facing USB Type-C ports to finally come to market, I'm a little underwhelmed by this. (And not just the three plugs to get it to work.) If we're going to fill a 5.25" bay, can we have more than just 2x USB ports on an otherwise flat, featureless panel? How about throwing in an SD Card reader (two slots, Micro and Full Size) while we're at it? You already have a USB header connection, so why not make use of it?
    Reply
  • weilin
    why does this thing need both a SATA power connector AND a USB 2.0 connector (presumably only for power)? What's wrong with getting all the power it needs just off the SATA power connector...
    Reply
  • RazberyBandit
    why does this thing need both a SATA power connector AND a USB 2.0 connector (presumably only for power)? What's wrong with getting all the power it needs just off the SATA power connector...
    I can only guess that the issue could be the different voltages. ASRock probably found this manner easier than adding a DC-to-DC converter on the PCB to change the 12V SATA signal to the 5V signal USB devices need.
    Reply
  • weilin
    16266595 said:
    why does this thing need both a SATA power connector AND a USB 2.0 connector (presumably only for power)? What's wrong with getting all the power it needs just off the SATA power connector...
    I can only guess that the issue could be the different voltages. ASRock probably found this manner easier than adding a DC-to-DC converter on the PCB to change the 12V SATA signal to the 5V signal USB devices need.

    USB 2.0 only provides 5v. SATA provides 3.3v, 5v and 12v.

    I think the controller board is powered by the USB 2.0 5v and the USB 3.1 power delivery uses the SATA power connector.

    My guess is they're relying on the motherboard to clean up the 5v source so that they don't need to include the circuitry to clean up the input from the SATA power connector.
    Reply
  • thundervore
    They need to go back to the drawing board. Such a waste of a 5.25 bay if it only gives 2 USB ports and it needs 3 separate connections lol.
    Reply
  • FlayerSlayer
    They need to go back to the drawing board. Such a waste of a 5.25 bay if it only gives 2 USB ports and it needs 3 separate connections lol.
    Could they at least add in a dollar-store thermometer on the front? Or just move the plugs closer to the center? Anything? Heck, add a drawer, just a cheap plastic drawer to store flash drives in. Anything with all that empty space.
    Reply