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The Ultimate Storage Monster: 32 SATA Ports On A Single Motherboard

Onda has two very peculiar motherboards in the company's arsenal. The B250 D32-D3 and B250 D32-D3 IPFS motherboards both sport up to 32 SATA ports each.

(Image credit: Onda)

Chinese motherboard vendors are widely known for creating unorthodox products. For example, Soyo put out an H310C motherboard that supports up to four generations of Intel processors, or Huananzhi, which slapped DDR3 and DDR4 slots on an X99 motherboard. The list of unconventional motherboards continues to expand with Onda's B250 D32-D3 motherboard.

The Onda B250 D32-D3 measures 405.5 x 310.5mm and doesn't really comply with any established form factor. The motherboard evidently has an LGA 1151 socket, and it's based on the Intel B250 chipset, so processor support is limited to older Skylake and Kaby Lake chips. The B250 D32-D3 isn't your ordinary motherboard, though. It doesn't draw power from a 24-pin power connector, but, instead, from what looks like six 6-pin PCIe power connectors. However, the motherboard's uniqueness lies in the magnanimous number of SATA ports.

(Image credit: Onda)

Onda equipped the B250 D32-D3 with 32 SATA ports, like the kind you would find in laptops. Therefore, you can connect your hard drives or SSDs directly to the motherboard. Using the motherboard as a backplane would require a custom case, of course. Alternatively, you could spend some extra cash on SATA extension cables to connect your storage devices to the motherboard. It's highly improbable that the B250 chipset has enough bandwidth to handle the sheer amount of storage. Onda is most likely using third-party I/O controllers. Sadly, the motherboard vendor doesn't specify the brand or model of the controller. However, we managed to zoom into the chip, and the logo seems to belong to Marvell.

Other than the SATA ports, the motherboard's other specifications are pretty standard. The B250 D32-D3 has a single PCIe x1 slot and a USB 2.0 header. The rear panel houses two Ethernet ports, four USB 3.0 ports, one HDMI port, and one VGA connector. There's also a tiny button, whose function is probably to reset the motherboard's BIOS back to factory settings.

Onda lists the B250 D32-D3 and B250 D32-D3 IPFS for 3,299 yuan, which converts to around $466.80. We doubt you'll find either of these motherboards over in the U.S. market. You'll probably have to look on AliExpress.

  • sygreenblum
    Think of the nightmare if this board failed and you were actually using all those ports. Not sure the market this is aimed at? Single point of failure scares the crap out of me.
    Reply
  • Geef
    Imagine if someone filled every single one of those with M.2 expansion cards.

    Imagine if they made a motherboard with 128 or so M.2 slots. (Maybe more!) They might need to build a more powerful chip and board for something like that! Rename it the Monsterboard. o_O
    Reply
  • King_V
    This seems very much like a drunken "hold my beer and watch this" design...
    Reply
  • theterk
    maybe a single node 3U 2.5" SSD storage device? similar to the 4U 3.5" storage solutions?
    Reply
  • AkbarRamzan
    “Onda equipped the B250 D32-D3 with 32 SATA ports, like the kind you would find in laptops. Therefore, you can't just connect your hard drives or SSDs to the motherboard. You'll spend some extra cash on SATA extension cables to connect your storage devices.”

    Actually you can use this motherboard like backplane and connect drives directly (without cables)
    Reply
  • MeeLee
    Lol!
    Even the most powerful Xeon processors are barely enough for 5 SATA ports at a time, before the socket gets bottlenecked.
    It's really a waste of ports...
    Reply
  • Xajel
    Why extra cables, this board seems to be the actual backplane, the case should be a custom design to hold the drives on this motherboard.
    Reply
  • superfila
    sygreenblum said:
    Think of the nightmare if this board failed and you were actually using all those ports. Not sure the market this is aimed at? Single point of failure scares the crap out of me.
    Install operating system on server 1/hdd A
    Remove hdd, plug all hdds A in motherboard.
    Start cloning from port 1 to 2..31 in the same time, in linux that will be a combo of DD plus PEE commands, so that you only read the first disk once, not 31 times as with consecutive clones.
    Go to lunch, the full rack will be installed by plugging the disks back into servers.

    Sent from my SM-C7000 using Tapatalk
    Reply
  • bit_user
    Thanks for the writeup, Zhiye.
    the motherboard's uniqueness lies in the magnanimous number of SATA ports.
    Just a suggestion: I'd go with and adjective like "multitudinous". "Generous" (which I think you might've been going for) would also be fairly standard, but magnanimous is a bit awkward and atypical.

    I don't mean to pick on your writing, which is always clear and generally very good.
    Reply
  • bit_user
    MeeLee said:
    Lol!
    Even the most powerful Xeon processors are barely enough for 5 SATA ports at a time, before the socket gets bottlenecked.
    It's really a waste of ports...
    You must be talking about the chipset controller? As the article states, it's clearly not using that.

    A Skylake i7 should have plenty of horsepower to handle the bandwidth, which will probably be less than a GPU, altogether. Let's see... 32x 250 GB/sec (a fairly generous estimate of HDD media transfer rate) = 8 GB/sec, which is about half of what a PCIe 3.0 x16 slot can support.

    So, as long as you're using a hardware RAID controller (or maybe not even using RAID, but rather a distributed object store that uses replication to provide fault-tolerance), you're good.

    The real question is: what speed are the Ethernet ports? At least one of them had better be 10 Gig, or else I don't understand this product at all.
    Reply