ASRock combines Avoton SoC, 12 SATA ports on Mini-ITX mobo

Attention, home server builders. ASRock has come up with a Mini-ITX motherboard with 12 Serial ATA ports. The awkwardly named C2750D4I is based on Avoton, the server-oriented sibling of Intel's Bay Trail Atom processors. The Atom C2750 SoC soldered onto the board has eight Silvermont cores clocked at up to 2.6GHz, doubling the core count of the most capable Bay Trail chips. Impressively, it appears to get by with passive cooling, as well.

Just look at all those SATA ports. Among those connected to the SoC, two offer 6Gbps connectivity, while four are limited to 3Gbps speeds. The remaining six ports are split between a pair of 6Gbps Marvell controllers.

Although the official product page says the PCI Express x8 slot offers Gen3 connectivity, Avoton is limited to PCIe 2.0. Intel's Atom C2750 specifications indicate that the chip has a maximum of 16 Gen2 PCIe lanes. Two of those lanes are devoted to the Marvell chips, and two more power a pair of Intel Gigabit Ethernet controllers. There's a Realtek GigE chip driving a third Ethernet port, too.

Quad DIMM slots allow the board to support up to 64GB of ECC-protected memory. USB 3.0 didn't make the cut, though. That omission probably won't matter for enterprise applications, but it's a bummer for folks who want an easy external backup option. External connectivity is restricted to a VGA output, a serial port, and two USB 2.0 ports.

I don't see the C2750D4I selling in North America, but the board has popped up in Japan for the equivalent of around $480. Yikes. Of course, if you're really hungry for SATA ports, you should be looking at ASRock's Z87 Extreme11/ac. That monster has a Haswell-compatible socket, an ATX footprint, and a staggering 22 SATA ports. Asking price: $540 at Newegg.

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