I feel a little bit sorry for SATA Express. The next-gen storage interface garnered some attention last year when it appeared on droves of 9-series Intel motherboards, but drives based on the standard are still missing in action, leaving most of those ports unoccupied. That apparently didn't sit well with ASRock, which has developed a unique SATA Express device that actually looks useful. Say hello to what the company describes as the world's first front-mounted USB 3.1 panel:
The unnamed device offers USB 3.1 Type-A and Type-C ports presumably linked to a third-party controller chip. I suspect that chip resides on the unit and connects to the system via the dual PCIe lanes built into SATA Express.
ASRock plans to ship the bay insert with some of its Skylake motherboards. It's unclear whether the device works with any SATAe port, but I hope it does—and that ASRock sells the unit separately. Front-mounted USB 3.1 ports make a lot of sense, especially with reversible Type-C goodness baked in. What else are you gonna plug into SATA Express?
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