Externals, Internals, Installation, and Testing
We've already shown the front, so here is the rear layout:
While there are plenty of motherboards with eight SATA ports on-board, anything pushing beyond that figure typically requires a RAID card or higher end HBA, and these parts moved on to some form of grouped cable nearly a decade ago. These include mini-SAS and more recently mini-SAS HD. The SAS format is physically compatible with SATA, and many SAS cards are electrically/logically backwards compatible with SATA as well, so no issues there.
Given the above, the MB516SP-B switches over to mini-SAS HD ports (which accept SFF-8643 cable ends), which drops the connector count to 4 instead of the 16 individual SATA ports that would otherwise be required. This opens up some additional room that can be used for extra SATA power connectors (also a total of four, though they are all on a common bus internally, so less can be connected if necessary). Another welcome addition is an 80mm fan, which is much larger than the previous model. This fan moved a decent amount of air, even at the low setting, and was very quiet while doing so.
We worked with ICY DOCK early on in testing this particular part, and in that process, we updated to a revised version of the PCB, so we had two on-hand and could show both the front side and back side in the same pic. The newer version of the PCB is what will be present in all shipping models of the MB516SP-B.
The PCB layout was good, and any discrepancies I'd pick out are likely attributable to our early parts likely being hand soldered.
The drive sleds are not tool-less, but the four screws per drive were not overly difficult, though it was definitely repetitive when dealing with 16 drives. Seen here is the unit powered up on the test bench. Indicator lights are a single color, solid green for installed drives that are idle. The individual drive lights flash during activity.
Since the MB516SP-B does nothing more than act as an electrical pass-through for the data lines passing through its backplane, there's not a lot to test here beyond confirming that all drives negotiate at full speed. We confirmed this with two different RAID cards – A Highpoint RocketRAID 840A and an Areca ARC-1883ix-24. Here's a quick result with the 840A:
Above was with the full array of 16 Kingston DC400 960GB SSDs. That doesn't work out to full SATA bandwidth of all SSDs, but that's because we are bumping up against the rated 6GB/s bandwidth of the RAID card itself. Let's drop that down to 14 drives:
Still going 6GB/s with 14drives, which works out to 428 MB/s. This is well above the 'next rung down' of 3Gb/s – in the case where the SSDs were negotiating at a lower speed, but let's try and get closer to full drive throughput using some better tools:
Dropping down to 8 drives and using Iometer, we see over 4GB/s (at 128K sequential QD32). Dividing this throughput across the drives works out to 515 MB/s, which is much closer to the expected full-speed throughput of the installed SATA 6Gb/s SSDs. I then created another 8-drive array using the second half of the drives and got the same result, confirming all ports/drives were capable of full speeds via the MB516SP-B.