New Comet Lake Motherboard Debuts With 20 USB Ports Because Why Not?
If you’ve used a computer for more than six minutes, chances are you’ve run short of USB ports at one time or another. While modern desktops tend to be well-equipped with headers, the trend in laptops has been towards fewer ports, not more. This has been roundly complained about by journalists and enthusiasts, and mostly ignored by vendors. So it goes.
But no longer.
The appropriately-named American Portwell Technologies has launched a motherboard with a whopping 20 USB 3.2 Gen 1 (aka USB 3.0) ports hung off the back of it. Granted, most people are going to be looking for a motherboard that’s a little more consumer-focused. But if you needed to hook up a heck of a lot of hardware, this board could handle it.
Well. It could sorta handle it for you. Meet the PEB-9783G2AR:
If you look at the motherboard, there’s a group of four chips on the south end of the board. I’m fairly certain these are repeaters, though I wasn’t able to determine which company built them or what ports are connected to which USB 3.0 lanes.
The motherboard documentation makes no mention of repeaters, but it does split seemingly identical USB 3.0 ports into two different groups:
Why split the ports into two sections like this? Presumably, because there are four ports wired up normally, and the rest of the controllers are split between USB repeaters.
Does this matter? Well, it could. Let’s say you’ve got a collection of…I don’t know…20 Drobos that you need to connect to a single computer. While it probably would have been better to sort your porn stash and/or family photo collection before you needed to learn SQL to manage the data set, I’m not here to judge.
Here’s the important thing to know: The motherboard may have 20 USB ports, but it doesn’t have 20 USB 3.0 — excuse me, USB 3.2 Gen 1 — connections on it. According to Intel, the W840E/Q470E chipsets both offer a maximum of 10 USB 3.2 Gen 1 ports and 14 USB 2.0 ports (none of which seem to be in use here). There aren’t very many differences between these two chipsets at all, with the Q470E offering a total of six SATA 6.0Gb/s ports compared with eight on the W480E. The Q470E is part of the Intel Stable Image Platform Program (SIPP) while the W480E is not.
So why bother to highlight a motherboard like this? Mostly because it’s fun. We don’t talk much about the hardware you can find in the odd little corners of computing, but there’s almost always something interesting if you dig around a bit. If you actually had a use for it, you’d want to be careful about hooking up the proper USB ports to ensure maximum performance — assuming it mattered. If you just need to communicate with a lot of USB devices over low-bandwidth ports, even having USB 3.0 included might be overkill.