A New Breed of HBA - Raiden Thunderbolt to SATA HBA, 8 Ports [Indiegogo Campaign]

This is a breakthrough in the era of Thunderbolt.

A New Breed of HBA - Raiden Thunderbolt to SATA HBA, 8 Ports [Indiegogo Campaign]

Project URL: https://igg.me/at/raiden-hba/x/24528682#/

I’ve been in love with Apple Silicon ever since its debut, particularly the Mac Mini model. It is sleek, fast, and extremely power efficient. However, there are some huge draw backs, namely the RAM and SSD upgrades that would break a few banks.

But none of that should hinder this device from doing more thanks to the two Thunderbolt ports that it has. On paper, each Thunderbolt port could deliver a PCIe 3.0 x4 connection, which is never seen in this segment of devices.

If we can utilize those ports, I believe the Mac Mini would serve as a very prominent low power server. Today, let me introduce to you my Indiegogo Campaign: Raiden Thunderbolt to SATA HBA that can turn any PC case, JBOD, retired NAS, or even a bunch of hard drives, into a Thunderbolt storage array, so that the Mac Mini, or any Thunderbolt-enabled Mini PC, can act as a storage server on the network.

Project Details:

Interface: USB4/Thunderbolt Compatible, USB-C

Chipset: Asmedia USB4 Controller with Thunderbolt Compatibility

HBA: Realtek PCIe SATA Controller with ASPM Support

Network: Realtek 2.5Gbe NIC

USB Ports: Two 10Gbps USB-C Ports

Power: Standard ATX 24 Pin Connector

Case Headers: Power On/Off, Power LED, HDD Activity LED

Fan Header: 3 Pin Fan Header

How it Works:

This HBA is designed to be placed inside a case and be powered by a standard ATX PSU (ATX Spec, so SFX as a form factor would also work). It can be secured to one of the available PCIe slots found in the back of the case. In the package, a low profile bracket would be included, so it can be installed inside of a 2U case vertically, or an 1U case horizontally.

At the front of the card (PCIe bracket side), there will be one USB-C port that supports USB4/TB connection to the host computer, and two 10Gbps USB-C ports. In addition, there will be a Realtek 2.5G NIC that is connected to the PCIe bus instead of USB for better stability in sustained workloads.

In the back, there will be two Mini SAS SFF 8087 connectors that each carry four channels of SATA signal, for a total of eight SATA 6Gbps ports.

One thing to keep in mind is that Thunderbolt has limited PCIe bandwidth. For real world applications, with one lane of Thunderbolt 3/4 (PCIe 3.0 x2), the theoretical max transfer speed is about 1500 MB/s. Most HDDs would be around 150 MB/s, so it is sufficient to support eight HDDs. However, SATA SSDs can run as fast as 560 MB/s, so there’s a bit of trade off here.

This HBA is based on an USB4 solution, which is compatible with Thunderbolt. Since Intel effectively made Thunderbolt 3 the base of USB4, this card could be considered as Thunderbolt 3 capable, while sharing some functionalities with USB4/Thunderbolt 4 as well.

The Thunderbolt Controller would be compatible with anything Thunderbolt 3, USB4, and Thunderbolt 4 host, so you can use it with AMD/Intel based x86 PC, too.

Use Cases:

Scenario 1 - Eight HDD with Software RAID

Apple Disk Utility has official support for RAID 0, 1, and 5. All eight disks will be presented to the OS for direct IO.

Scenario 2 - Three SSDs, Five HDDs for Tiered Storage

With this setup, you can use three SSDs for RAID0 to get the maximum throughput of the HBA, which is about 1500 MB/s. The rest of the ports can be used for archiving, which uses slower HDDs with mirrored or parity RAID to ensure data safety.

Scenario 3 - ZFS, Striped Z1 Array with two vdev

ZFS is supported in BSD, Linux, and MacOS. We can take four drives and make a RAID-Z1 array, then take two of these arrays to make a Striped vdev to improve performance. Since the HBA does not interfere with OS interaction with the disks, it will be the same as using an RAID card flashed as IT mode.

There are endless possibilities with this HBA for expanding the storage capabilities. With less network-capable devices, there’s a 2.5Gbe NIC that connects directly over PCIe, so no more need for 2.5G USB dongles that may or may not work for Mac users, or even Mini PCs that only have 1G ports.


I am really excited to bring the Raiden HBA to reality and I am working with a trusted ODM to facilitate the process. If you are interested in this HBA, please sponsor the project on Indiegogo- I will do the best I can to ensure the quality of the end product.

Project URL: https://igg.me/at/raiden-hba/x/24528682#/

Also, join my Reddit post if you have any questions or suggestions: https://www.reddit.com/r/homelab/comments/1c8h9rl/introducing_my_project_raiden_thunderbolt_hba/