that's true, there is a lot of wasted space. I think importing, as Dimitri attempted is fruitless - really need to link to it. I brought multiple MBTiles into QGIS, and it displays lightning fast. The next question is how to serve it up (for those asking why, it is because the people I am working with don't want to have to rely on the NOAA server, and want to use it internally).
In the old Manifold 8 way, I would have envisioned linking to the MBTiles, saving the .map file, and serving it as an IMS. Done. If there were a way to read MBTiles in 8, I would go that route.
So, my hope is that 9 will eventually turn into something like this.
I was able to get Geoserver to display it, using the MBTiles plug-in, but that is a bit spotty.
The Manifold approach from 8 is so much easier than other options out there. The only thing missing is the ability to read MBTiles in this case. Hopefully, 9 will have a path there.