Best MoBo for 4 drive NAS

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    • Best MoBo for 4 drive NAS

      All,
      I'm doing the maths on whether to build or buy my next NAS. The maths aren't all driven by $$ - they are also driven in part by the fun of building something yourself (but it is largely a $$ conversation).

      I have no desire to kludge something together using a raspberry pi (I love them but IO is a dog), or banana pi with a sata multiplier etc. I am looking to build something reasonably robust that will run for years and that I can be proud of (at least in part because I don't have to muck around keeping it running).

      What small, low(ish) power board would you recommend with at least 4 on-board SATA ports. Some form of video out would be handy while getting it configured - but that could even be TTY over RS232 if needed.

      Mini ITX or Micro ATX seem over powered for this.

      @tkaiser - I know you wrote something about this a while back. Has anything changed in the ARM landscape?

      Regards
      Jo
    • I would go with some of the Atom or embedded Celeron mini-ITX boards. This gives you a variety of cases, PSU, and RAM options, and you could probably build something clean and pretty robust for around 150 euros/dollars (minus the drives).

      I don't think there are any ARM boards with 4 x SATA, and if there were, you would be limited to their own linux/armbian distro, which may or may not be well-supported.
    • JoAnywhere wrote:

      @tkaiser - I know you wrote something about this a while back. Has anything changed in the ARM landscape?
      Not that much. Currently your only reasonable choices are ARM devices based on Marvell SoCs, see the first list where all Armbian supported devices are listed: forum.armbian.com/topic/6670-b…findComment&comment=50649

      With 4 SATA drives in mind only the Helios4 might be a good choice (also great pick due to ECC DRAM -- people who love their data care especially about data integrity and then ECC DRAM becomes mandatory). But as written over there in Armbian forum since now a lot more ARM boards are equipped with PCIe or are soon to be released adding 2 or 4 SATA ports to such devices is rather easy.

      As usual driver support is important which can be a problem on all CPU platforms, see the hassles Linux users face when choosing a recent HP MicroServer: dschrempf.github.io/posts/Linu…-HPE-MicroServer-MSU.html (the used Marvell 88SE9230 controller there might be seen in 2018 also on ARM boards usable with OMV when at least 2 Gen2 PCIe lanes are available, though no idea whether any driver/utility support for ARM will be freely available. These tools exist of course since those Marvell thingies are used in commercial NAS ARM boxes everywhere)

      If I would want another NAS box with 4 SATA ports (which I don't at the moment -- I prefer single drive NAS installations) I would definitely have a look at a used HP Microserver since ECC DRAM is nice (or even mandatory if you love your data -- if you don't care and like the idea of silent bit rot non-ECC memory is great too), these things just work and the higher idle consumption with spinning disks compared to something ARM based like the Helios4 is more or less irrelevant.

      Nibb31 wrote:

      I don't think there are any ARM boards with 4 x SATA, and if there were, you would be limited to their own linux/armbian distro, which may or may not be well-supported.

      Well, 'their own linux/armbian' is not important at all but (mainline) kernel support. Once an ARM device is supported by mainline kernel software support situation is just like with x86. It's simply 'there'.

      The special thing with Armbian (OMV images for all currently supported +30 ARM devices are based on) is that we care about this kernel/driver stuff, collect patches that are flying around even before they landed upstream and compile all of this into usable OS images (that's one of the differences to 'pure Debian' since there those patches appear much later and sometimes not at all).

      Adding OMV to Armbian with a few tweaks is just a simple additional step now that identifying the necessary tweaks and all the integration work has already been done last year.

      BTW: ARM boards with 4 x SATA are really not that common but of course there exist tons of ARM NAS boxes with at least 4 x SATA ports. It's not only Marvell who produce those NAS SoCs like the Armada series but also Annapurna Labs, RealTek, MediaTek and others. I hope I get my hands on one of those Marvell Armada 7K based NAS boxes like the Asustor AS4000 later this year since GbE is simply too slow these days. Replacing the firmware with Linux/OMV of course (Marvell provides mainline kernel support for their Armada 7K/8K series by contracting open source specialists from France)
    • tkaiser wrote:

      Marvell provides mainline kernel support for their Armada 7K/8K series by contracting open source specialists from France
      Addendum: those specialists from France (Bootlin formerly known as free-electrons) are also those who enable all the other interesting CPU features on the Marvell Armada platforms and commit all of this directly to mainline kernel. Here it's about crypto acceleration (way faster compared to AES-NI on Intel platforms): forum.armbian.com/topic/4089-e…findComment&comment=50884