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gprovost

Support of Helios4 - Intro

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Hi Igor, Hi Armbian team,

 

I wanted to give a short teaser of an upcoming board I have been developing. The board will be launched through a crowd-funding campaign in couple of weeks.

 

Codename : Helios-4

 

helios4-proto-r1.png

 

I'm sure the heatsink will give you some hint :P The board has been build around the Marvell Armada 388 SoC / SoM from SolidRun. So part of the design is inspired from the Clearfog dev board. Actually the SolidRun helped me on the PCB layout to make this little guy reality.

 

Here the main specs :

- dual core A9 @1.6 GHz (max 2Ghz)
- 1GB DDR3 (2GB optional)
- 4x SATA III
- 2x USB 3.0
- 1x Gigabit Ethernet
- Micro SD card
- Built-in HDD power circuitry for 4 disks 
- 2x Fan PWM headers
- I2C, GPIO and extension pins
- Micro USB to Serial
- Dimension 100mm x 100mm
 
So clearly I have started this project with one main goal in mind : to finally bring to market the 1st ARM based board which has been designed specially for NAS purpose. I was frustrated to not find any affordable ARM board which has more than 1 SATA port.
 
Optionally the board will come along with a full kit, acrylic casing fitting 4x HDD (3.5'), 2x FAN, oled screen, cabling and power adaptor. Once assembled, it's the smallest 4x 3.5' disk NAS that you could find our there ;-) If people interested, I will post some pic.
 
Anyhow I stop my pitch here ;-)
 
Having used Armbian images and the build framework / toolchain for quite some times, it was logical for this project that the baseline image for Helios4 would be done via the Armbian project.
 
I recently started to dig into your repo to see how to contribute and squeeze my board in. I might need some guidance later, so I hope I can seek a bit of support from the team. I'm also super keen to donate aboard if it can help ;-)
 
Hope it was the right place to post this.
 
Cheers.

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I must admit it looks very nice and it's truly first properly NAS oriented board. I hope you will manage to keep the price low enough to keep wide interest. Since it's backed by Armada 388 and co-developed by Solidrun, things should be fine and Armbian must work on it ... I assume with some minor adjustments due too slightly different configuration.

 

Currently we are changing configurations for clearfog and clearfog pro from armada so this is related.

Generally, config goes here:

https://github.com/igorpecovnik/lib/tree/master/config/boards

Sources if different here:

https://github.com/igorpecovnik/lib/tree/master/config/sources

and patch if needed here:

https://github.com/igorpecovnik/lib/tree/master/patch

 

I assume diff to Clearfog is minor so, you only need to add board config and a patch under u-boot.

 

BTW. Lately, I saw other commercial project made with Armbian so I am also glad that our work finds the way in. Send us a box of beer, when you get rich  :P

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Once assembled, it's the smallest 4x 3.5' disk NAS that you could find our there ;-) If people interested, I will post some pic.

 

Please post some pictures and also an estimate regarding costs. And more importantly: Does your design make use of ECC memory or not?

 

My first impression was "Nice!" but then I thought about some details.

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And more importantly: Does your design make use of ECC memory or not?

I believe it depends on microSoM - 2GB RAM, ECC and SPI flash are optional features made by request, but this also means that you can order another microSOM (directly from SolidRun) to plug into this carrier board.

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My first impression was "Nice!" but then I thought about some details.

My first impression was "Nice! But..." since I spent some time digging into 4.4 LTS and mainline kernels, and they could use a little bit of improvement here and there. At least this board is designed to work with a fan (or even 2 fans), so missing DFS won't be a problem.

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@Igor, thanks I will look up for the ongoing change related to the clearfog.

That's super great to read that you guys think it's a cool board. I had the strong feeling that I wasn't the only one looking for a board that's finally address the need to build a proper NAS on a fully open source ARM board. Coz yes it's the intention, if the campaign is a success, the whole hardware design will be released as open source (Open Hardware).
 

Send us a box of beer, when you get rich

Haha, well believe it or not, I'm not doing it for the money...If it was really only $$$ that drives this project, I don't think it will actually worth it. My goal is to make it a product that the community likes and adopt...it will be my ultimate satisfaction. But ok deal, if it the campaign succeed, you will get your box of beers ;-)

Regarding the price point, I hope people will first understand that this a high performance SoC... it can't come as dirt cheap as some Pi-like boards. And that obviously I won't be manufacturing tens of thousands units. My target is 1000 units.

As briefly explained, I will principally offer it as a full kit (AC/DC adapter 12V 8A, casing, complete cabling, fans and a little oled screen). My assumption is that if you set it up a NAS, you don't want a messy setup with HDDs hanging around. You want something neat and clean...and sweet to look at :P Anyway there will also be the barebone option.

The price of the full kit will be in the range of 170 - 200 USD.

I'm fully aware of the competition (Synology, WD, etc...) and I can confidently say that apple to apple specs comparison is way cheaper.

Here as some pictures of what it looks like with the casing. (note : this is the casing without the oled screen).

 

P1010017.JPG

P1010019.JPG

P1010023.JPG

P1010021.JPG

 

And more importantly: Does your design make use of ECC memory or not?

 

No. It's non-ECC memory. The SoM supports ECC though, but it will bump the price quite a bit. However it could be a stretch goal or an additional option. I don't wish to open here a discussion on ECC memory in the context of NAS, there are already plenty of years old ongoing threads on [non-]ECC memory for RAID or ZFS. While Helios-4 board is clearly not targeting mission critical application, the likeliness of corrupted data due to bit rot + existing "mitigation" feature (beside doing backups), doesn't in my opinion worth the premium of ECC memory for the scope of this board.

Any opinion are much welcome ;-)

Cheers.

Gauthier.

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At least this board is designed to work with a fan (or even 2 fans), so missing DFS won't be a problem.

 

Well, I hate noise. :)

 

So mounting HDDs vibration free and eliminate any fan noise is essential. As is ECC DRAM when we're talking about data integrity. And since this board is only useful when combined with 4 3.5" HDD quality of the enclosure and PSU start to play an important role... and then you realize that it's $200 to beat for a HP Microserver.

 

BTW: for my personal use cases 3 SATA ports are enough. And on Marvell boards with mPCIe slots you can add 2 SATA ports per mPCIe slot for approx. 20 bucks (ordering from China or get them even cheaper with real invoice and so on). And mechanical converters for $2 convert the M.2 slot on the Clearfogs into a usual SATA port (powering is a different question though).

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Here as some pictures of what it looks like with the casing. (note : this is the casing without the oled screen)

 

That looks good, the large fans could probably be almost silent and position of SBC and orientation of the heatsink fins matches. Well done. :)

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On 09.12.2016 at 9:10 PM, tkaiser said:

Well, I hate noise. :)

I don't like it too, but this SoC will heat up to 70°C in idle (with this "stock" heatsink) without active cooling, and 1 120-135mm fan on minimal RPM mounted on rubber "bolts" won't make more noise than 4 HDDs

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@gprovost

Since you already made the prototype and I see 4 pin fan headers - do you use 4pin fans with PWM support and what drives the PWM signal in this case?

AFAIK there is no PWM driver in the kernel yet, though it shouldn't be that hard to write one.

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That looks good, the large fans could probably be almost silent and position of SBC and orientation of the heatsink fins matches. Well done. :)

Yes I took in consideration the casing for the PCB layout ;-)

 

 

I don't like it too, but this SoC will heat up to 70°C in idle (with this "stock" heatsink) without active cooling, and 1 120-135mm fan on minimal RPM mounted on rubber "bolts" won't make more noise than 4 HDDs

Yup, you right those high performance SoC have some quite high nominal temperature. The casing has a very good air flow transit. In Idle with fans spinning in the low RPM, SoC is around 50C. A bit of active cooling change everything ;-)

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@gprovost

Since you already made the prototype and I see 4 pin fan headers - do you use 4pin fans with PWM support and what drives the PWM signal in this case?

AFAIK there is no PWM driver in the kernel yet, though it shouldn't be that hard to write one.

For my temp test, I was controlling the fan speed manually since the bring up of the board wasn't done yet. Yes those are 4 pins headers. Beside vcc and gnd, the PWM and Sense pins go each to a dedicated gpio. I haven't yet put the effort on the PWM driver, but yeah it should be pretty straight forward. There are already some generic gpio pwm driver out there.

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According to functional specifications this SoC can do hardware PWM on any GPIO pin, but it has only 2 timers for PWM (which is exactly enough to run 2 fans on different speeds  :) )

Someone seems to have already digged quite a lot in the Armada38x ;-)

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I don't like it too, but this SoC will heat up to 70°C in idle (with this "stock" heatsink) without active cooling

 

Strange, am currently running Clearfog Pro idle (upright position and lots of air flow possible) and experience 50°C idle temps (according to /sys/devices/virtual/thermal/thermal_zone0/temp).

 

As soon as $anything is happening temperature increases immediately by 5°-10°C and with some heavy load 70°C are exceeded (cpuburn-a9 even running for 10 minutes doesn't lead to exceeding 80°C -- ambient temperature is 23°C)

 

Edit: Small update: When the board is lying flat on a surface reported temperatures increase by 3-4°C. I also tried out an older image with 3.10.104 kernel and there reported temperature is approx 10°C higher (while heatsink feels as 'warm' as with 4.4 kernel when temperature is reported as being 10°C less):

 

 

root@armada:/home/tk# armbianmonitor -m
Stop monitoring using [ctrl]-[c]
Time        CPU    load %cpu %sys %usr %nice %io %irq   CPU
19:58:27:  800MHz  0.18   5%   0%   0%   0%   1%   2% 66.1°C
19:58:32:  800MHz  0.16   5%   0%   0%   0%   1%   2% 64.6°C
19:58:37:  800MHz  0.15   5%   0%   0%   0%   1%   2% 64.6°C
19:58:42:  800MHz  0.14   5%   0%   0%   0%   1%   2% 64.6°C
19:58:47:  800MHz  0.13   5%   0%   0%   0%   1%   2% 64.6°C
19:58:52:  800MHz  0.12   5%   0%   0%   0%   1%   2% 64.6°C
19:58:57:  800MHz  0.11   5%   0%   0%   0%   1%   2% 64.6°C
19:59:02:  800MHz  0.10   5%   0%   0%   0%   1%   2% 64.6°C
19:59:07:  800MHz  0.09   4%   0%   0%   0%   1%   2% 64.6°C
19:59:12:  800MHz  0.08   4%   0%   0%   0%   1%   2% 65.1°C
19:59:17:  800MHz  0.08   4%   0%   0%   0%   1%   1% 64.6°C
19:59:22:  800MHz  0.07   4%   0%   0%   0%   1%   1% 64.2°C
19:59:27:  800MHz  0.07   4%   0%   0%   0%   1%   2% 64.6°C
19:59:32:  800MHz  0.06   5%   0%   0%   0%   1%   2% 64.2°C
19:59:37:  800MHz  0.06   5%   0%   0%   0%   1%   2% 64.2°C
19:59:43:  800MHz  0.05   5%   0%   0%   0%   1%   2% 64.6°C
19:59:48:  800MHz  0.05   5%   0%   0%   0%   1%   2% 64.2°C
19:59:53:  800MHz  0.04   5%   0%   0%   0%   1%   2% 64.2°C
19:59:58:  800MHz  0.04   5%   0%   0%   0%   1%   2% 64.6°C
20:00:03:  800MHz  0.04   5%   0%   0%   0%   1%   2% 64.6°C
20:00:08:  800MHz  0.03   5%   0%   0%   0%   1%   2% 66.1°C
20:00:13:  800MHz  0.03   5%   0%   0%   0%   1%   2% 65.1°C
20:00:18:  800MHz  0.03   5%   0%   0%   0%   1%   2% 64.6°C
20:00:23:  800MHz  0.03   5%   0%   0%   0%   1%   2% 65.1°C
20:00:28:  800MHz  0.02   5%   0%   0%   0%   1%   2% 64.6°C
20:00:33:  800MHz  0.02   5%   0%   0%   0%   1%   2% 64.2°C
20:00:38:  800MHz  0.02   5%   0%   0%   0%   1%   2% 64.6°C
20:00:43:  800MHz  0.02   5%   0%   0%   0%   1%   2% 64.6°C
20:00:48:  800MHz  0.10   5%   0%   0%   0%   1%   2% 65.1°C
20:00:53: 1600MHz  0.17   6%   0%   1%   0%   1%   2% 70.4°C
20:00:58:  800MHz  0.32   6%   0%   1%   0%   2%   2% 65.6°C
20:01:03:  800MHz  0.37   7%   0%   1%   0%   2%   2% 65.1°C
20:01:08:  800MHz  0.34   7%   0%   1%   0%   2%   2% 64.6°C
20:01:13:  800MHz  0.31   7%   0%   1%   0%   2%   2% 65.6°C
20:01:19:  800MHz  0.29   7%   0%   1%   0%   2%   2% 65.6°C
20:01:24:  800MHz  0.35   7%   0%   1%   0%   2%   2% 64.6°C
20:01:29:  800MHz  0.32   7%   0%   1%   0%   2%   2% 65.1°C
20:01:34:  800MHz  0.29   7%   0%   1%   0%   2%   2% 64.6°C
20:01:39:  800MHz  0.27   7%   0%   1%   0%   2%   2% 65.6°C
20:01:44:  800MHz  0.25   7%   0%   1%   0%   2%   2% 65.1°C 

 

 

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On 11.12.2016 at 2:28 PM, tkaiser said:

Strange, am currently running Clearfog Pro idle (upright position and lots of air flow possible) and experience 50°C idle temps (according to /sys/devices/virtual/thermal/thermal_zone0/temp).

What kernel version and what CPU frequency settings do you use?

At least Clearfog Base doesn't have CPU frequency control DIP switches (so 4.x LTS and mainline kernel always runs @1.6GHz in commercial grade boards), also it has only one pad for heatsink to transfer heat to the carrier board (you can compare pictures here without heatsinks) and PCB size of Base carrier board is much smaller than one of Pro model.

 

Edit: I have ~20-22°C ambient temperature and low humidity (typical for winter season when not using air humidifier)

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What kernel version and what CPU frequency settings do you use?

root@clearfogpro:~# uname -a
Linux clearfogpro 4.4.37-mvebu #5 SMP Fri Dec 9 20:27:26 CET 2016 armv7l armv7l armv7l GNU/Linux
root@clearfogpro:~# cpufreq-info 
cpufrequtils 008: cpufreq-info (C) Dominik Brodowski 2004-2009
Report errors and bugs to cpufreq@vger.kernel.org, please.
analyzing CPU 0:
  no or unknown cpufreq driver is active on this CPU
  maximum transition latency: 0.00 ms.
analyzing CPU 1:
  no or unknown cpufreq driver is active on this CPU
  maximum transition latency: 0.00 ms.

;) A quick sysbench run (Xenial) finishes in 137 seconds so also running at 1.6 GHz all the time. I wait for arrival of the 2 port SATA card (ASM1061) and will then have a look which kernel to choose and whether I can lower clockspeed via DIP switches.

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Hey guys,

 

Awesome news, our Kickstarter campaign is finally live. Be amount the first backers and enjoy our early bird deals :


Our kickstarter pageHelios4

 

For some specs : Helios4_Specifications.pdf

 

Helios4_Support_US.thumb.jpg.75d959933c1be23f78285c8bb516dc45.jpg

Basic Kit - 1GB (USD$125)
(Save 16% off the $149 Retail - Limited to 50 units)


Full Kit - 1GB (USD$139)
(Save 18% off the $169 Retail - Limited to 130 units)


Full Kit - 2GB (USD$165)
(Save 11% off the $185 Retail - Limited to 70 units)

 

Our kickstarter pageHelios4

 

Cheers ;-)

 

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HW looks really good, but for 2GB version, the price is getting too close to HP ProLiant Microserver Gen8 G1610T which also supports/comes with (much more) ECC RAM support!

 

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5 minutes ago, richardk said:

I'd love to know where you can get an Intel microserver for $200, including CPU and 2GB RAM.

 

https://geizhals.de/hp-proliant-microserver-gen8-819185-421-a1322637.html (Ok, it's $220 but that's for 4GB ECC DRAM). And I've to admit that getting HP stuff even cheaper is pretty easy in Germany (if you have some patience check mcl.de, subscribe their newsletter and once they get 'refurbished' servers with full guarantee that fit your needs be the first to order a bunch of them)

 

Back to the Helios4 above: the kit has a header with a lot of GPIOs and 1 x I2C so you it can also serve for IoT purposes with remotely or directly attached sensors (think of I2C-1Wire bridges and stuff like that) and as a flexible home automation thing. And the whole idea is about openness and not just 'being cheap' (a similar Synology DS416j using the same Armada 388 and also providing space for 4 x 3.5" costs a lot more for example)

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34 minutes ago, richardk said:

Well, okay, but in USA is seems to be twice that price.

 

Yeah, I also looked around and can confirm that in some parts of the world those HP Microservers are rather expensive. Seems Helios4 has a real advantage here :)

 

(on a related note: I discovered mcl.de ~20 years ago and ordering through their B2B channel if you've some time/patience means that you usually pay less than 30 percent on average compared to official HP price list which is insanely low here in DE anyway for whatever reasons).

 

Now let's focus back on Helios4 :)

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38 minutes ago, tkaiser said:

Now let's focus back on Helios4 :)

Default case looks interesting, but IMO it would be hard to cancel vibrations from HDDs as they are screwed directly to the case, and I would put the fans in the opposite direction compared to the pictures (to suck the air in instean of blowing out) to add dust filters to them.

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1 hour ago, zador.blood.stained said:

I would put the fans in the opposite direction compared to the pictures (to suck the air in instean of blowing out) to add dust filters to them.

 

Since 3.5" HDD have a width of 102 mm I already looked up 'dust filter roll 100mm' on Aliexpress but your idea is way better and 2 such 70x70mm filters should be pretty cheap if bought in volume. Should we put it on our wish list (for Gauthier's $200,000 stretch goal together with a 6 mm wider enclosure making use of rubber stuff to fight vibrations)?

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On 10.5.2017 at 7:42 PM, gprovost said:

Full Kit - 2GB (USD$165)

 

It's really funny that most backers prefer this (I've not the slightest idea why since AFAIK we've no reasonable virtualization opportunities with this device? So what are the 2GB used for?)

 

Anyway here my personal wish list:

  • 200,000 stretch goal: see one post above (dust filters and 'vibration free' mounting options -- please keep in mind that especially WD advertises voodooesque techniques for their 'NAS HDDs' to keep up with vibrations)
  • 500,000 stretch goal: Negotiate with Solid-Run for a good ECC DRAM deal
  • 1,000,000: later ;) 

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13 hours ago, tkaiser said:

So what are the 2GB used for?

Maybe it's not a NAS device, maybe it's a distributed database node.  You put a dozen of these running a Cassandra cluster...

 

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13 hours ago, tkaiser said:

So what are the 2GB used for?

... or you run a torrent client (with a lot of torrents added) which uses its own in-memory cache (in addition to the global filesystem cache) and it will eat this much memory like it wasn't there.

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