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tkaiser

Quick review of NanoPi Fire3

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If you run it 24/7 or reboot it's fine.

 

It's shutting down thats the problem, I don't know exactly what it does but I know the power draw spikes to 0.8 amps 5.1v and it stays like that. Idle power is 0.3amps 5v. CPU heats up so it's doing something.

 

I think it's an issue somewhere in some file as this thing does has a power button and maybe friendlyarm didn't program it what to do when someone shutdown from terminal. It doesn't shutdown in armbian btw from power button (reset button works). 

 

Kinda hoping this board does get a stable build sometime because it be awesome getting these in a cluster.

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I now have quite a few of these boards running and I am powering them through Anker mulitport usb charging hubs and all seems well.

 

This might be more of a general Armbian question but if I wanted to verify that my boards aren't experiencing any undervolting, is there a log file that I can look at?

 

I am just being cautious now - everything seems to be running in tip-top shape with no issues.

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6 hours ago, datsuns said:

This might be more of a general Armbian question but if I wanted to verify that my boards aren't experiencing any undervolting, is there a log file that I can look at?

No, in my experience, the board will either hang, switch off, or reset when undervolted. Usually you need a voltmeter to check the board voltage under load. If you don't have one, you'll need to verify that they're all working fine (ie: ping them). The best you can do is to run cpuburn-a53 on all of them at the same time. If nothing fails, you should be fine.

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16 hours ago, wtarreau said:

No, in my experience, the board will either hang, switch off, or reset when undervolted. Usually you need a voltmeter to check the board voltage under load. If you don't have one, you'll need to verify that they're all working fine (ie: ping them). The best you can do is to run cpuburn-a53 on all of them at the same time. If nothing fails, you should be fine.

 

So far I have experienced no problems - no hangs, switch offs or resets. I'm giving each unit the recommended 2 amps and I just want to know what I can get away with. Everything is running headless with a heavy cpu load and nothing else.

 

Specifically, I am using this usb charger:

https://smile.amazon.com/gp/product/B00YRYS4T4/ref=oh_aui_detailpage_o08_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1

 

Since it maxes out at 12 amps over the 10 ports I am only utilizing 6 of them to give each of my nano pis the full 2 amps. I am open to experimentation but I don't want to hurt any of my units or sd cards.

 

What do you think a safe minimum amps is for a high cpu load and not much else?

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41 minutes ago, datsuns said:

What do you think a safe minimum amps is for a high cpu load and not much else?

Well, all these multi-port chargers never deliver up to the amount they claim. You can safely expect 50 to 66% though, which is not bad overall. I removed the current limit detection in mine to stabilize the output for the MiQi farm. That said, I never managed to pull more than 1.6A in peak from my Fire3 at 1.6 GHz under 1.25V, so you have some headroom I guess. You need to consider that when the board is hot, its DC-DC regulators' efficiency starts to drop and to turn the current into more heat. Thus it's more important to measure the current when the board is already hot if you want to be pessimistic (or realistic). That was the case for me at when I measured 1.6A. Quite frankly, you're worrying too much : if when loading all the boards it still works, that's fine. If you want to buy more boards, then buy them and plug them to your charger until you find the limit. The charger will either cut one port or completely shut down. Then you'll know how many more chargers you need to buy depending on the number of boards :-)

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18 minutes ago, wtarreau said:

Well, all these multi-port chargers never deliver up to the amount they claim. You can safely expect 50 to 66% though, which is not bad overall. I removed the current limit detection in mine to stabilize the output for the MiQi farm. That said, I never managed to pull more than 1.6A in peak from my Fire3 at 1.6 GHz under 1.25V, so you have some headroom I guess. You need to consider that when the board is hot, its DC-DC regulators' efficiency starts to drop and to turn the current into more heat. Thus it's more important to measure the current when the board is already hot if you want to be pessimistic (or realistic). That was the case for me at when I measured 1.6A. Quite frankly, you're worrying too much : if when loading all the boards it still works, that's fine. If you want to buy more boards, then buy them and plug them to your charger until you find the limit. The charger will either cut one port or completely shut down. Then you'll know how many more chargers you need to buy depending on the number of boards :-)

 

Ok, I'm going to just keep adding boards if it continues to work. I was more worried about it throttling down the performance of the boards before they shut off but it sounds like that's not what it would do.

 

You seem knowledgeable about the board so what do you feel like is a good stable operating temperature for these units?  I am running active cooling and no overclock (1.4GHz) on all of my fires and I am seeing something between 66-70 degrees C on average when I periodically check on temps. This can of course vary depending on the ambient temerature in the room as well. If I tried out a mild overclock what temperature range would you start to get concerned at? It sounds like you are running yours at 1.6GHz - what kind of cooling are you running?  I'm currently using small fans running on 3.3v. My setup is close to my desk and I have found running them at 5v is on the annoying side so I'd like to keep them at 3.3v.

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On 5/18/2018 at 4:23 AM, tkaiser said:

Just spotted another important difference between NanoPi M3 and Fire3: 'AXP288 PMIC is gone, and replaced by an STM32 Cortex M0 MCU'. So DVFS implementation is different which also explains why with Armbian there's no difference in idle consumption/temperature when clocking with 400 vs. 1400 MHz.

 

Ah, so that explains why my Fire3 runs so hot all the time...!  It would be great to get DVFS support for this board working.  It looks like one would just need to include the spu1705 regulator driver and associated DT support for the STM32/spu1705.  Perhaps it will be straightforward to enable.  It will be interesting to play with this a bit...!

 

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23 hours ago, datsuns said:

 

Ok, I'm going to just keep adding boards if it continues to work. I was more worried about it throttling down the performance of the boards before they shut off but it sounds like that's not what it would do.

 

You seem knowledgeable about the board so what do you feel like is a good stable operating temperature for these units?  I am running active cooling and no overclock (1.4GHz) on all of my fires and I am seeing something between 66-70 degrees C on average when I periodically check on temps. This can of course vary depending on the ambient temerature in the room as well. If I tried out a mild overclock what temperature range would you start to get concerned at? It sounds like you are running yours at 1.6GHz - what kind of cooling are you running?  I'm currently using small fans running on 3.3v. My setup is close to my desk and I have found running them at 5v is on the annoying side so I'd like to keep them at 3.3v.

 

I am currenty running 5 fire 3 with https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B00PK1IIJY/ref=asc_df_B00PK1IIJY53128804/?tag=googshopuk-21&creative=22146&creativeASIN=B00PK1IIJY&linkCode=df0&hvadid=214877336784&hvpos=1o1&hvnetw=g&hvrand=4890684913338719900&hvpone=&hvptwo=&hvqmt=&hvdev=c&hvdvcmdl=&hvlocint=&hvlocphy=9045573&hvtargid=pla-420046835187

 

As for cooling i use https://www.amazon.co.uk/ELUTENG-Computer-Portable-Radiator-Ventilator/dp/B071CL82G9/ref=sr_1_18?ie=UTF8&qid=1528834494&sr=8-18&keywords=usb+fan. I have mine stacked so no need for fans for each unit.

 

All nanopi fire 3s are around 55c at stock freq under full cpu load.

 

Also be very very careful with that 10 port power supply. I know mine gets warm running 5 fire3 and the usb fan at present so do not go to the limit with the power supply as it will most likely melt. Always stay under the rated wattage!. They are not designed for prolonged high wattage usage.

 

I have got my fire3 stacked in https://www.amazon.co.uk/ILS-Clear-Acrylic-Cluster-Raspberry/dp/B0768DDTKD/ref=sr_1_2?s=electronics&ie=UTF8&qid=1528835367&sr=1-2&keywords=raspberry+pi+stack+case

You will need to drill new holes to mount them btw.

 

If you do get problems with under voltage or shutdown etc check the usb cables. So many times with the raspberry pi i have got under-voltage warnings and 95% time it isn't the power supply but cheap cables or long length usb cables that caused the problem.

 

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2 hours ago, shaun27 said:

 

I am currenty running 5 fire 3 with https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B00PK1IIJY/ref=asc_df_B00PK1IIJY53128804/?tag=googshopuk-21&creative=22146&creativeASIN=B00PK1IIJY&linkCode=df0&hvadid=214877336784&hvpos=1o1&hvnetw=g&hvrand=4890684913338719900&hvpone=&hvptwo=&hvqmt=&hvdev=c&hvdvcmdl=&hvlocint=&hvlocphy=9045573&hvtargid=pla-420046835187

 

As for cooling i use https://www.amazon.co.uk/ELUTENG-Computer-Portable-Radiator-Ventilator/dp/B071CL82G9/ref=sr_1_18?ie=UTF8&qid=1528834494&sr=8-18&keywords=usb+fan. I have mine stacked so no need for fans for each unit.

 

All nanopi fire 3s are around 55c at stock freq under full cpu load. 

 

Also be very very careful with that 10 port power supply. I know mine gets warm running 5 fire3 and the usb fan at present so do not go to the limit with the power supply as it will most likely melt. Always stay under the rated wattage!. They are not designed for prolonged high wattage usage.

 

I have got my fire3 stacked in https://www.amazon.co.uk/ILS-Clear-Acrylic-Cluster-Raspberry/dp/B0768DDTKD/ref=sr_1_2?s=electronics&ie=UTF8&qid=1528835367&sr=1-2&keywords=raspberry+pi+stack+case

You will need to drill new holes to mount them btw. 

 

If you do get problems with under voltage or shutdown etc check the usb cables. So many times with the raspberry pi i have got under-voltage warnings and 95% time it isn't the power supply but cheap cables or long length usb cables that caused the problem. 

 

Overall I am running a very similar setup to you but I have 16 nano pi fire3s across three different anker usb multiport chargers. I have 6 fires on a 6-port, 6 fires on a 10-port and 4 fire on a 5 port. Also each of my fires has it's own fan. But now with what you're saying about the power supplies I guess I am going to switch one of my fires off the 6-port over to the 10-port.

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On 6/11/2018 at 11:11 PM, datsuns said:

You seem knowledgeable about the board so what do you feel like is a good stable operating temperature for these units?

I'm pretty sure it depends on a number of parameters. Mine starts to throttle at 113 degrees C because I found that it works fine till 120 and I don't want it to throttle for no reason. In your case for a cluster it will be difficult to test all boards and check that they're running fine over time. But it can also be valuable. I seem to remember reading 90 degrees max in the datasheet so that could be a good start but it's very close to the existing limits. I don't know if the stability of your workloads is critical or if you can take the risk to see one board hang once in a while to find the limits. One other important factor to keep in mind is whether you're using the GPU or not. I am not, which is why I can trust the ability to throttle to cool it down. If you are not using it either, you could possibly decide to start with a limit at 105.

 

Quote

I am running active cooling and no overclock (1.4GHz) on all of my fires and I am seeing something between 66-70 degrees C on average when I periodically check on temps. This can of course vary depending on the ambient temerature in the room as well. If I tried out a mild overclock what temperature range would you start to get concerned at?

I'm only concerned by temperatures getting close to the ones causing instability. For most of my hardware, when I focus on performance I don't care if it shortens its life since it will be obsolete before it dies.  That's why I searched the limits for my board. You need to keep a bit of margin because it takes some time for the temperature to be reported, then when the board starts to throttle it continues to heat a bit. However at very high temperatures it cools down very quickly. Mine throttles at 113 and it rarely reaches 115.

 

Quote

It sounds like you are running yours at 1.6GHz - what kind of cooling are you running?

I'm using the stock heat sink, and worse, the whole thing is packed into a cardboard "enclosure" so that it can safely lay in my computer bag. Basically there is no air flow around it, it only adds latency to the temperature raise, and spreads it all around in the cardboard. It's totally horrible, and when I leave it for too long on my desk, the desk gets hot under it :-)

 

For my use cases (mostly network endpoint for development) it doesn't throttle at all. I've run some build tests, and I have enough time to compile for a few minutes before it starts to throttle, but even when it does, it doesn't for too long (it oscillates between 113 and 115 degrees).

 

Quote

I'm currently using small fans running on 3.3v. My setup is close to my desk and I have found running them at 5v is on the annoying side so I'd like to keep them at 3.3v.

Oh I know what you're talking about, I also happen to hate fans for the same reason. I've installed a 12cm fan behind my MiQi build farm at work, which is powered by the central board's GPIO when the temperature gets too high. It's a 12V fan running on 5V so it probably rotates at less than 1000 RPM and I almost can't hear it. The one at home has much larger heat sinks and no fan. Small fans are noisy and inefficient, you should really pick a large and slow one for your whole cluster. That's what I'd do if I built one (I'd love to just for fun, it's just that I figured that I have no use case for a NanoPi cluster at the moment!).

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On 6/12/2018 at 11:25 PM, datsuns said:

Overall I am running a very similar setup to you but I have 16 nano pi fire3s across three different anker usb multiport chargers. I have 6 fires on a 6-port, 6 fires on a 10-port and 4 fire on a 5 port. Also each of my fires has it's own fan. But now with what you're saying about the power supplies I guess I am going to switch one of my fires off the 6-port over to the 10-port.

The 6 port one I got is same wattage as your 10 port one. It can handle 6 fine, I was just more concerned if you tried to plug up 10 to your 10 port what heat that would generate. I did see a picture on Amazon of one with a burnt out side.

 

In theory that 10 port should be fine as these only require 4 watt each but that's at stock setting headless. On board fans etc adds more draw.

 

Also temperature range i would stay within the nanopi fire3 wiki range or close to it. The CPU could handle it but being such a small board it's the other components you got to worry about which could reduce lifespan of your device. Tests I done with wtarreau .dtb file at 1.6ghz it be fine with a bit of cooling.

 

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The review is really interesting, and I was about to buy one of these boards.
I asked a few questions at the TechSales, and got one interesting answer:

Quote

but there is one thing that needs attention.
the USB interface on the computer does not provide enough power for the Fire3,
so you need to power the Fire3 in other ways,
such as using the DuPont line to connect directly to the 5V and GND pins.

I hope it will be enough if the power source comes from a Raspberry Pi power supply... If this doesn't work, what kind of power supply could I buy to plug in the "DuPont line" (I guess it means the GPIO)?
Thanks.

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44 minutes ago, gounthar said:

The review is really interesting, and I was about to buy one of these boards.
I asked a few questions at the TechSales, and got one interesting answer:

I hope it will be enough if the power source comes from a Raspberry Pi power supply... If this doesn't work, what kind of power supply could I buy to plug in the "DuPont line" (I guess it means the GPIO)?

Any "correct" USB power supply delivering more than 1.5A under 5V will work, though you'll have to make you own cable or to solder the wires. But with good quality USB cables, it will also work via the micro-USB port, because the current drawn by this board is not *that* high. I even power mine from a USB3 connector of my laptop which delivers about 1.6A (it's over spec and that's great for this use case). You really need to test. Some reported 1.2A under 5V. It's only 33% higher than the regular USB3 limit (900mA) and may actually work fine with most PCs or chargers due to large enough margins in the design.

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7 hours ago, gounthar said:

Thanks a lot @wtarreau, I feel more confident about buying this board now.

By the way if we start to be numerous to buy the board, it may finally become incentive for someone to design a 3D printed enclosure. I'd prefer a metal one with a thermal pad serving as a heat sink at the same time, but I'd be happy with anything better than cardboard+duct tape...

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Just out of curiosity is it possible to upgrade the kernal in armbian os (wip version) to include the most recent image dtb files from friendlyelec? If so how you do it because this might solve a few hardware issues i am running into with the wip version mainly power button tbh as thats the only way to truly shutdown this thing.

 

Currently version on armbian wip is 4.14 on friendlyelec 4.4.

 

 

 

 

 

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