Low Power NAS

Quiet, SSD based NAS, with built in UPS

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I've an idea. A low power, high performance NAS that's a bit more scalable than those desktop drive bays available from the likes of Dlink, Zyxel, WD.

I would also like this to be quiet, which ties in nicely with the low power specification.

I've decided to start with a plain Debian instal and then add thing I need as I go along.

I used the netinst image to speed up the process a bit.

Installed debian onto the 32GB SanDisk Fit Drive. No desktop environments. Installed web, ssh servers and standard utils. I've also gone for samba, as windows works nicely with it. I've installed monitorix for some data collection, and lm-sensors for temperature measuring.

  • 1 × ASRock QC5000M-ITX/PH Motherboard + quad core APU with passive heatsink. I chose this one because it has 3 PCIE ports, USB3, SATA3 and a 15W APU with passive cooling
  • 1 × Generic 4GB 1.35V DDR3 RAM As a home NAS this will not require masses of RAM, I won't be running ZFS or anything fancy on it.
  • 1 × SandDisk Ultra Fit 32GB USB3 Drive This little drive won't stick out far from the back and being USB3 provides a nice speed. Will be the system Drive
  • 1 × Generic Case A case to house everything, starting out with a standard ATX case.
  • 1 × Generic PSU Need some juice for the whole thing, have a SS-250SFD I bought for another project, so it'll do

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  • First run and speed tests

    Daniil01/12/2016 at 20:31 0 comments

    I've put the box together and it's a very nice fit if I do say so myself. Completely silent, and Asrock provide a very nice feature which disables all LEDs, including the NICs. Makes it hard to tell if it's going but perfect for silent running.

    I've been running some tests, I am however a bit stumped by the lack of a speed increase from enabling jumbo frames.

    Average write speed to a samba shard drive is around 63MB/s, at which point my internal hard drive seems to be at 100% active time according to windows task manager. Enabling jumbo frames hasn't changed the speed unfortunatly.

    The speed drops way down when copying a large number of small files, I think this is again due to the limitations of the lowly 2.5" HDD in my laptop.

    I've plugged the server in through a power meter to see how much juice it takes:

    1. Copying + generating monitorix stats: ~30W
    2. Idle: 23W
    3. Off: 2W

    I'm a little disappointed with these figures. I was expecting a far more dynamic power consumption. I believe the PSU has a fairly low efficiency at very low wattages and becomes higher the closer to the spec the draw gets. So I'll have to hunt around for a 50W PSU. A laptop power brick + car PC PSU comes to mind as a good combo, but that's 2 switching stages which will further reduce efficiency.

  • init()

    Daniil01/10/2016 at 19:15 0 comments

    I've an idea to build a high performance, low power, quiet home NAS.

    The NAS would need to be very quiet, and draw as little power as possible. SSDs are perfect for filling both of these requirements, as well as not having any spin up time.

    I also don't want to burn a hole in my pocket so I've done a bit of research and found the MB + CPU combo by ASRock: QC5000M-ITX/PH, at a cost of 58GBP on Amazon. This has 2 SATA ports connected directly to the APU and 4 PCI-E 2.0 lanes. There is also an on-board Realtek GbE controller, but I'm hoping to be able to saturate more than 1 Gigabit link with this setup.

    I've also recently purchased a retired HP server, in which lives an HP Smart Array 410i controller card. The same server has an expander/backplane to support 25 x 2.5" SCSI drives. A nice feature I've recently discovered is that SATA is a subset of SCSI so most SATA drives will work with SCSI backplanes. The plan is to create a custom enclosure to house this 25 disk array along with the other components of the build.

    I plan to add Disks to this setup as my requirements increase. I'm starting with a single 240GB SSD connected to the motherboard SATA port as I would like to test the performance of the configuration as is.

    I'm also planning on building a custom/hacked UPS for this system. As I'm aiming for low power, and I've an electronics degree to make use of, I'm going to try to build a UPS using a mixture of off the shelf and custom hardware. I've found some very nice small <200W ATX power converters that have a 12V input and only occupy slightly more room than the 24 pin ATX power connector. My first step would be to utilise one of those units along with a 12V SLA battery to provide continuous battery backup to the system. I'm looking at using a 15V SMPS to charge the battery and power the application normally.

    This kind of setup should achieve fairly high efficiency, but would lack some features I'd like:

    • Ability to initiate a safe shut-down
    • Battery health monitoring
    • Higher integration(whole UPS in a single 5.25" bay or 2 3.5" bays would be end goal

    Ideas and suggestions are welcome

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