energy efficient x86, 64bit, >4GB RAM (, Arduino interface) SBC

PackElend

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Hello,
I am planning to build a 7/24 home NAS with emphasis on low power consumption, low (preferably zero) noise with 2x3.5" SATA HDDs but I could accept 2.5". The OS choice is not final yet it could be any of FreeNAS, OpenMediaVault, OpenBSD, NAS4free, TrueNAS, TrueOS. I know it is many but I haven't gone into details yet about the differences of these OSs.

For sure, I will run several other services as plugins or docker containers (cloud office, file sharing -> family-wide collaboration). The SBC shall be able to do a basic Plex/KODI transcoding, as that would be very nice to have.

In addition, I would like to be able to communicate via RS232 and switching some digital outputs, thus integrated Arduino would be appreciated.

As these requirements need some ram and horsepower when doing transcoding or using ONLYOFFICE as part of my nextcloud instance. I would rather prefer a 64 bit x86 instead of an ARM CPU, although they run Docker easily too.
So far I considered
  1. UDOO X86 II
    UDOO-X86 Part 2: Roaring performance // Review
  2. NVIDIA® Jetson™
  3. LattePanda Alpha 864s, what got an update recently
    LattePanda Alpha: The big mistake? // Review, L.P. Alpha DC power experiments and observations - Page 2 - LattePanda Forum
  4. DROID-H2
Have I missed an SBC?
Is there any experience with these devices?
I'm going in the wrong direction focusing only on the listed SBCs?

Thank you
Stefan
 

Phishfry

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I can only think of one board that comes close to meeting your criteria.
PCEngines APU2/3/4. Even with that you are maxed out at 4GB RAM and only 1 SATA. You could use add a miniPCIe SATA card.
There are only two supported x86 GPIO platforms. APU and Minnowboard.
 

Phishfry

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ODroid H2 looks nice except for Realtek LAN. You will not have a GPIO driver with these newer boards.
I don't know if we have support for "integrated Arduino" like the Udoo2 offers
 

Phishfry

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I have some NVidia Jetson TK1 boards. We have kernel support but no Jetson Uboot in our tree.
Been meaning to revisit that project.
Hopefully balanga will write a how-to on adding out -of-tree uboot to our sources.
 

Phishfry

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400 bucks for the new and improved LattePanda Alpha.
They have priced themselves too high.
Embedded Intel Wireless yet RTL8111 for LAN.
 

Phishfry

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I bought me a newish-openbox Gigabyte Brix. I really like the form factor and having a case included is nice.
The Brix I scored was an industrial unit with hardened chassis for Digital Signage. Solid build...
 

drhowarddrfine

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The OS choice is not final yet it could be any of FreeNAS, OpenMediaVault, OpenBSD, NAS4free, TrueNAS, TrueOS. I know it is many but I haven't gone into details yet about the differences of these OSs.
The ONLY OS you can discuss here would be FreeBSD even though most of those are FreeBSD based.
 
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PackElend

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wow, those are quick answers.

There are only two supported x86 GPIO platforms. APU and Minnowboard.
I checked PC Engines's APU2 and Minnowboard but they come only with 4 GB max but ONLYOFFICE and ZFS may demand more.

400 bucks for the new and improved LattePanda Alpha.
They have priced themselves too high.
think so too, only wondering if it would outperform the UDOO BOLT?

but no Jetson Uboot in our tree
what is Jetson Uboot?

Gigabyte Brix
seems to be a bit of power consumer as its power supply output is 19VDC@>=2.1A (depending on the model)
 

Phishfry

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ZFS may demand more
Yes. We have users here using it with i386 and <4GB RAM though.
Depends on your usage.
what is Jetson Uboot?
uboot is a bootloader project. Jetson is Nvidia moniker for its Arm offering. Tegra is the chip.
You find them in Chromebooks, tablets and elsewhere.
The TK1 and TK2 maker boards cost more than most but they have an honest to god PCIe bus on them.
Most Arm boards are cheesy and use only USB for everything. It strains under load.
The Jetson boards are aimed at Computer Vision/AI projects as they have cuda cores and low power.
uboot is needed from 'upstream' source because we only have a subset of what the uboot project supports.
This is used on most all Arm boards (Linux + BSD's). There are some arm64 EFI offerings that don't use uboot.
I like to think of uboot as the BIOS and bootstrap loader.

re: BRIX
seems to be a bit of power consumer as its power supply output is 19VDC@>=2.1A (depending on the model)
This comes from their common lineage with laptop components. 19VDC is your standard laptop voltage.
 

Phishfry

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Udoo Bolt being carried by Mouser is a plus. They have realtime inventory and not fakers.
That said for the money we are talking here you could buy a pretty nice ITX rig.
I don't see the logic in a baby hotrod that costs that much.
I do like the NanoITX or 100mm x 100mm format.
 

ralphbsz

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Why not split your concerns into two machines? First, build a small low-power server, using a relatively cheap and simple motherboard. That gives you the ability to have sufficient SATA ports, a sensible amount of memory, and such. This is similar to PhishFry's suggestion of a Gigabyte Brix. There are pretty good machines that are optimized for small servers.

Then connect your "industrial control" to it via network (ethernet or WiFi), for example with a Raspberry Pi or Beaglebone or similar. The added power consumption of the industrial computer is tiny (about 1W), and there you can get all the RS-232, GPIO and Arduino-like interfaces you want.

In a nutshell, what I'm suggesting is this. What you described in the OP is a machine that is neither fish nor fowl: it is a combination of small server, and industrial control interface. If you insist on getting that in a single machine, you will end up with a strange compromise. It might be easier to get two separate machines, each of which is well optimized for the intended single purpose.
 
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PackElend

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Then connect your "industrial control" to it via network (ethernet or WiFi), for example with a Raspberry Pi or Beaglebone or similar. The added power consumption of the industrial computer is tiny (about 1W), and there you can get all the RS-232, GPIO and Arduino-like interfaces you want.
I'm thinking the same but that gets me to the question of the build.
So far I came across:
  1. X11SSN-L-WOHS | Motherboards | Products - Super Micro Computer, Inc.
  2. endless selection of Mini-PC Barebone (BRIX)
  3. same for ASRock boards (Intel Gemini Lake and Apollo Lake)
  4. and many more...
but getting some solid numbers for power consumption is not easy.

Different question. Can I have a setup of 1xSSD (System) + 2xHDD (Data) Raid?
 

ralphbsz

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I bought an Atom micro-ATX motherboard, with 4gig of memory and 6 SATA ports for my home server. But that was about 8 years ago, so it's pretty obsolete now. I don't think I would recommend a 32-bit machine today. Power consumption numbers are hard to come by, because power consumption depends so much on workload and configuration.

You obviously can do the 1xSSD + 2xHDD setup. Matter-of-fact, that's what I have basically at home. The nice thing is that basic operation of the system on only the SSD is fast, including booting much faster. The disadvantage is that your system will not be on redundant storage, so if the SSD dies, you're down. On the other hand, that may not be a big deal: Finding a spare SSD and reinstalling the OS might take you anywhere from an hour to a day, and you might be willing to tolerate that downtime.
 

Phishfry

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The disadvantage is that your system will not be on redundant storage, so if the SSD dies, you're down.
Whole-heartily agree.
Rebuilding the arrays host drive should be cakework and easy with a small restoration of settings.
I like this approach because it isolates raid data from OS nicely.
You can easily mount your array with the FreeBSD memstick to retrieve files.

I use alot of small DOMs and half-slim SATA drives for the OS. You really don't need much. 4GB-8GB suffices.

So the real question is do you want to shoot straight to ZFS or try out UFS.
ZFS is more complicated but has superior data protection schemes.
I use UFS geom mirrors (SSD and NVMe) and even dabbled in graid3 with good results.

The simplicity of UFS along with low memory requirements make it worth considering.
Alot of this is personal choice. Some people cannot sleep at night without the protections of ZFS.
 
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PackElend

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The disadvantage is that your system will not be on redundant storage, so if the SSD dies, you're down. On the other hand, that may not be a big deal: Finding a spare SSD and reinstalling the OS might take you anywhere from an hour to a day, and you might be willing to tolerate that downtime.
I'll to frequent backups/snapshot, that should keep it simple

I like this approach because it isolates raid data from OS nicely.
the only remaining question is the place of the DBs, SSD or HDD?

4GB-8GB suffices
you mean RAM?

So the real question is do you want to shoot straight to ZFS or try out UFS.
oh man, a lot to dive into luckily there is ZFS vs UFS in this forum, is a well cover in there?
but there is more
I found it Disk-on-a-module form factors but there must be a proper interface on the board, mustn't it? It is this interface standard nowadays?
half-slim SATA
but what is this?
geom mirrors
and this?
 

mark_j

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I was looking at this and thinking you could try (as others have said) something like gigabyte's brix series or asus - you can go from celeron up to i7s. However, you said you wanted low power. If you want Intel then low power is IMHO not achievable even with atom. I'm not sure you can achieve this and still have something capable of transcoding and use low power (although you don't define low power) - like say 20W?

That's where ARM crushes Intel; power usage. Imx-8 are a good option but don't have any good support - see cubox from solidrun: https://www.solid-run.com/nxp-family/cubox-pulse/

I just got notified of raspberry pi 4 release and it looks a sweet package with usb 3, true gb ethernet, 15W power usage etc., but it doesn't meet your ram requirement.

BTW I have owncloud running on an raspberry pi 2b (because i'm only on php5 otherwise I'd use nextcloud) and it works great. A 128Gb usb to store data X 2 with zfs. It also runs mariadb, lighttpd and never gets hot, all while chewing 5W of power! But it would never transcode without blowing a fuse.;)
 

ralphbsz

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My Intel Atom (4-core, 1.8 GHz, 32 bit) with 3 built-in disks (two spinning, one SSD) uses on average about 13.5 Watt. That was measured at the input to the 120V power supply, so it includes power supply efficiency. It was also measured several years ago, and configuration and workload have changed since. The system is mostly idle, and at night I would guess completely idle. I vaguely remember that the long-term average CPU utilization was 3.1% (pi percent, funny coincidence). I guess the vast majority of that power usage is for the disk drives, which do not spin down, but are at least idle. If I remember right, typical 3.5" nearline drives should be consuming 5-6 W when idle, which matches the total (accounting for a few W for CPU/memory and power supply).

In contrast, my two RPi (Raspberry Pi) use much less; I have only measured them crudely with an ammeter, and they are about 1 and 2 W (the RPi 0W uses much less than the 3, which is probably because of the USB stuff plugged in). On those, the power consumption really matters, because during power outages they have to run on a battery. But that's without disk drives, they would be useless as a server.
 

mark_j

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My Intel Atom (4-core, 1.8 GHz, 32 bit) with 3 built-in disks (two spinning, one SSD) uses on average about 13.5 Watt.
I'm impressed, but are you sure? An SSD uses at least 6W of power (samsung/kingston for example) by itself. I imagine rotational disk drives use upwards of 20W on their own. You surely measured this with them spun down?
I have SSD hanging off an i.mx6 appliance and it cannot deliver enough power to it so I use a hub. It can deliver 6W, 5V to its USB slots.

See: https://www.servethehome.com/intel-atom-c2550-power-consumption-comparison/
 

ralphbsz

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SSDs may use 6 W while actively writing; if they used that much power continuously in a 2.5" form factor, they would get uncomfortably hot.

Spinning 3.5" disk drives are typically spec'ed at ~5-6 W while idle but spinning, and bursts to 12...14 W while reading and writing. If a drive were to use 20W sustained, it would overheat, and in drive enclosures (the big boxes that hold anywhere from a dozen to >100 drives), if all disks did that, they power supply would "blow" (in reality: gracefully shut down).

I don't know about inrush power when turning disks on. That used to be pretty high, in particular while spinning up. That's why many disk enclosures and motherboards delay spinning disks up, and do them one at a time. I vaguely remember the disk drive industry working on that. But since spinup is such a rare event (compared to reading and writing), I don't have bothered to learn the details.

Don't confuse peak power with sustained power.
 

msplsh

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I have two PCEngine APU2s with 4GB of RAM. They're very nice boards. I can run some limited tests on them and check power draw with a Kill-A-Watt. I'm running OpenBSD on them because of pf, however.

* Low Power
* 3.5 SATA
* Docker
* Nextcloud
* Plex encoding
* Something something RS232 & GPIO

You've got too many requirements, as other people have said, and the Low Power is the killer (fortunately, you didn't put low cost in there, otherwise it would be impossible). You basically want a Synology DS718+ and a Raspberry Pi. It's going to be anywhere from hard to impossible to satisfy all your requirements on one machine.
 
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PackElend

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Hello again,
sorry for have been going silent that long but I thought about all your comments and we escaped the heat on the weekend.

use low power (although you don't define low power)
we haven't but the lower the better a bit above 10W at full load would be nice
It's going to be anywhere from hard to impossible to satisfy all your requirements on one machine
I know, in particular after my comment above
I have SSD hanging off an i.mx6 appliance and it cannot deliver enough power to it so I use a hub. It can deliver 6W, 5V to its USB slots.
See: https://www.servethehome.com/intel-atom-c2550-power-consumption-comparison/
BMC is an interesting figure as that would be a key figure for the power NAS, more below. Is there a comparison like this for the Goldmont Plus Chips?
It looks like that the J4105 boards (or maybe AMD's pendant) are great for a home server. The passmark is barely enough for one h264 1080p transcode+ audio it might buffer but that would be ok as shall only basic media server task, I may even switch to an ARM (the new Raspberry Pi 4 doesn't have an m.2 interface :() .
Intel and AMD newest chips support all codes besides AV1, see Intel Quick Sync Video - Wikipedia, Video Core Next - Wikipedia. AV1 chips won't be available this year anyway, according Realtek Launches Worldwide First 4K UHD Set-top Box SoC (RTD1311), Integrating AV1 Video Decoder and Multiple CAS Functions - REALTEK despites HEVC vs AV1 is still ongoing AOM AV1 Codec vs HEVC/H.265, Will AV1 Dominate in 4K/8K Processing? and Codec wars: The battle between HEVC and AV1 | Industry Trends | IBC.

What considering now is to split the task across to NAS, one low power at least 50% on as it would run
  1. nextcloud
  2. PicApport
  3. Home Assistant
  4. Anki
  5. properly HypriotOS as it would allow simple backup of docker images and reduce FreeBSD demands if I still need it at all (?). Only wondering how to protect the docker images but I can install OpenWRT on my router.
  6. Kodi or Plex but feeding only one full HD telly with a Chromcast ultra
  7. maybe Mopidy if I cannot realize all by Kodi
  8. place for the digikam databases
and a high power NAS, max 25% on else BMC only
  1. Kodi or Plex for mutliple (heavy) transcoding
  2. ONLYOFFICE or Collabora Office
The high power could be even an combination of a good CPU+ on board GPU plus eGPU. It don't shall be an overkill as the UDOO BOLT + RTX 2080Ti 11 GB. It shall rather something like disucess in Can you run a GPU off a M.2 slot? Can you run a GPU off a M.2 slot? or maybe on How to transform your laptop into a gaming powerhouse with an external graphics card. Only thinking if makes sense to to more research in How safe is it to power GPU from a separate Power Supply can one turn the GPU Power supply main switch On or Off as required ? / How to toggle between graphics? 😬.

Stefan
 

Phishfry

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Sorry I missed your questions.
but what is this?
Half Slim is a SATA form factor found all over. From tablets to embedded. Generally OEM thus not found in retail.

but there must be a proper interface on the board, mustn't it? It is this interface standard nowadays?
DOMS come in all flavors. 40pin IDE/44Pin IDE, SATADOM, USBDOM.
Checkout Innodisk. They have been making 2-Million hour MTBF DOM for quite some time.
Used alot in the in video poker/slots/blackjack machines that are all the rage now in many states.

Supermicro has been embedding an internal USB socket on their stuff for over 10 years for USB DOM.
They also have a SuperDOM product as they have finally entered that market.
SATA jack on board with 2 pin for power right next to it.
Some USBDOM use the internal 9pin USB header and there are USB3 internal connector DOM too. No wires, powered by USB.
 
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