NAS Kit v1.2 Gets Support for NanoPi NEO 2, an UAS Capable USB to SATA Bridge, and an RTC Battery

Last month, FriendlyELEC launched a NAS Dock kit for NanoPi NEO board, but they’ll already removed it from their store. That’s because they have a new version NAS Dock v1.2 that also supports NanoPi NEO 2 with Gigabit Ethernet, replaces JMicron JM20329 by UAS capable JMicron JMS567 USB 3.0 to SATA bridge, and adds an RTC battery.

The rest of NAS Dock Kit v1.2 specifications remain the same:

  • 1-bay NAS Dock expansion board with
    • JMicron JMS567 USB 3.0 to SATA bridge
    • SATA connector for 2.5″ HDD drive
    • Extra USB host port
    • On/off switch, and dual color status LED
    • Header to connect NanoPi NEO / NEO 2 board
    • 12V DC power input
    • Dimensions – 151 x 89.7 mm
  • NS-120 aluminum enclosure (154 x 100 x 47.5 mm, 414 grams)
  • Heatsink set for NanoPi NEO / NEO 2
  • 4x M3 6mm screws, 8x M2.5 6 mm screws
  • Four rubber pads
  • Front and back covers

Since NEO 2 has a low profile Ethernet jack, the company provides both NEO and NEO 2 back covers in the kit. It’s probably less hassle than providing two kits.

Software has also improved, as while the company still provides an OpenMediaVault image, it’s now based on Linux 4.11 + Debian 8. You’ll find the download links and instructions in the Wiki. FriendlyELEC also added the better iozone benchmark to the quick hdparm test to compare the “SATA” performance to Raspberry Pi 3, NanoPi NEO, and NanoPi NEO 2 boards.

They should really have done a file copy test over Gigabit Ethernet, as NanoPi NEO 2 should be about 2 to 3 times faster while copying a large file. Raspberry Pi 3 shared Ethernet and USB bandwidth may also affect the performance badly in some specific use cases, while NanoPi NEO 2 won’t have this type of problem since Ethernet and USB are two separate interfaces in Allwinner H5 processor.

The other good news is that despite the improvements, FriendlyELEC NAS Dock Kit price has not changed, and it is still sold for $12.99 + shipping. You’ll also need a  $14.99 NanoPi NEO 2, a micro SD card, a 12V/2A power supply to complete the setup. In other news, the company has also introduced a kit with NanoPi NEO 2 board, and a cute metal case with OLED display going for $34 in total (board included).

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tkaiser
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tkaiser

Those storage performance graphs above are weird since both NEO and NEO2 aren’t slower than a Raspberry Pi wrt USB storage and it’s quite the opposite as soon as a second or third disk is involved!

It seems FriendlyELEC missed here correct settings (for example if they use ondemand cpufreq governor a few tweaks are necessary since otherwise performance in synthetic benchmarks sucks while most real world tasks are unaffected). They should have a look here for these settings as well as other tweaks that improve NAS performance slightly for free πŸ™‚

And you’re absolutely right asking for NAS throughput numbers. All Raspberries and NEO are limited to ~10MB/s here while NEO2 with appropriate settings will be at least 3.5 times faster!

Sander
Guest
Sander

More weirdness: boards with Linux, but benchmarking against a NTFS drive? Why not EXT or BTRFS?

tkaiser
Guest
tkaiser

@Sander
Ha! Good catch. With NTFS the numbers now fit since CPU might have been the bottleneck then (depending on ntfs driver used). But I agree: tests should be done with ext4 and for real world use cases the best option with NEO/NEO2 since they’re running with 4.11 or above now is btrfs with ‘compress=lzo’ added to /etc/fstab!

tkaiser
Guest
tkaiser

@cnxsoft
Great! In case you get less than 38MB/s sequential read/write through the network please don’t publish results but send me an email first: I’ll let then build an automated OMV with latest tweaks to re-test.

Sander
Guest
Sander

I have a Nano Pi Neo2 at home, connected via USB2 with an external harddisk drive, with ext3 on it.

From the performance screenshot, I tried

“iozone -a -e -l -s 1000M -r 500k -r 1M -i0 -i1 -i2 -f izone-file”

but that results in

“Can not mix throughput mode and auto-mode flags.” …

The same command without -l is accepted, and is now running:

“iozone -a -e -s 1000M -r 500k -r 1M -i0 -i1 -i2 -f /home/sander/usb-mount/testing/izone-file”

I will post back the result.

tkaiser
Guest
tkaiser

@Sander
The test setup is also weird. 4K and 1MB would be useful (and a few other block sizes are always interesting since you get a better idea what’s going on). I usually recommend doing this instead (more results, less time spent, also reliable):

And if you don’t want to get numbers without meaning switching to performance governor before is mandatory…

Sander
Guest
Sander

Ah, great, my comment is gone …

Result on Nano Pi Neo2:


102400 4 10080 10020 7642 7658 734 1684
102400 16 17282 20121 20598 20672 2720 6677
102400 512 31711 35647 36158 35938 25928 32920
102400 1024 33265 36243 36994 36916 30866 34636
102400 16384 34874 36561 38730 38803 37055 36612

so: 36 MB/s?

tkaiser
Guest
tkaiser

@Sander
36 MB/s write and 38.5 MB/s read. But I would assume your disk enclosure is not UAS capable (you can check with ‘lsusb -t’ — if you don’t see ‘uas’ then it’s not). With UAS active ~5 MB/s more should be possible. But in case you’re using Armbian on the NEO2 it should be noted that we did not start to look into any settings optimization on H5 boards yet so performance will automagically improve later (which reminds of asking FriendlyELEC’s Yuefei for a NEO Plus 2 dev sample)

Sander
Guest
Sander

@tkaiser
“lsusb -t | grep -i uas” gives no output, so no UAS then?
And UAS = USB Attached SCSI ?

CampGareth
Guest
CampGareth

@Sander
Yep, UAS = USB Attached SCSI. Also known as “talk efficiently to me baby”

manuel
Guest
manuel

I have to say i generally really like this solution. Having just a SBC with external USB HDs is a cable mess.
The downside (for me) are the 512MB Ram. I don’t really need the highest transfer speeds (30MB/s or so is ok), but i like to host a few services, and tuning everything for RAM usage sucks. Computing power is nice, but i doesn’t really matter if some things take longer.
Does anybody know of similar solutions (also cheap) for other boards or more generally for a variety of boards?

tkaiser
Guest
tkaiser

@Sander
USB Attached SCSI requires support on both ends of the cable and on USB-to-SATA bridges you find it just on a few USB3 capable chipsets: http://linux-sunxi.org/USB/UAS#OK

@manuel
The ‘problem’ here is that you need USB on pin headers. So you get this only with NanoPi NEO currently or Orange Pi Zero variants (still waiting for an H5 equipped Zero with Gigabit Ethernet): https://forum.armbian.com/index.php?/topic/3317-orange-pi-zero-nas-expansion-board-with-sata-msata/

FransM
Guest
FransM

Cute board, but their shipping prices are excessive. This nas dock + neo2 is usd 28. Shipping with China post class 3 to the Netherlands is $ 20 !!!! (actually DHL is even cheaper with $19). (and there is a German distributer but that one only seems to deal with retailers, not with end customers).
I don’t think this is going to end up at my doorstep πŸ™

jim st
Guest
jim st

I have the original version, and the NEO boards. I tried it with a 2TB sata drive and have no luck with it. Also have asked if anyone could log via SSH into the openmediavault with the default credentials, and have so far gotten on confirmation and no updated credentials, so I am still unable to troubleshoot.

They have been responding to my emails, but so far no answer to the question about the login so i can see if there is any hope of making the 2tb drive work.

Anyone have any idea why a 2tb drive would not work? I’ve got to say I can’t think of one.

With other NAS systems I did have problems with 5 and 8tb drives not being compatable, but i think that was the OS support on the systems.

I’ll try the NEO2 on the next go-round.

tkaiser
Guest
tkaiser

@FransM
If there’s a large electronics retailer in Netherlands with focus on SBC I would ask them to get in touch with http://www.allnet.de/en/ so the problem is solved within a few weeks πŸ™‚

@jim st
Don’t know about their OMV images but in the thread for the older NAS variant there was a link to an Armbian OMV image that is known to work (logon credentials admin/root with pwd ‘openmediavault’). BTW: one simple reason for ‘login problems’ is image burning gone wrong (that’s why anyone should use Etcher these days and forget about tools like dd or WinDiskimager since they don’t verify what they’ve written before and not even complain when they’ve nothing written at all)

jim st
Guest
jim st

I don’t have a problem with the thing running. I actually have it running, and plugged a USB stick into the USB port on the NASdock board. That proves the nasdock usb is working, as that device showed up as /dev/sda and worked fine.

but I have a new from the box 2tb (tested) sata drive on the dock, and it doesn’t come up. So i want to ssh into the thing and see if there is any hints why the USB to SATA bridge isn’t working. I’ve only built up one of two of the v1.0 boards i have, but at least the USB is working.

I got a reply from friendlyarm that they had not tried large SATA which is kind of sad. I’ve got a couple of “reconditioned” 4tb 2.5″ sata drives that I had hoped to put in these boxes, because the vertical height is about 1.5 times a normal sata profile. So most boxes won’t fit them.

I tried resetting the password from the gui, looked at what options I could from the gui, and they show ssh enabled.

but the only place that the admin:openmediavault login combo works with their image is the gui login.

Can you repost the full link to the OMV image that works? I actually read your postings from the previous post before trying all this crap, and I don’t recall making sense of which OMV image exactly to try. I didn’t want to run down that rathole. The OMV site didn’t have an exact build for the Neo that I could find.

Many other nice platforms, but no nanopi (or I didn’t see it).

Yes, I used the windiskimager, though I downloaded etcher for future reference. Also if for some bizarre reason it worked and windiskimager didn’t. (figured friendlyarm would ask). As it turned out that isn’t the problem.

Appreciate your efforts and response.
thanks

tkaiser
Guest
tkaiser

@jim st
At the top of http://kaiser-edv.de/tmp/lGtv38/

But please don’t use this image productive, it’s using legacy kernel and misses many many tweaks I developed over the last weeks. Once mainline kernel for H3 and H5 boards gets more stable I’ll push new OMV images to official download locations (all you find there except those for RPi are already made from scratch using Armbian’s build system with advanced performance settings).

2TB shouldn’t be an issue but I really don’t know which problems JM20329 used on the first version might have (since I stopped buying USB2 equipment years ago due to ‘made for USB3’ always being the better choice even if it’s connected to USB2 ports only)

Jim st
Guest
Jim st

Thanks much. I mainly want to see if I can see the hardware at all.

So far I’ve asked them in every email about the account password issue and go no response. I hope the either get good support on an official OMV, or upload their build environment somewhere it can be used for troubleshooting.

Thanks again!

Ian Tester
Member

@cnxsoft (and whoever also performs benchmarks)
Please include XFS in the list of filesystems tested. For me it’s my #2 preferred fs after BTRFS, or #1 if reliability is an absolute must.

FransM
Guest
FransM

@cnxsoft

@tkaiser

The weird thing is that shipping for a NEO2 alone is $ 5. For the NAS enclosure shipping is $ 13 when ordered individually. And if I put them in one order it is $ 20 (up to a month for delivery so guess this is surface mail). That is very odd.

BTW according to the china post web site a small packet surface mail to region 3 is rmb 7 for the first 100 g then 4.50 for each following 100 g. That would bring it to rmb 61. (about $9). I can imagine also a surcharge for shipping and handling, but this difference is a bit excessive.

I suspect it is the metal that makes the package expensive.

(btw although the board mentions usb3 the neo2 only supports usb2 (or I am very misinformed)

That $34 starter kit also looks quite nice; with a usb disk it would have the same functionality but with the possibility to have a bit of a gui. Pity it it out of stock.

tkaiser
Guest
tkaiser

FransM :
although the board mentions usb3 the neo2 only supports usb2 (or I am very misinformed)

So what? πŸ™‚

It’s 2017 now. No one right in his mind buys still USB2 equipment if USB3 gear costs the same. If you look above then one of JMS567’s key features is ‘USB Attached SCSI’ that can be used with USB2 only Allwinner SoCs but that you’ll only find on a few USB3 capable USB-to-SATA bridges. You always choose USB3 capable chips these days even if you don’t plan to connect the SuperSpeed data lines at all (as it’s exactly the case here).

Same applies to USB Ethernet dongles. Skip the USB2 stuff, look for USB3 and you get peripherals that work great on both USB2 und USB3 ports (for example all USB2 Gigabit Ethernet dongles perform way lower than their USB3 counterparts on USB2 ports and do not even remotely saturate Hi-Speed transfer speeds).

By choosing USB3 capable chipsets you also ensure that you don’t get crappy EOL chips from over a decade ago, you minimize the risk that your chip needs a firmware update, on SATA bridges you also minimize the risk that you’ll run into troubles connecting high capacity drives (old USB2 based chipsets ‘implement’ 32 bit overflows and choke on drives larger than 2TB) and so on. Simply skip USB2 peripherals and always choose USB3 even on USB2 hosts.

roel
Guest
roel

Does somebody know if the usb-gadget feature is available through one of the 2 exposed usb ports?

tkaiser
Guest
tkaiser

@roel
Can only work via the OTG port (that’s Micro USB inside the enclosure). But please be aware that there are software issues too, with legacy kernel you need patches for some stuff (check Armbian forum) and with mainline IIRC OTG is still not ready.

FransM
Guest
FransM

@tkaiser
I fully agree with your statement.

My only observation was that the article explictly mentions that it is a USB3 to SATA bridge. This could confuse some into thinking that the whole setup (so including NEO) would be USB3 based, which (afaik) is not the case.

Then again probably the USB is not going to be the bottleneck

PS: for cnxsoft: I am subscribed to the thread but apparently this does not work properly as I did not get any notification

tkaiser
Guest
tkaiser

@FransM
USB is not the bottleneck with NEO (since Fast Ethernet limits NAS performance here) but with NEO2 it is. Since even with UAS you can’t get much more than 40MB/s over an USB Hi-Speed connection so NEO2’s Gigabit Ethernet port is sufficient for up to two and a half USB disks accessed in parallel πŸ˜‰

The problem is that those USB version numbers were never meant to indicate transfer speeds (that’s what Hi-Speed, SuperSpeed or SuperSpeed Plus are meant for) but since the market ignored that customers now automatically have wrong expectations (assuming SuperSpeed if they read USB3 and SuperSpeed Plus when they read of USB 3.1 for example). Still mentioning USB3 is correct since you can and should use those USB version numbers use for something different: If you get an USB3 capable chip you know that this one is made for high speeds (will fully saturate USB2’s Hi-Speed later unlike most USB2 equipment), that it’s not outdated since the design is just a few years old, that it most likely doesn’t require firmware updates and is also suited for high capacity disk sizes.

roel
Guest
roel

@tkaiser
OK, I hoped one of the 2 usb ports was connected to the OTG port.

tkaiser
Guest
tkaiser

@roel
Well, it’s just drilling in a small hole on the side of front or back cover combined with any Micro USB cable and you’re done. In fact I prefer this (use 2 NanoPi NEO with g_ether USB gadget mode) since connector is fixed at least on one end of the cable πŸ™‚

By looking at the pictures that should work with disks up to 9.5mm in height (maybe even more).

Janek
Guest
Janek

Unfortunatelly, the secon product from article is out of stock now πŸ™

tkaiser
Guest
tkaiser

@cnxsoft: Since I stumbled accross Pete Scargill’s first steps with the NAS kit and I still fear that FriendlyELEC’s own OMV images miss some tweaks I came up with this (totally untested) script to further tweak OMV performance (not just with NEO 2): https://pastebin.com/8AE5sZFz

Especially the Samba tweaks are important (on non OMV installations simply add the few lines to smb.conf global section) but when using ondemand cpufreq governor those additional settings are necessary too. Would be interesting to compare FriendlyELEC’s OMV image with and without these adjustments.

Wrt ‘official’ OMV images for H3 or H5 boards it will still take some time until situation with mainline kernel (especially Ethernet driver) gets stable πŸ™

NAS Kit with WD Blue
Guest
NAS Kit with WD Blue

@jim st

My experience echos yours.

Recently ordered the NAS Kit for my NanoPi Neo 2 but I am having some trouble setting it up with my hard drive.
Am using the latest Debian image with OpenMediaVault (nanopi-neo2_debian-nas-jessie_4.11.2_20170531) with my WD Blue 1 TB hard drive (model WD10JPVX). Either scanning for physical disks in OMV or using fdisk from the command line, the HDD cannot be detected. Only the SD card can be detected (partitions /dev/mmkblk0 and /dev/mmkblk1) but not /dev/sda.

Have emailed Friendly Elec technical support to see what they know about this issue.

TH
Guest
TH

@NAS Kit with WD Blue
They will ask you to solder the NEO or NEO2’s pin header. I did that myself and is working now. Previously same as you, emailed them, tell you what, save your effort, their technical support is just sxxk. I told them the problem, told them how i solved it.

tkaiser
Guest
tkaiser

TH :
They will ask you to solder the NEO or NEO2’s pin header. I did that myself and is working now.

Huh? You tried it without soldering the pin headers first?

TH
Guest
TH

@tkaiser
Yes, in fact i have 2 x Nas Dock v1.2, 1 x NEO, 1 x NEO2, none of them worked without the pin header soldered. If you goto their Nas Dock page, you will notice this new option to purchase “NanoPi NEO2 with Pin Headers Soldered (+$15.99)”

I did feedback to their sales person that this is totally unacceptable unless it is part of the DIY.

tkaiser
Guest
tkaiser

@TH
Hmm… I would believe FriendlyELEC staff is too much into technical details they could imagine ‘contactless USB’ πŸ™‚

Maybe it’s the same with hardware engineers planning to use Micro USB to power devices? They use their quality bench PSUs adjusted to 5.2V with a quality cable as short as possible in the lab, measure never voltage drops below 5V and are simply not able to imagine the reality outside of their lab (consumers using all sorts of crappy USB cables with inappropriate chargers causing all sorts of instabilities and even data corruption)

Let’s hope FriendlyELEC addresses this by improving documentation and product descriptions.

obe1978
Guest
obe1978

How max capacity disk could be managed by this mini NAS? Does 2 or 4TB is not too much if I will use NanoPI NEO2 ?

tkaiser
Guest
tkaiser

@obe1978
8 ZiB (9,444,732,965,739,290,427,392 bytes) is the limit given that we use GPT (GUID partition table) and not anachronistic MBR here.

The largest 2.5″ HDD available today is a 5TB one so the above 8 ZiB are just almost 2 billion times more. Let’s talk again in 2 decades.

Really, since FriendlyELEC chose to use an USB3 chip here (even if only used with USB2 data speed) it’s ensured that we’re not running into the last challenging disk size limitation due to 32 bit limitations: 2 TiB http://www.tldp.org/HOWTO/Large-Disk-HOWTO-4.html