Raspberry Pi CM4 carrier board comes with 5x SATA, 4x GbE, 2x HDMI, RS-485 interfaces

We just wrote that Wiretrustee carrier board for Raspberry Pi CM4 with four SATA interfaces was canceled and made open-source hardware a few days ago, but the Axzez Interceptor carrier board is offering a solution that is somewhat similar with 5x SATA ports and designed for NAS, NVR, IoT, and Managed Switch applications.

The Interceptor Carrier Board for Raspberry Pi CM4 notably includes two 4Kp60 capable HDMI ports, 5x SATA ports, 4x RJ45 Gigabit Ethernet ports, 4x USB 2.0 interfaces, RS-485, and is powered via an ATX-24 connector, with a Mini-ITX adapter in the works.

Axzez Interceptor specifications:

  • Compatible SoM –  Raspberry Pi Compute Module 4
  • Storage
    • Support for 5x SATA HDD/SSD via JMicron JMB585 PCIe to SATA controller
    • Supports software RAID 0, 1, 5, 6 or 10
    • HDD sleep/standby
  • Video Output – 2x full-size HDMI 2.0 connectors (4Kp60)
  • Networking – 4x Gigabit Ethernet ports via Realtek RTL8367RB switch; programable VLAN
  • USB – 4x USB 2.0 interfaces including 2x USB Type-A ports, 2x USB via 9-pin header
  • Serial – RS-485 port via terminal block
  • Expansion – 2x 40-pin FFC connectors for future expansion (No details yet)
  • Misc
    • RV3028 real-time clock with battery backup (3V CR2032)
    • 3-pin fan connector
    • 8-pin header for system power LED, power button, and UART serial cable
  • Power Supply – Standard 24-pin ATX power supply connector

There will be some bottlenecks in this board just like with other Raspberry Pi CM4 designed for NAS, as the five SATA ports are going through a single 5 Gbps PCIe interface, and the four Gigabit Ethernet ports are connected through the Gigabit Ethernet MAC of the Broadcom BCM2711 processor.

Axzez provides a Raspberry Pi OS “Bullseye” image with all necessary drivers which can be downloaded from the company’s website. If you don’t like downloading a random OS image from the Internet, the company offers their kernel, modules, overlay, and software config, but for some reason, you’d need to contact them by email to acquire those. You can also ask further questions on their forum if needed.

I understand this is the first board from the company, and Axzez is taking pre-orders for the Interceptor carrier board for $99 with shipping scheduled to start in February.

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27 Replies to “Raspberry Pi CM4 carrier board comes with 5x SATA, 4x GbE, 2x HDMI, RS-485 interfaces”

  1. This looks like a nice design. I’m sure the goal isn’t necessarily to use all I/Os at once, but for those looking for cheap 4-port routers or firewalls, it can get the job down, and for those looking for solutions allowing to have cheap storage, it works as well. Want to make a video server. Ditto. The price is decent enough that you don’t feel like you’re wasting your money on tons of unused stuff.

    I continue to think that the CM4 might be the smartest product that RPi has ever created because it allows their users to redefine how they want to use their products without having to suffer from a 10-years old obsolete layout nor to deal with all the trouble of routing their own motherboards with DDR timing issues and such. At least here it’s clear that the design of this board differs quite a bit form an RPi4B 🙂 Ideally a future CM-something ought to have more PCIe lanes so that more ideas are permitted. Or they ought to redefine RPi5’s layout to natively offer more high-speed connectivity.

    1. I agree completely. It’s nice to see that someone actually offers more than a single SATA port and that SATA is not connected via some USB interface!
      Did you get your CX LX2 yet ? -I just ordered mine, will be here in a couple of months. 🙂

      1. Yes I received them! It took 5 months for them to arrive (they were missing a connector, never knew which one),
        and they never notified me when sending it despite them saying every month “stop asking, we’ll notify you”. And DHL didn’t have my phone number to contact me to pay the VAT, and was waiting for me to contact them… But the boards are worth the trouble. They are impressively clean, well designed, and quite powerful. You’ll see that setting the board up requires some efforts (EFI boot loader etc). It’s possible to use a large heat sink and a very slow fan to make them silent. Contact me offline once you get it and I’ll pass you some links on this (one day I’ll write an article but that’s extremely time-consuming).

        1. I’ll try sending you an email. You probably have the shortest email address I’ve ever come across. =)

  2. > the company offers their kernel, modules, overlay, and software config, but for some reason, you’d need to contact them by email

    As if some magic would be involved 🙁

    JMB585 is known to work (obviously you need SATA/AHCI in your kernel).

    The only two issues I see with this board is not the ‘single PCIe Gen2 lane’ bottleneck (totally OK for spinning rust) but the missing heatsink mounting holes around the SATA controller and the price.

    1. You are correct, the JMB585 is supported upstream, but the RTL8367RB is not. We have integrated the realtek/swconfig drivers from openwrt into the official pi kernel to enable switch/VLAN config. I believe there is currently an effort to get a DSA driver mainlined for this switch. We will post the source code/patches on our website before the first boards are sent out.

      Our bullseye image also features other customizations like a boot menu to enable booting to the filesystems on the SATA drives. All of this will be open-sourced.

      The JMB585 has an epad and the heat is dissipated through the ground plane. Additionally we have exposed a pad on the bottom of the board, but in our testing a heatsink was not necessary.

      1. > the RTL8367RB is not

        Ah, ok. But if I only want a dumb switch (‘NAS at home’ use case) I don’t need any DSA drivers? Or in other words: in which state do the switch ports come up without any configuration?

        Also thank you for the thermal info, I hope you tested potential data corruption issues with ‘checksummed’ filesystems under full load already?

        1. Correct, if you don’t use any driver for the switch, it will just act as a normal dumb switch. We will post our thermal testing in Jeff Geerling’s github issue.

          1. Thanks for your replies here. The RTC seems like a bit of a throwback; how long ’til energy harvesters of one kind or another, MEMS clock witchery, or NTP in boot can k.o. that battery on board real estate?

            Also…RS-485 would be twisted pair serial like in POS networks? …what about MIPI, is that it on the white connectors on the left?

          2. We originally set out to make the Interceptor for a different market, but then decided to split up the full board to allow it to be used by enthusiasts and tinkerers. In our original market the RTC is necessary for those that are on an isolated network and may not be able to take advantage of NTP.

            Yes on the RS-485. No MIPI. The white connectors on the left are for future expansion, which hasn’t been announced yet as it is still under testing.

  3. Just wondering, if the included RTL8367 switch capable of running VLANs? ( and configurable easily in Linux? ) or whats the purpose of running a switch on the only network port??

    1. Yes, we have integrated the openwrt drivers to enable VLAN config. In additional, there are two expansion ports that connect to the RTL8367. We hope to announce the expansion board next month.

        1. Hello Jens Bauer. Would you please tell me what browser you are using? We are hosted by Wix.com, so we’re not doing anything special. I’ve tested the site on just about every browser and OS out there and haven’t had any issues, so I’m a bit surprised.

          1. Sure. I’m using Firefox 28 (“Nightly”) on Mac OS X 10.6.8.
            Note: I am unable to install any later version of Mac OS X.
            The latest official version of Firefox is 24.
            Though I could mention a lot of other browsers, it would probably not be fair to ask you to support them. 😉
            Firefox 28 should not require too many changes to support.

      1. Good move on using the JMB585; that’s what I’d have done, this allows a high sustained throughput and supports JMB575 port-multipliers (easily attaches up to 75 drives, which might be a bit crazy, but it’s good to go crazy sometimes).

        I’d like to know if the four GbE ports are connected via a single switch or if one of them is isolated from the others.
        My concern is, if one wants to use this board for making a firewall, during startup of the SBC, traffic will go straight through from the WAN to the LAN (making the LAN publicly visible).
        This problem exists in several boads (including BananaPi and EspressoBin), which is why I do not use any of those boards as routers.

        Personally I don’t need the HDMI ports, but you definitely did the right thing, choosing full-size HDMI.

          1. Uhm, yes, …
            “four Gigabit Ethernet ports are connected through the Gigabit Ethernet MAC of the Broadcom BCM2711 processor”
            … however there’s still a chance this can be used as a router, if the switch is turned on by the Linux driver and not on powering up the board.
            -I’m not holding my breath though – but at least the board can be used for a NAS.

        1. Why would there be a switch fabric that isn’t the CM? Good on you thinking there are Bluetooth and other low power wireless fabric to service somewhere though ….I guess there are hats that stay away from the heatsink bits…? All down to who wants WiFi6E antenna hobby wizardry (well, maybe not the tomography) and who wants a network of mass registering terra cotta flooring, or where.

          1. I don’t use any wireless anywhere in my home.
            The ISP’s box has an 8P8C connector, which I plug into my router/firewall, but thought it might be worth replacing that with the Raspi.
            … One can of course solder 4 relays in series with the 4 wire-pairs connected to the WAN, to flick it on/off programmatically; that way, it can ensure that there’s no direct access to the LAN from the WAN while the switch is ‘booting’.. 😉

  4. Q1. I read you will make public and open src your intergration. However is this sufiicient so I can compile the new kernals as they come out, or will we need to potential change the code of the driver to support new versions of the kernel in general.

    Q2. Interms of the RPI kernel will you get the RTL8367RB added to thier “main line”. if you can not get it into linux mainline?

    Q3. You seem to suggest that with a current generic kernal (eg lets say rasberry pi OS one 5.10.82 or greater) without any addition driver/hacking of config etc etc RTL8367RB will just work as a dumb switch, so i can just plug say 4 other devices in and they can all talk to each other as normal over 1 gig net and to your board. In other words the board can be seen as having a built in 5 port switch with one port directly wired to CM4 ethernet interface on the board?

    Q4. Can the unit boot from/off the network? (I am guessing not, but if the switch acts dumb from power up… maybe)

    Sorry to ask what might seem obvious questios, I just don’t want to order a board and it not work with generic kernels (ie 5.15.82 and newer), assuming I do not need the “advanced managed switch functions and am happy with a dump switch instead. I intend to use it as a basic NAS and docker server, supporting diskless RPIs etc.

    Kind regards
    RT

    1. Just a note on all this, if the board becomes popular, this can accelerate mainlining of the missing drivers. Maybe that will not be compatible with your expected usage time frame but it could be possible that in a few months from now all these points are properly addressed since they sound like quite reasonable expectations.

      1. Currently this board works with mainline, with the exception that without the rtl8367rb driver you will not get advanced switch config, like VLAN config. We plan on maintaining our patch with newer kernels, until no longer needed.
      2. The latest kernel release (5.16) includes a new driver for the rtl8365mb, and in theory it should be easy to adapt this for the rtl8367rb. The openwrt driver we use will not be upstreamed because it uses swconfig and not the preferred DSA.
      3. Correct
      4. PXE boot should work, but I have not tested it.
    1. The first production round has already gone out to customers and most have received their boards. The second production round should still arrive by the end of March. There was a COVID outbreak in Shenzhen, China that may have an effect on delivery, but we don’t yet know. We’re still hoping the boards go out this coming Friday (to us) and then we’ll send them out after fully testing here (in Indiana).

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