Wednesday, December 8

Creating a NAS with a Raspberry Pi is a nice idea: spend $ 5,000 on that server, not so much


The Raspberry Pi have made versatility an art. These miniPCs can be applied to a multitude of environments and scenarios, but now a user has wanted to explore a unique option: to create a NAS that could also behave as a router for your home environment.

The idea is certainly feasible and there have already been similar approaches, but this user has gone further and $ 5,000 has been spent to end up discovering (or rather, confirming) that the Raspberry Pi ends up being limited by its own processor.

Asking for pears from the elm

Jeff Geerling is already an old acquaintance of this type of project, and in 2019 he published for example a comparison with the best microSD cards to use in the Raspberry Pi. His last idea was something more ambitious, and with it he wanted create a NAS that you spent a ton of money on storage drives.

I buy five 8-TB Samsung 870 QVO SATA SSD drives and a Sabrent M-2 SSD drive also with 8 TB of capacity to make up a system with a total of 48 TB of storage capacity.

This user then connected all these units to a product of the company Radxa called Taco, which is nothing more than a Raspberry Pi Compute Module 4 with those slots to connect storage drives.

After using the ZFS file system – very popular in this type of scenario – Geerling began testing the system with different RAID configurations and found that its PCIe Gen 2.0 lanes did not offer as much bandwidth as would be desirable and they ended up being a bottleneck for Sabrent’s lightning-fast unit.

Nor did the limited CPU of the Raspberry Pi help, which is solvent for many projects but cannot give more of itself when one wants to take advantage of it for more ambitious challenges like this. In fact, even though Radxa’s nifty board has support for 2.5G Ethernet networks, that CPU is again a bottleneck for the entire transfer system, and performance is doomed with an impossible bottleneck in the RPi.

This user actually recommended using Radxa’s Taco board with slower SSD drives and even with traditional hard drives, something that would allow the RPi’s CPU to saturate the network connections and take advantage of the read and write rates of those storage media. However, it is not the ideal choice if one is looking to use high-performance SSDs.

More information | Jeff Geerling



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