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Odroid-HC4 toaster NAS runs dual PCIe-driven SATA drives

Oct 20, 2020 — by Eric Brown — 3400 views

Hardkernel is prepping an open-spec, $65 to $75 “Odroid-HC4” NAS device that runs Linux on a quad -A55 Amlogic S905X3 and offers dual PCIe-driven 2.5- or 3.5-inch slots for SSDs or HDDs plus HDMI 2.0 and 4GB DDR4.

In 2018, Hardkernel updated its Odroid-HC1 network-attached storage (NAS) board with an Odroid-HC2 model that added support for 3.5-inch drives in addition to 2.5-inch. On Oct. 27, Hardkernel will launch an Odroid-HC4 that switches to a more powerful Amlogic S905X3 processor and adds a second SATA slot. For the first time, the SATA slots are enabled via PCIe instead of USB, thereby providing faster and more reliable operation. Hardkernel’s benchmarks using an SSD show “iozone” transfer speeds of 390-420MB/s.



Odroid-HC4 with dual HDDs with optional OLED display (left) and the HC4 with empty slots (warning: do not stick fork in toaster)
(click images to enlarge)

Like the HC1 and HC2, the Odroid-HC4 is an open-spec board that runs Linux. It is similarly designed to let users share and stream multimedia files to mobile and desktop devices with support for multiple users. The device is similarly available with a standard enclosure, in this case using a pop-up, translucent toaster form factor instead of a stackable metal frame.


Odroid-HC2

While the Odroid-HC1 and -HC2 use headless variations of the Odroid-XU4 SBC based on an octa-core Cortex-A15 and -A7 Samsung Exynos5422, the Odroid-HC4 is based on a new, 90.5 x 84 x 25mm PCB design that taps the same Amlogic S905X3 found on its Odroid-C4 SBC. In this case the 4x Cortex-A55 cores on the S905X3 are clocked at 1.8GHz instead of up to 2.0GHz to keep things running cooler.

The 12nm fabricated SoC also offers a Mali-G31 MP2 GPU. Unlike with the HC1 and HC2, Hardkernel is making use the GPU, offering an HDMI 2.0 port with audio and up to [email protected] support.

The Odroid-HC4 is equipped with 4GB DDR4 — twice the capacity of the HC2 — plus a UHS-1 compatible micro-SD slot. There are USB 2.0 and GbE ports, as well as an IR receiver, LEDs, a bootswitch, and a serial console interface for debug. Seven GPIO pins can drive an optional OLED display available, which is available along with an RTC in a $75 Odroid-HC4-Plus package.



Odroid-HC4 with heatsink (left) and block diagram
(click images to enlarge)

Either SATA slot supports SSDs or HDDs. With the help of Linux LVM or mdadm Soft-RAID, users can also combine the two disks in RAID 0, RAID 1 or optimize I/O “with a large disk using one mechanical drive and an SSD for disk caching,” says Hardkernel.

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Powered by a 14.5-15.5VDC jack, the system can be purchased with an optional 15V/4A PSU. The HC4 operates at about 15.59W under active use, 5.88W under idle, and 0.29W with suspend.

The standard packages include a small heatsink and a 5V, 4,000-RPM fan that operates at 23.9 dBA. Accessories include a remote control, WiFi/BT adapters, cables, and Odroid-Vu series display devices.



Odroid-HC4 PCB, front and back
(click images to enlarge)

The Odroid-HC4, which we saw on CNXSoft, ships with an Ubuntu 20.04 image based on Linux 4.9.230, or optionally mainline Linux 5.8+. Hardkernel will add support for CoreELEC, OMV and Android in the coming weeks. The system supports Petitboot, a Linux kexec based bootloader with flexible booting options including microSD, SSD, and HDD.

 
Further information

The Odroid-HC4 will launch on Oct. 27 for $65, including the pre-assembled case shell. The Odroid-HC4-Plus with RTC and OLED will be priced at $75. More information may be found in Hardkernel’s announcement, product page, and wiki.
 

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3 responses to “Odroid-HC4 toaster NAS runs dual PCIe-driven SATA drives”

  1. Ducksworth says:

    Pretty and cool. I hope they keep the clear case with the release.

  2. chip says:

    I hope they make a proper version with cable connectors and fixed disks instead; otherwise, be prepared to data losses.
    The SATA connector is a poorly engineered piece of hardware that is guaranteed for dozens of insertion/removal operations; that means a NAS device allowing continuous disk swaps will likely destroy your data in a matter of months. I’d rather pay more for a board with 4-5 SATA cable connectors, not unlike the Helios64 which, high price tag aside, probably also due to the pandemic is still unobtanium.

  3. Mike says:

    Are the drives hot swappable? If you pull a drive and replace it with new one will it reformat and adopt it?

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