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Open-spec NAS SBC with 4x SATA 3.0 ports relaunches

Jul 17, 2018 — by Eric Brown 11,860 views

Kobol has relaunched its open-spec “Helios4” NAS SBC and fanned system. The Helios4 runs Debian on a Marvell Armada 388 SoC with 2GB ECC RAM and offers 1x GbE, 2x USB 3.0, and 4x SATA 3.0 ports for up to 48TB.

In May 2017, Singapore-based startup Kobol attempted to launch its open-spec Helios4 SBC and fan-equipped system for network attached storage (NAS) on Kickstarter. A total of 337 backers ponied up $74K for the Helios4, which also supports media streaming and file sharing. Kobol fell short of its $110K funding goal, but it fulfilled the last of its KS orders in January. The company is now running its own funding campaign to manufacture a second 500-unit batch.

Helios4 Personal Cloud SBC and case
(click image to enlarge)

Kobol no longer offers the low early bird prices of the KS campaign, but pricing is otherwise the same as the standard 2GB RAM packages. (The 1GB packages are no longer available.) There’s a Helios4 Basic Kit (SBC only) for $176.12 and a Full Kit with SBC, fans, and 4x SATA bays for $194.46. Both ship with 2GB of DDR3L ECC RAM.

So far, the Full Kit is half funded while the Basic Kit has drawn little interest. Kobol says that it will refund the money if the campaign doesn’t reach its 500-unit goal by Aug. 5. Shipments are due in October.


The 100 x 100mm Helios4 SBC is equipped with the Marvell Armada 388, a dual Cortex-A9, 1.6GHz SoC with cryptographic and XOR DMA engines. The Armada 388 and 2GB of error-correcting DDR3L are made available via a SolidRun MicroSoM A388. This Linux-ready module was originally announced as the 38x-MicroSoM and is also referred to by Kobol as the A38x MicroSoM.

Helios4 mainboard (left) and SolidRun’s MicroSoM 388
(click images to enlarge)

The Helios4 SBC provides 4x SATA 3.0 ports, 4x SATA cables and 2x Molex interfaces “to dual SATA power cable.” The design enables up to 48TB storage. The SBC is further equipped with 2x USB 3.0 ports, a full-duplex “true” GbE port, a microSD slot, and a mini-USB-to-serial port for console.

Other features include I2C, GPIO, control panel, and PWM fan headers. A DC jack connects to 12V/8A adapter, and there are HDD power connectors and a reset button.

Helios4 mainboard detail
(click image to enlarge)

The Full Kit adds a translucent case, an assembly kit, and 2x 70mm PWM ball bearing fans. Schematics and mechanical specs are available for the Helios4 hardware, and “simplified” schematics can be downloaded for the MicroSoM A388 module.

The SBC is supported by Armbian Linux distro which provides Debian and Ubuntu based images. The latest release are Armbian Strech (Debian) and Armbian Bionic (Ubuntu) with Linux Kernel 4.14. As before, you can also download the Armbian-based OpenMediaVault NAS stack.

A recent blog post noted that contributors are working on the following Helios4 projects:

  • Kernel and U-Boot upstream support (Dennis Gilmore)
  • FreeBSD support (Josua Mayer)
  • OpenWRT support (Sascha Paunovic)

Further information

The 2nd Batch of the Helios4 SBC Basic Kit and Full Kit system are available for crowdfunding on Kobol’s website for $176.12 and $194.46, respectively. Assuming Kobol meets its goals by Aug. 5, systems will ship in October. More information may be found on Kobol’s relaunch announcement, as well as the Basic Kit and Full Kit crowdfunding/shopping pages. There’s also a Helios4 wiki.

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3 responses to “Open-spec NAS SBC with 4x SATA 3.0 ports relaunches”

  1. hex says:

    any gpu?

  2. gprovost says:

    Helios4 is a pure headless system. No video output. Helios4 is made to be peer with other Pi-like boards or smart tv to play your content over the network.

  3. John S says:

    I wish it had less SATA ports and more memory, so it would make a great node for a glusterfs or lustre cluster node.

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