Building a DIY ARM Network Attached Storage (NAS) solution

Jeff Geerling has published an interesting tutorial revealing how he has built a Network Attached Storage (NAS) system that balances power efficiency with strong performance can be a highly satisfying endeavor. At the heart of such a system, is a ASRock Rack ALTRAD8UD-1L2T Motherboard . This motherboard is energized by an Ampere CPU that boasts 32 cores, similar to those used in AWS Graviton processors. This combination is particularly appealing for those who are somewhat familiar with technology and are eager to construct a dependable NAS setup.

The ASRock Rack motherboard is designed with a “deep microATX” form factor, which provides more room for additional components than a standard microATX board. This extra space is crucial for a NAS that needs to be both expandable and efficient. The motherboard’s 2U cooler is tailor-made to keep the Ampere Ultra Q32 CPU at the ideal temperature, ensuring the system runs smoothly and lasts a long time.

When it comes to a NAS, the variety of ways it can connect to other devices is key to its success. The ASRock Rack motherboard comes with a suite of connectivity options, including PCIe slots for expansion cards, DDR4 RAM slots, SAS and Oculink connectors for different storage devices, M.2 slots for SSDs, and 10 Gigabit Ethernet ports for fast network connections. These features allow you to customize your NAS to meet your specific requirements, making sure it can grow and adapt as needed.

How to build an ARM NAS

The NAS will be equipped with 64GB of DDR4 ECC RAM, which helps maintain data accuracy by correcting errors. For the system’s boot drive, a Kioxia XG8 NVMe SSD has been chosen for its speed and dependability. The storage capacity is impressive, combining six 20TB Seagate Exos drives with four 8TB Samsung SSDs, offering over 150TB of total storage space.

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For the NAS’s housing, the HL5 chassis from 45Drives has been selected for its exceptional quality. Although it comes at a premium, the chassis is expected to provide lasting durability, making it a worthwhile investment. The motherboard, while intended for enterprise use, is a cost-effective option when compared to typical enterprise solutions, offering a good balance between price and performance.

The installation begins with mounting the motherboard inside the HL5 chassis. Next, you’ll connect the power supply, which is essential for providing consistent power to all the components. Then, you install the RAM and the cooling solutions, including the 2U cooler for the CPU.

Once the system is powered on for the first time, it’s crucial to troubleshoot to ensure that the RAM is detected properly and that the system boots without issues. With these steps confirmed, you’ll move on to install Rocky Linux, an operating system compatible with ARM64, which sets the foundation for your NAS.

This guide has provided a walkthrough for creating an ARM-based NAS that is not only power-efficient but also robust and versatile. It offers a wide range of connectivity options and a significant amount of storage capacity. Stay tuned for a follow-up article where the network storage performance of this build will be evaluated in detail.

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