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Thread: [Interest check] low-cost XScale 4 port S-ATA NAS/router

  1. #1
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    [Interest check] low-cost XScale 4 port S-ATA NAS/router

    Lots of the users here on this forum are using their WL-500g or WL-500gx router for Network Attached Storage (NAS) on their LAN. Probably most of them have come to the conclusion that their router doesn't have the umph to be used seriously for storing movies and that sort of stuff. The WL-HDD and the Linksys NSLU2 offer slightly better performance but have only one ethernet port and are also not performing as you might expect from a NAS device.

    Well, I think I might have found a 'solution' for those who want wire speed (100Mbit) access to their data: The NPWR-LC.

    The NPWR-LC is a single board computer (SBC) featuring a fast XScale (ARM ISA) processor, two 100Mbit ethernet ports and four Serial ATA (SATA) ports.

    This effectively means you can use the NPWR-LC as a router but also as a NAS device capable of serving more than a terabyte of data to your network at high speeds! And when you think it's expensive your're wrong, it's not. It costs only $115 when ordered in large quantities (100+).

    I guess by now you think: 'wow, I want one, but what's the catch?' Well, there are three catches:
    1) The company who created the NPWR-LC only sells in large quantities (100+) and only to other businesses.
    2) Unlike the usual consumer stuff, the device comes as a plain board. No UFO shaped space enclosures like the Asus routers, you'll have to buy (or build) an enclosure yourself. It also has no memory, so you'll have to buy an extra SO-DIMM (notebook) memory module.
    3) Because it's not an consumer product it probably hasn't got a neat webinterface like the Asus routers do, so there's quite a lot to be done to get all the neat stuff working.

    This means the NPWR-LC isn't interesting for anyone not willing to invest time in it. In my opinion it's like an uncut diamond.

    Now, are you still interested even when you've read the con's too? If so, there's some interesting info on Linux Devices.

    With this post I wan't to determine what other ppl are thinking about this, so I'm asking for your feedback. If enough ppl express interest in buying one, I can make arrangements to aquire a batch of 100 pieces and redistribute them. Also, if someone knows of another product which can deliver the same (or better) key features of this product please respond here...
    Last edited by Styno; 03-06-2005 at 09:40.

  2. #2
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    I prefer to wait for the Asus WL-700g

  3. #3
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    Ok, fair enough. Thanks!

  4. #4
    I think it's not interesting. Why use serial-ATA disks on a 100 Mbps lan ? The speed is still limited to 12,5MBytes/s and then you can't use the full speed of SATA which isn't cheaper than IDE. I think I will wait the asus wl700g too.

  5. #5
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    Tophius, thanks for your input.

    Quote Originally Posted by tophinus
    I think it's not interesting. Why use serial-ATA disks on a 100 Mbps lan ? The speed is still limited to 12,5MBytes/s and then you can't use the full speed of SATA which isn't cheaper than IDE. I think I will wait the asus wl700g too.
    I can ask you the same: Why use an IDE drive on 100Mbps lan? So, that's not questionable here imho.

    Serial ATA is interesting because:
    - The bigger SATA drives are often cheaper then their IDE counterparts (at least here in the Netherlands).
    - They are getting easier available then IDE.
    - SATA is the future for harddisks. I wouldn't recommend buying an IDE drive to anyone anymore.

    Regarding the WL-700g, let's hope it doesn't turn out to be a 3.5" variant of the WL-HDD: The slow processor prohibits the WL-HDD to reach wire speed transfers. It also doesn't provide the opportunity to hook up 4 drives. At best it will support 2...but then again they will probably not fit in the enclosure.

  6. #6
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    ..so why don't you buy a Buffalo Terastation...Gigabit Lan, RaidL5..Linux..hacked..fast PPC...ready to go out of the Box...cost ca. 640 Euro in germany for the 0,6TB Modell
    Last edited by petgun; 03-06-2005 at 16:04.

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    Quote Originally Posted by petgun
    ..so why don't you buy a Buffalo Terastation...Gigabit Lan, RaidL5..Linux..hacked..fast PPC...ready to go out of the Box...cost ca. 640 Euro in germany for the 0,6TB Modell
    Hmm, I hadn't seen that one before. Looks interesting for a pure NAS solution.

    Globally compared to the NPWR-LC:
    Pro's:
    Gigabit LAN
    Complete box, no additional enclosure and RAM needed. Also has complete webinterface
    USB 2.0 ports

    Con's:
    It doesn't have a second LAN port, so it won't be able to do routing.
    It doesn't have mini-pci for WLAN.
    Still uses the legacy IDE interface.
    Price, a complete NPWR-LC with 4 160GB drives (0.6 TB) would cost around 200 + 4 * 80 = 520 euro. (However I must admit the terastation' pretty cheap for a NAS)

    Edit: I've done some searching and this NAS performs on par with the LinkSys NSLU2 (3.5MB/s write, 4.5 MB/s read), so the Gigabit capabilities are useless here...You can safely say that the performance of this NAS sucks
    Last edited by Styno; 03-06-2005 at 16:57.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Styno
    ...I've done some searching and this NAS performs on par with the LinkSys NSLU2 (3.5MB/s write, 4.5 MB/s read), so the Gigabit capabilities are useless here...You can safely say that the performance of this NAS sucks
    ;-) I'm sure the Terastation is much faster than the values you have posted..read the c't-Magazin. If you need detailed infos how to hack/details/hardware for the Terastation take a look here http://www.terastation.org/wiki/Main_Page
    I owned a 200MHz PPC based Buffalo Linkstation which was more than twice faster as a NSLU2 and the Terastation has a 266 MHz PPC.

    cu,
    peter

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by petgun
    ;-) I'm sure the Terastation is much faster than the values you have posted..read the c't-Magazin. If you need detailed infos how to hack/details/hardware for the Terastation take a look here http://www.terastation.org/wiki/Main_Page
    I owned a 200MHz PPC based Buffalo Linkstation which was more than twice faster as a NSLU2 and the Terastation has a 266 MHz PPC.
    Ok, I've done some more searching and reading and I'm getting some mixed feelings here.

    Tom's networking tested it and using a gigabit connection it is able to push 100 Mbit/s onto the wire. It's only a tenth of what real gigabit can do, but at least it's way better then the NSLU2 (about 2 to 3 times).

    But there are a lot of ppl reporting poor performance:
    Tom's Networking
    CNET 1
    CNET 2
    Storage review
    and more...

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Styno
    It's only a tenth of what real gigabit can do, but at least it's way better then the NSLU2 (about 2 to 3 times)...
    ok, maybe that's true, but I'm sure it's hard to find a faster _NAS-Device_ BTW the upcoming Buffalo Linkstation (now again with PPC not MIPS) will also have a Gigabit Lan.

  11. #11
    Originally Posted by Styno
    Serial ATA is interesting because:
    - The bigger SATA drives are often cheaper then their IDE counterparts (at least here in the Netherlands).
    - They are getting easier available then IDE.
    - SATA is the future for harddisks. I wouldn't recommend buying an IDE drive to anyone anymore.
    This is not the case in France. IDE disks are always cheaper and much available than SATA drives. But, I agree than SATA is the future.

    In my search for NAS solutions, i found some informations :
    - Gigabit lan is limited to 50Mbytes per second if you use a category6 cable. To use the full speed, you must have a optical fibre as cable. here is one of the url where i found the informations : http://www.nokytech.net/forum/archiv...p/t-19117.html (sorry, it's in French and I don't found the others one)
    - With a linux system, USB storage speed is 20Mbytes/s in the best best case. (This is the reason for me than I prefer IDE with 100Mb LAN). I will search further the web page with this info
    - A wireless solution is deprecated. A 54Mbps wifi gives a transfer rate of 24,7Mbps. Even the 54 Mbps with afterburner is not insteresting. In this last case, your rate is 34,1 Mbps. Here is the address of my info : http://www.hp.com/united-states/wire..._download.html

    So, I think everyone must consider this infos when he wants to set a NAS system on his LAN.

  12. #12

    Red face

    Quote Originally Posted by tophinus
    This is not the case in France. IDE disks are always cheaper and much available than SATA drives. But, I agree than SATA is the future.
    This all depends on what level you are talking about ,
    when you want to use your device as a 24/7 up storage box. You have to take in account that IDE or SATA isnt the best optioin.

    Both do share the same limits when compared to SCSI.
    SCSI has a MTBF of 3 duty cycles (24/7 365 days a year)

    (S)ATA has a MTBF of 20% of 3 dutycycles thats a lot less.
    SATA is nice but it lacks a lot of features that makes SCSI fast and reliable.

    Greetz
    Last edited by msa1500; 09-06-2005 at 20:36.

  13. #13
    when you want to use your device as a 24/7 up storage box. You have to take in account that IDE or SATA isnt the best optioin.
    I also think that SCSI is the best solution for such a system but IDE and SATA are really cheaper than SCSI, regarding the capacity of the disks. So for a personal use, I think that IDE (or SATA if it's cheaper than IDE in your land) is more interesting for common people.
    Furthermore, even is SCSI is faster, you are still limited with LAN rate (I hope you understand my bad english ). So I don't think SCSI isn't the better solution for a NAS at home but it is in a professional case.
    SCSI has a MTBF of 3 duty cycles (24/7 365 days a year)
    (S)ATA has a MTBF of 20% of 3 dutycycles thats a lot less.
    Excuse me for my lack of vocabulary but what is MTBF ? Can you explain a bit, please ?

  14. #14
    Quote Originally Posted by tophinus
    Excuse me for my lack of vocabulary but what is MTBF ? Can you explain a bit, please ?
    Mean Time Between Failure (of the device)

  15. #15
    Quote Originally Posted by tophinus
    Excuse me for my lack of vocabulary but what is MTBF ? Can you explain a bit, please ?
    Mean Time Between Failure :

    It all has something to do with statistics , this number gives you an idea how long a component will function without failure.
    But theres more :

    Lets say i have a disk with a mtbf of 1000000 hours.
    so when i hook up one such disk theres a high probablity that the disk will fail within 1 mil hours. (99.8%). But when i hook up 200 disks within one array. The array will have a mtbf of 1000000/200 = 5000 hours , so there's a high probability that one disk will fail within 5000 hours of operation (99.8 % )

    This is all to give you an impression what this mtbf means.
    It doesnt mean that a disk will actually fail within 5000 hours.

    Greetz

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