Radxa's SATA HAT makes compact Pi 5 NAS

Radxa's latest iteration of its Penta SATA HAT has been retooled to work with the Raspberry Pi 5.

Radxa Penta SATA HAT for Raspberry Pi 5 with a Pi mug

The Pi 5 includes a PCIe connector, which allows the SATA hat to interface directly via a JMB585 SATA to PCIe bridge, rather than relying on the older Dual/Quad SATA HAT's SATA-to-USB-to-PCIe setup.

Does the direct PCIe connection help? Yes.

Is the Pi 5 noticeably faster than the Pi 4 for NAS applications? Yes.

Radxa Penta SATA HAT installed on Pi 5 with Drives next to it

Is the Pi 5 + Penta SATA HAT the ultimate low-power NAS solution? Maybe.

It's more compelling than the Pi 4 was and could fit your use case—even accounting for the Pi 5's slightly higher price points.

I ran through the entire process of setting up and testing the Penta SATA HAT in today's video:

But I'll also summarize some of my key findings:

  • If you want all the test data and notes, check out my GitHub issue testing the Radxa Penta SATA HAT on Pi 5. There's an exhaustive benchmarking process through which I discovered macOS Finder is terrible for network share performance.
  • Having the HAT distribute 12V power to the drives and manage power delivery to the Pi 5's 5V rail via GPIO is very handy. You don't need two power supplies (one for HAT/drives and one for Pi) with this setup.
  • I had to break off three little fins on the official Pi Active Cooler to make room for the 12V barrel plug on the underside of the HAT. It would be nice if Radxa revised the board to not require this modification.
  • I tested an array of 4 Samsung QVO 8TB SSDs in RAID 0, and could get nearly 900 MB/sec at PCIe Gen 3 directly on the Pi.
  • I was only able to write through Samba over the 1 Gbps built-in Ethernet connection around 96 MB/sec (with a 100 GB test folder) from my Mac — read speeds were consistently maxing it out at 122 MB/sec, and on Windows I could get 115 MB/sec write speeds.
  • I installed openmediavault 7, which worked great with ZFS, but was missing standard RAID configuration options—possibly because I had separately installed mdadm in my testing? I would love to try TrueNAS Scale, but it sounds like iXsystems isn't interested in porting it to Arm.
  • ZFS in RAIDZ1 gave me lower network write speeds around 74 MB/sec from my Mac, and 108 MB/sec on my PC, but read speeds were still maxing out the network connection
  • I installed a Pineberry Pi HatBRICK! Commander and HatNET! 2.5G for 2.5 Gbps networking, and it worked without issue, though it would be nice to find a better way to get things stacked up:

Radxa Penta SATA HAT on Pi 5 with 2.5G Networking

Using that setup, I could consistently get 230 MB/sec read speeds over the network, but writes were still bottlenecked around 100 MB/sec on my Mac. It's not easy to pin down the problem on my Mac, but on Windows 11, it was consistently giving me 150 MB/sec, so it's not the Pi's fault.

With the PCIe Gen 2 switch in the way, storage and networking are both downgraded to Gen 2 speeds, which results in the bottleneck preventing faster write speeds. You could get a little faster with RAID 0, since you wouldn't need to write parity data, but that's not recommended for most network storage use cases!

Item Price
Raspberry Pi 5 (8GB) $80
Radxa Penta SATA HAT $45
12V 5A Power Adapter $10
32GB microSD Card $12
TOTAL $147

My conclusion? The Pi 5 + Penta SATA HAT is most useful for read-heavy environments, but works great for any basic NAS use case. All-in, spending $150 or less on a small, energy-efficient NAS (this setup used 6-8W at idle, and 10-16W under load) isn't the worst way to build DIY network storage.

I also really wish Raspberry Pi included 2.5 Gbps networking out of the box... the RP1 chip certainly has the bandwidth, but it seems like more was allocated to the DSI/CSI imaging pipeline and multiple USB 3.0/2.0 buses than networking, for this go-round.

Radxa will hopefully sell a case and fan control board at some point, to make this a more robust solution, but those aren't available currently.

Comments

A number of comments on YouTube suggested I test out a USB 3 2.5G Ethernet adapter. So I plugged in my Plugable 2.5G adapter, and tested transfer speeds with a 50 GB folder on Windows 11 and got:

  • 270 MB/sec writes (copy from Windows 11 to Pi 5)
  • 200 MB/sec reads (copy from Pi 5 to Windows 11)

See this comment on GitHub for all the details.

Jeff,

mdadm raid on OMV 7.x was moved to a plugin called openmediavault-md. Install it from the plugins tab.

This is what I’ve been waiting for. Ordered two of the boards and I’ll get some Pi 5s when I get back from travelling. I’ve been wanting to get into 3D modelling so working out a 3D printed case for this will be fun. Preferably something that I can screw an extra fan into and mount the usb ethernet to nicely too.

I'd love to see your case! This would be a fun appliance to put on my desk, but without a case, I'm worried when I mist my plants, I'll fry it. :)

Can one use mechanical disk with this setup as well?

It's a shame to spend more than a grand in SSDs to run them over an underpowered arm chip further bottlenecked by terrible networking, when you could spend 300$ on a intel board with 10GB networking, SFP+, more ram, more compute... etc. If you use spinning disks OTOH this might be an extremely cheap, fairly slow, NAS, but enough to store your media...

You are clearly missing the point. Sure, a GT3RS is the ideal track car, but you can have a lot of fun with an mildly updated MX5. The same analogy applies here.

Where did the ribbon cable come from? I got a standard IPEX cable that isn’t compatible with the smaller PCIE slot on the Pi5.

Still this build loses speed competition to your rig with NVME drives, doesn't it?

What would be easier to build a NAS case for, the X1011 or this? The shapes look more basic I believe.

This setup would be great if only I could find more than a reference to a NAS case in Radxa's wiki.

Does anyone have Radxa's ear? These are not available on Amazon (where I would like to purchase).

I ordered on 9th of April and received the card and accessories on the 16th of May. After the expected delivery time of 7-10 days was exceeded I contacted Arace. They did not respond to my first email but on second contact they assured me the product was going to ship within the next 14 days.
The tracking information supplied was excellent.
I think AraceTech underestimated the volume of orders - especially due to Jeff's excellent PiNas how-to video.
I have been searching for months for availability on the Penta Sata Hat.

Hi, got by mistake the hat for the rock 4.
can't find the spec for the ribbon cable anywhere to connect to the pi 5. is it custom ?

If the max draw you saw was 16w, couldnt you use a lower amperage power supply than the 12v5a?

Technically, yes; though I like to have a little more provision to my PSUs since the immediate power draw can be a little spiky (only visible if you're looking with a scope), and many cheaper PSUs are better used well under their maximum rated output. I could probably get by with a 2-3A PSU on this build, but 4 or 5A makes me feel better.

Did you notice any USB brownouts while powering it from the SATA HAT? I'm waiting for my NAS drives to arrive, so I'm just sort of testing it with cast off hardware, and if I run the Pi+HAT (with one drive)+2.5" USB3 HDD off a 60w brick connected to the HAT, the HDD eventually starts suffering from the click of death, while the SATA drive seems fine. Meanwhile if I power it with the 27w Pi USB-C plug, both the SATA and USB drives are fine, so far. I assume the Radxa power delivery is hitting some kind of limit that's causing USB brownouts.

I saw someone else running theirs with both the pi power and the HAT power connected, but that always feels like risking backfeeding some bump/boost converter or other on one of the boards, and they're too expensive to want to risk that with.

Yeah, and it probably isn't a big deal in normal usage, it might just put a crimp on someone's plans. Although I can't think of any particularly high-draw USB devices that aren't storage, so maybe it's not a big deal, ultimately?

And I found a statement on Radxa's wiki that says to not use two or more power supply methods at the same time, so there's that.

I wonder if you can separate the power supplies by removing the pins from the GPIO extender on the sata hat and if so would this be enough separation of the power to allow both Pi and sata hat to be powered by the respective supplies?

You should be real enthusiast of ARM SBC to spend $150 for this. These money give you n100 or intel 8gen

Jeff, I can't find anything showing all the specs about the 12V power supply and I was wondering if you knew. What diameter plug is required, is it inner positive or outer positive, and what's the max wattage the socket can accept?

Also, I came up with a solution to the barrel jack interfering with the Pi cooler that doesn't require breaking anything. I installed a GPIO riser and then used both the included 18mm standoffs and the 5mm standoffs together to stabilize the Penta SATA Hat. You can't screw the two standoffs completely together, but once everything is tightened down it's not a problem (though 8-9mm standoffs would be better). I used a separate set of standoffs as feet on the bottom. I can send you a photo if it would be useful.

Thanks!

It's a 2.5mm barrel jack with same specs as the one on the CM4 IO Board. I've used up to a 5A power supply, but don't know if it could handle more than that.

Thank you, Jeff! I just looked up the specs for the Pi CM4 IO board and it says "2.1mm DC tip positive +12V" just in case anyone else needs the same info.

I got a little too gungho and bought 5.5mm x 2.1mm barrel jacked DCs after missing the detail on their docs. I don't know why they don't list this directly with their main specs or feature list but you CAN find it on the Raspberry Pi 5 specific page of their docs here.

https://docs.radxa.com/en/accessories/penta-sata-hat/penta-for-rpi5

It is listed at the top of the page under Power Supply Selection.

"Penta SATA HAT is equipped with a DC interface (socket specification is outer diameter 5.5mm, inner diameter 2.5mm, center is positive) and a D-shaped 4PIN interface."

I'm using one of these now with OpenMediaVault as an NFS connected NAS for a ProxMox cluster.. Anyone found a decent case to make this more "shelf friendly"?

Radxa has made their own case design and also features two other community designs at the bottom of their Raspberry Pi 5 specific doc here: https://docs.radxa.com/en/accessories/penta-sata-hat/penta-for-rpi5

I modified their design a bit and had it resin printed with pcbway (wasn't cheap but I wanted to go nice). Modelled and printed a little 40mmx40mmx10mm 5v fan bracket for the top separately (something I'll put on printables soonish) and plugged it into the board.

Photo: https://pasteboard.co/BrcISnelvGOF.jpg

I have a little bit more to do before I'm fully happy with it. Some of the changes I made so I could have it printed were a tad off so I have to file some more down. I also want to see about slowing down the fan a bit to ease on the noise. Other than that, pretty good results and learned a bit along the way. Hope they make the top board available again so I can put that in.

I have question, i have 12volts 6a power supply, the radxa controller is connected without any harddrives i just wanted to test whether it works and whether it will also supply the power for the raspberry pi 5, on the raspberry i have two external harddrives which are connected via usb hub into the one of the usb on the raspberry. When the supply goes from radxa( 12v 6a), the harddrives are not running, just hearing some clicking noise, from them. When the power supply is going from raspberry(its the one that comes with raspberry package) everything is working, can anyone tell me why is that? This power supply that i have for radxa is 72 watts, which way more than the power supply of the raspberry, i didnt try to put both of the supplies, because i dont know whether it will be to much?

I would definitely not try both supplies. It could be the 12V 6A power supply is lying about how much power it actually provides (is it a large brick? Should be a pound or two of weight, since it needs all that circuitry).

But more likely, you need to tell the Pi it can use full USB current. See PSU_MAX_CURRENT. But to easily set this and see if it works:

  1. Edit /boot/firmware/config.txt with nano or some other editor
  2. Add the line usb_max_current_enable=1 at the end and save the file
  3. Reboot your Pi.

Alternatively, use sudo raspi-config and go to option Performance Options > P4 Set USB current limit and set it that way.

Hi Jeff I recently built the pi5 nas and it worked great for about 2 months then all the LED'S started flashing and I can't see it on my network anymore. Does this mean the radxa tophat went bad? I am running it on a 12 volt 8 amp power supply. I have ordered a new top hat and I don't want the same thing to happen. I've tried a new pi 5 still can't see it on the network and if I let it run for 10 min the LED'S start flashing my bench top power supply shows the whole thing only pulling 1 half of an amp.

Is it possible to add M.2 ssd to boot from it and then add the 4 drives ssd/hdds?