raspberry pi

Building a 2.5 Gbps 5-drive Pi NAS - Hardware Setup

A few months ago, an ASUSTOR representative emailed me with an offer I couldn't refuse. He saw my blog post and video about building the fastest Raspberry Pi NAS, and asked if I wanted to put up my best Pi-based NAS against an Asustor NAS.

We settled on the Asustor Lockerstor 4, with dual-2.5 Gbps networking, 4 GB of RAM, and a quad-core Intel CPU. To make things even, he convinced Seagate to send four 8TB IronWolf NAS drives. I don't fancy he thought it would be a good show if I kept on using my four used WD GreenPower drives from 2010!

I posted a video of the hardware build process for both NASes on my YouTube channel:

The Raspberry Pi can boot off NVMe SSDs now

When the Compute Module 4 was released (see my CM4 review here), I asked the Pi Foundation engineers when we might be able to boot off NVMe storage, since it was trivially easy to use with the exposed PCIe x1 lane on the CM4 IO Board.

The initial response in October 2020 was "we'll see". Luckily, after more people started asking about it, beta support was added for direct NVMe boot just a couple weeks ago.

MirkoPC with SN750 WD_BLACK NVMe SSD and Raspberry Pi Compute Module 4

Building the World's Tiniest NVMe RAID Array

Just posting to the blog for reference; I posted this video on YouTube recently, in which I built (what I believe to be) the world's tiniest NVMe SSD RAID array, using the Raspberry Pi Compute Module 4 and three diminutive WD SN520 NVMe drives (which are M.2 2230 size, which makes them each about the size of a quarter):

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I ran some benchmarks in RAID 5 and RAID 0, as well as one drive by itself, and found one surprising thing: the Pi's overall IO bandwidth is already saturated by just one drive, so putting NVMe disks in RAID doesn't really help with performance, like it does with slower spinning hard drives.

Pi Day 2021 - Livestream of 16 drives on a Raspberry Pi (2nd attempt)

For Pi Day, I'm going to livestream my second attempt at getting 16 hard drives (well, 12 hard drives and 4 SSDs) recognized by a Raspberry Pi.

The first attempt went decently well... but I wound up running into power supply issues.

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This time around, I will hopefully have those issues solved, and also we may have a little fun building a software-RAID-on-hardware-RAID (depending on how crazy we want to get). It probably won't work like I expect, but that's what makes it fun!.

M.2 on a Raspberry Pi - the TOFU Compute Module 4 Carrier Board

Ever since the Pi 2 model B went to a 4-core processor, disk IO has often been the primary bottleneck for my Pi projects.

You can use microSD cards, which aren't horrible, but... well, nevermind, they're pretty bad as a primary disk. Or you can plug in a USB 3.0 SSD and get decent speed, but you end up with a cabling mess and lose bandwidth and latency to a USB-to-SATA or USB-to-NVMe adapter.

The Pi 4 actually has an x1 PCI Express gen 2.0 lane, but the USB 3.0 controller chip populates that bus on the model B. The Compute Module 4, however doesn't presume anything—it exposes the PCIe lane directly to any card it plugs into.

TOFU board by Oratek - Raspberry Pi Compute Module 4 Carrier with M.2 slot

And in the case of Oratek's TOFU, it's exposed through an M.2 slot, making this board the first one I've used that can accept native NVMe storage, directly under the Pi:

Hardware RAID on the Raspberry Pi CM4

A few months ago, I posted a video titled Enterprise SAS RAID on the Raspberry Pi... but I never actually showed a SAS drive in it. And soon after, I posted another video, The Fastest SATA RAID on a Raspberry Pi.

Broadcom MegaRAID SAS storage controller HBA with HP 10K drives and Raspberry Pi Compute Module 4

Well now I have actual enterprise SAS drives running on a hardware RAID controller on a Raspberry Pi, and it's faster than the 'fastest' SATA RAID array I set up in that other video.

A Broadcom engineer named Josh watched my earlier videos and realized the ancient LSI card I was testing would not likely work with the ARM processor in the Pi, so he was able to send two pieces of kit my way:

Microsoft repo and key are automatically added to Raspberry Pis

A couple weeks ago, I noticed when running apt-get upgrade on one of my Pi projects that a new repository was added.

VSCode Repository added to Raspberry Pi OS automatically during apt upgrade

It was a little odd, because Linux distributions don't typically 'inject' new repositories like this. And it was even stranger because this particular repository was for VSCode, from Microsoft.

The Raspberry Pi Foundation just posted an article to their blog about Visual Studio Code coming to the Raspberry Pi—but that post didn't address any of the controversy surrounding this change.

There's also a video that goes along with this post: Is Microsoft Spying on your Raspberry Pi?

What Happened

In late 2020, Microsoft released a version of VSCode compatible with the Raspberry Pi.

Argon One M.2 Raspberry Pi SSD Case Review

I'm a fan of Raspberry Pi cases that keep my Pi cool. And the cases made by Argon Forty have great cooling, which is one reason they're a popular choice. Their latest Argon One M.2 case also adds a built-in high speed SSD drive slot!

Argon One M.2 Case for Raspberry Pi

A few months ago, someone from Argon Forty reached out and asked if I'd like to review the Argon ONE M.2, after they watched my video on booting a Pi 4 from an external SSD, and I accepted.

Unlike most Pi cases, this one actually adds features through it's design, like putting all the ports on the back, and adding a mostly-internal SSD, and so I decided to put it through its paces and see what I liked, and what I didn't like.

Video Review

I also posted a video version of this blog post on YouTube:

The Raspberry Pi Pico is a new $4 microcontroller

Raspberry Pi Pico on breadboard

tl;dr: The Raspberry Pi Pico is a new $4 microcontroller board with a custom new dual-core 133 MHz ARM Cortex-M0+ microprocessor, 2MB of built-in flash memory, 26 GPIO pins, an assortment of SPI, I2C, UART, ADC, PWM, and PIO channels.

It also has a few other party tricks, like edge castellations that make it easier to solder the Pico to other boards.

The Pico is powered by a new RP2040 chip—a brand new Raspberry-Pi-built ARM processor. And the best thing about this processor is the insanely-detailed Datasheet available on the Pico website that steps through every bit of the chip's architecture.

Video Review and 'Baby Safe Temperature' Project

I posted an entire video reviewing the Pico and demonstrating a MicroPython project. The video is embedded below: