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Trying KIOXIA CM6 and PM6 Enterprise SSDs on a Raspberry Pi

Late last year, an engineer at Broadcom sent me some hardware and offered some help getting Broadcom's MegaRAID card working on the Raspberry Pi. It took some time, but eventually we were able to get the card and a demonstrator 'UBM' backplane working on the Pi, and it culminated in my posting about Hardware RAID on the Pi, and on a livestream, getting 16 hard drives working on a Pi.

The one thing I couldn't test in those earlier videos was the backplane and storage card's 'Tri-mode' support, allowing PCI Express NVMe drives—like KIOXIA's CM6—to work in the same slot as the SATA and SAS drives I was used to testing.

So after some conversation with reps at KIOXIA, I was able to get a PM6 and three CM6 drives on loan to test them:

KIOXIA CM6 and PM6 SSD with Raspberry Pi Compute Module 4

Tried Nvidia's GTX 1080 - still no external GPU on a Pi

Earlier today I did a livestream on my YouTube channel to attempt using an Nvidia GeForce GTX 1080 on a Raspberry Pi Compute Module 4.

MSI Nvidia GeForce GTX 1080 Graphics Card GPU

As with all my testing, I'm documenting everything I learn in this GitHub issue, which is part of the Raspberry Pi PCI Express Card Database website.

It's only been a few hours, but I've already gotten good suggestions for better debugging than I was able to do on the stream. And someone pointed out it might be the case, due to 32-bit memory limitations on the BCM2711's PCIe bus, that no GPU with more than 4 GB of onboard RAM could work. Though it's hard to confirm there'd be no software workaround—even 1 and 2 GB graphics cards (AMD and Nvidia) are crashing the kernel in similar ways.

The full livestream is available on replay and is embedded below:

I'm switching from Nikon to Sony mirrorless

First let me be clear: I'm not, nor have I ever been, sponsored by Sony, Nikon or any other camera manufacturer, and all my photography gear has been purchased with my own money (usually used since I'm not made of money).

With that out of the way, after waffling on the decision for over a year, I'm selling all my Nikon FX DSLR camera gear, and switching to Sony's APS-C mirrorless camera system.

Jeff Geerling's Nikon DSLR photo gear

But why?

For me, there are two major reasons:

Three more graphics cards on the Raspberry Pi CM4

Last year I tested two older graphics cards—a Radeon 5450 and a GeForce GT710—on a Raspberry Pi Compute Module 4.

Jeff Geerling holds NVidia and ASRock Rack GPU and Raspberry Pi Compute Module 4 with quizzical look

This year, I've been testing three more graphics cards—a GeForce GTX 750 Ti, a Radeon RX 550, and the diminutive ASRock Rack M2_VGA.

The Compute Module 4, if you didn't know already, exposes the BCM2711's single PCI express lane, and the official IO Board has a nice, standard, 1x PCIe slot into which you can plug any PCI express device.

MirkoPC - a full-featured Raspberry Pi desktop computer

The MirkoPC is so far the closest thing to a full-fledged Raspberry Pi desktop computer:

MirkoPC with Raspberry Pi Compute Module 4

Based on the Compute Module 4, it has a full-size M.2 M-key slot, allowing the Pi to boot from reliable and fast NVMe SSD storage, a built-in headphone amp and line out, 4 USB 2.0 ports, gigabit Ethernet, two HDMI ports, and a number of other neat little features.

Video

I also have a video review of this board here:

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:

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:

Launched: Red Shirt Jeff merch store

It makes me throw up a little in my mouth to say this, because it's such a YouTuber thing to do... but I now have an official merch store to go along with my YouTube channel:

Red Shirt Jeff store - launch products

The Red Shirt Jeff store has original designs that I find interesting or funny, and there are three shirt designs available at launch: