As already suggested here I would like to propose a VIM3 variant focused on server/NAS use cases (VIMS for server)
S922X has one Gen2 PCIe lane with decent speeds and as such the perfect companions would be either an ASM1061 PCIe to SATA controller (that’s the thing on Pine64’s SATA card for RockPro64) for two SATA ports or a Marvell 88SE9215 for up to 4 SATA ports (the 88SE9215 is the SATA controller on FriendlyELEC’s SATA HAT I suggested last year).
This would allow for a really decent but still inexpensive ARM SoC to be combined with 2 or 4 SATA disks without all the annoying USB3 storage hassles. All the fancy stuff that increases BOM costs in the various VIMs is not needed at all (no Wi-Fi, no eMMC, no USB PD, no sensors and all the other Android focused stuff) since such a device can only be a win if priced competitively.
Ideally such a device features a large heatsink as part of the enclosure suitable to cool SoC and also somewhat a disk passively. Simply look at ODROID HC2 to get the idea. The principle behind something like HC1/HC2 has been outlined by me weeks prior to HC1 announcement (see last two paragraphs here) but all the implementations so far somewhat suck:
- ODROID HC1/HC2 are both based on an old 32-bit SoC and both network and storage are USB3 based
- Popcorn Hour Transformer is way too expensive and storage is based on USB3
- Swiftboard relying on same Rockchip SoC shares the same limitation but isn’t even available yet
All three implementations suffer from storage being based on an USB3-to-SATA bridge which simply sucks for a lot of reasons. And they’re also limited to one SATA disk per device.
If such a proposed VIMS could allow for stacking enclosures (2 or up to 4 devices) where a master node contains a PCB that is software compatible to VIM3 and allows for one local disk connection but also 1-3 cable connections to ‘slave enclosures’ that only contain a small PCB or none at all this would be the perfect device for fans of energy efficient servers with true (PCIe based) SATA capabilities.
Especially in Germany there’s a huge market for something like this since Germans go crazy for energy efficiency and ‘true SATA’. So in case Khadas evaluates or picks up this idea they should get in contact with ALLNET for a EU/DE distributor.
For something like this to be priced competitively the basic 1GB/ASM1061 version which will be used in device comparisons should remain at or below the price one has to pay for an ODROID HC2. So everything that needlessly increases BOM costs should be avoided but the ‘few cents’ components like HDMI or MIPI-CSI connectors as well as USB2 ports should be exposed since adding extra value (think of a NAS for surveillance purposes where CSI cameras or a control monitor can be directly attached to).
Most probably the most important design goals are
- 100% software compatibility with VIM3
- good passive heat dissipation being part of a stackable enclosure concept (no tiny fancy expensive fansinks please – that’s something for toys but not for workhorses)
- solid powering with an external inexpensive 12V brick using the usual barrel connector
- keeping costs as low as possible by skipping all the fancy stuff that’s useless on servers anyway.
@Gouwa any opinions on something like this?