|EonNAS 850X NAS Network Storage Server|
|Reviews - Featured Reviews: Network|
|Written by Bruce Normann|
|Thursday, 14 February 2013|
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Insider Details: EonNAS Pro 850X NAS Server
The insides of these things are always more interesting than the outsides, at least to me. The EonNAS Pro 850X came apart very quickly, with just four screws needing to be removed in order to release the u-shaped panel that makes up the sides and top surface of the enclosure. The outer panel was tightly fitted, mostly due to the various EMI/RFI grounding strips that provide an electrical path between the inner chassis and the outer shell. The main controller board takes up a portion of the left hand side of the chassis, and most of the functions are integrated on the single board, including many of the back panel connectors. Fitting all the required components into a tower format requires a bit of 3-Dimensional thinking. The last EonNAS unit I reviewed was a thin, 1U rack mount system, and everything was all in one horizontal plane. A large tower like this, with eight drive bays, also means it's impractical to integrate everything on one or two PCBs. It's no more complicated than a PC, but you all know how challenging cable management can be in a mini tower case.
The backplane PCB for all the SATA drive connections is tightly secured to a metal backing plate with stiffening ribs on all four sides. The backplane is almost entirely passive, meaning that there are no logic devices on the board, just some power supply components, a few resistors and all the wiring required to fan out SATA power and signals to eight drives. The 16 LEDs for signaling Drive Ready (Green) and Drive Activity (Blue) on each of the eight drives are located on this PCB, and thin acrylic light pipes carry the photons all the way to the front of the drive tray, where they are visible to the user.
Each Drive tray holds one individual drive in the EonNAS Pro 850X, and the tray is a common part across the product line. Inserting and removing the drive trays was smooth, more so with HDDs mounted in the tray. There are individual locking devices on each of the latches, and no keys are required to operate them. The latches acted like a locking device and a lever; once the trays reached the end of their travel, swinging the latch down pushes the tray firmly into place. My advice is to use the locks and think twice before unlatching any drive bay. Trust me when I say that you do not want to start accidentally pulling drives out. The drive bays are marked 1...8 on the front bezel, but the individual drive trays are not marked. You can mix and match them all you want, until you build a drive array and then you had better remember which one goes where. There is an exception to this, and Infortrend calls it "Disk Roaming". If you want to physically migrate your data from one NAS system to another, you don't have to retain the order of the drives in the new chassis.
The main controller board is basically a mini-ITX PC design, which means it's densely populated and only has one PCI Express slot. A prominent fan-cooled heatsink covers the CPU and an 80mm fan blows air down through it, towards the motherboard. The Core i3-2125 CPU is not a low power device, like the many Atom and ARM-based CPUs that are used in a large number of less-capable NAS units. It's a full-fledged member of the Sandy Bridge family and needs power and cooling just like the CPU in a typical PC. With a max TDP of 65W, it won't heat the house on cold winter nights, but active cooling is a necessity. The Platform Controller Hub is cooled with a simple passive heatsink, as it is in most applications. The only SATA connection that comes into the PCH is the eSATA port on the rear panel. All the other SATA ports on the motherboard are empty.
The power supply unit is a standard model from Delta Electronics and is rated for 430 watts of output. The main outputs are 3.3V, two 5V rails, and +/- 12V. There are a number of unused output cables that are bundled up and stored off to the side inside the chassis. There is only a single PSU, so no redundancy or hot swap functionality is available. The unit has a full range input, with auto-switching between the nominal 100V - 230V AC power feeds commonly encountered in various parts of the world. There is dedicated power switch sitting below the IEC receptacle, on the rear panel.
So far we've had a good look at what there is to observe as far as hardware goes, but let's dig down one more layer, down to the chip level where the technology really starts to get interesting. I love my shiny hardware just as much as the next person, but it's only half the story....