|EonNAS 1100 NAS Network Storage Server|
|Reviews - Featured Reviews: Network|
|Written by Bruce Normann|
|Wednesday, 05 December 2012|
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Insider Details: EonNAS 1100 NAS Server
The insides of these things are always more interesting than the outsides, at least to me. The EonNAS 1100 came apart very quickly and easily, with just two captive screws needing to be released in order to remove the rearmost top panel. Once they're loosened, the top panel slides a bit to the rear and then lifts off, revealing most of the internal parts. Further disassembly requires a screwdriver or two. The main controller board takes up about a quarter of the space that isn't consumed by the drive bays, and many of the functions are integrated on the one board, including most of the back panel connectors. There is a full-width backplane located at the border between the front and rear sections, where all the SATA connections for the drives are mounted, and there are pass-through connectors for power, SATA, and the front panel controls and indicators. The main controller PC board is held in place by screws, as are most of the other components in this section. The 1GB DOM board is on the left and the 250W power supply is on the far right. The power supply has several unused connectors tucked away against the side panel. The two 40mm system fans straddle the main controller board and sit tight up against the rear panel, while the third fan is integrated into the power supply chassis.
The location of the backplane PCB makes more sense when you pull the remaining top cover off the unit, which means removing 13 screws. The drive bays need to be rigid, so they can support the heavy hard drives, and Infortrend has built a sturdy front end into the EonNAS 1100. There are more cables than I'm used to seeing in a four-bay NAS, but the layout is clean and well-constructed.
The inside of the drive bays shows a higher level of build quality than I've seen before. Everyone else is using formed sheet metal structures for the guides on the drive bay, and Infortrend is using thick, machined aluminum bar stock. In combination with the slick plastic on the drive trays, it's a smooth ride for the hard drives as they are inserted into the drive bay, and finally mate with the SATA connectors at the rear. The top cover is screwed directly to these heavy bars, to form a very rigid enclosure for the entire front section. The thin, pizza-box format of this NAS unit requires a different style of construction than the tower-style models we're used to reviewing, and Infortrend made some good choices on the mechanical design.
The main controller board is densely populated, not as much as a high performance video card, but the majority of the parts on the EonNAS 1100 board are there to provide a unique set of functions. A video card PCB has at least 25% of the surface consumed by power regulation and distribution hardware. Two passively cooled heatsinks (sorry, one's missing in this photo) cover the main chips supplied by Intel, the Dual-Core D525 Atom CPU, and the ICH9R Southbridge that provides the SATA connections and the RAID logic. These two ICs do the bulk of the work for this NAS device; the only other chips that are even moderately stressed are the memory and the Ethernet controllers. There are a couple of unused functions on the right hand side of the board, namely an eSATA port and the 1x PCIe expansion slot connector. The 9-pin D-Sub connector located towards the bottom is probably used for initial setup at the factory, if at all.
From the side, the size of the CPU heatsink is a little more obvious, once you can see the height of the thing. It's still indicative of a low power solution, which is the Intel Atom's forte, even the Dual-Core models. The limited cooling required for the two hardest working chips on the controller board is made even more obvious once you remove the heatsink and see the type of thermal interface materials in use. The ICH9R Southbridge is thermally connected to the heatsink with that hard, plasticky material that we used to see on low-end video cards in the '80s and '90s. At least the assembly process and the viscosity of the material worked together to produce a thin interface layer. That's better than a 1mm thick layer of the good stuff, perhaps.
The power supply unit is a rather thin model from Delta Electronics and is rated for 250 watts of output. The main outputs are 3.3V, two 5V rails, and +/- 12V. 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 115V, 208V, and 230V AC power feeds commonly encountered in various parts of the world. There is no dedicated power switch integrated into the power input module, just an IEC receptacle. There's no safety requirement for the switch, and from the user viewpoint, it's one less switch to worry about.
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....