Intel's EvanSport NAS Platform

Intel's recent foray into the consumer electronics (CE) space started with the 2007 launch of the Intel CE 2110 media processor. It was intended for digital set top boxes and media players / recorders. Based on a 1 GHz Intel XScale processor core, it had all the necessary integrated DSPs, GPUs, encryption engines and other I/Os. Around the same time, the Intel XScale business was sold to Marvell. Therefore, the follow-up Intel CE 3100 series for the same target market was based on a 800 MHz Intel Pentium M processor. The development of the Atom microarchitecture made it necessary to have yet another shift when it came to the Intel CE 4100. Fortunately, both Intel CE 4100 and the follow-up, CE 5300, are based around Atom cores. In an effort to branch out, the Intel CE 5300 series first debuted as a STB / media player platform (tagged Berryville in March 2012). A year later, it was also re-launched as a storage platform, EvanSport, for home users with media-centric usage patterns.

The CE5300 SoC ticks all the necessary I/O interfaces and features necessary for a media streaming platform. On the networked storage front, the blocks of interest are the high speed IOs, the GMAC and the security processor. We have one GbE interface. The typical x86 2-bay NAS usually comes with dual network ports (capable of port trunking), but units based on EvanSport are unlikely to have that. This is acceptable, considering that the unit is supposed to cater to home consumers who want to use it as a media server.

The other aspect of interest is the number of SATA and PCIe lanes. Two SATA ports point to most EvanSport designs ending up with two hard drive bays. As more and more data is generated by home consumers (thanks to smartphones which make it easier for users to shoot pictures and videos), two bays may not be sufficient moving forward (particularly when RAID protection is applied). NAS vendors may choose to use the two PCIe lanes along with a SATA bridge to provide two additional SATA ports on the board. Therefore, the maximum number of bays that we can hope to see with acceptable performance in a EvanSport-based NAS will be four.

The security processor is an interesting component. It contains an AES engine, but is primarily meant for handling DRM content in a STB environment. It should potentially be possible to use it to accelrate performance of encrypted volumes. However, it is up to the NAS vendors to take advantage of the feature.


Introduction Setup and Usage Impressions
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  • emacjohnson - Sunday, December 29, 2013 - link

    before I looked at the paycheck of $8548, I accept that my friend was like realey bringing home money part time on their apple labtop.. there best friend has been doing this for only about twenty one months and recently cleard the mortgage on there place and bourt a great new Alfa Romeo. look at this site,,,,,,,,,
  • OzzieGT - Monday, November 25, 2013 - link

    Cloud backup...I use cloud backup, I don't need 6 drives. That's just insanity.
  • Gigaplex - Monday, November 25, 2013 - link

    Data caps. I can't back up 5+TB of data via the internet, and even if I could, it would take well over a month.
  • Morawka - Tuesday, November 26, 2013 - link

    the idea behind a good cloud backup system is file revisioning. You upload the bulk of your data one time, and only the files that have been changed or added, are uploaded each day.
  • ace240 - Monday, November 25, 2013 - link

    Err, money?

    A 2-bay NAS with 2 drives is almost exactly half the cost of a 4-bay NAS with 4 drives. If money is no object, get as much storage as you like. I love my 2-bay NAS -- spending $1000 was out of my budget to move to get 4 bays w/ 4 drives.
  • swizeus - Monday, November 25, 2013 - link

    Actually there is footprint thing though. For everyone who wants a lower profile NAS it will go with the 2 bays. Just want a centralize storage, not too much data going on anyway
  • SetiroN - Monday, November 25, 2013 - link

    Home NAS devices are a joke and it's ridiculous to spend money on them.
    To someone with any actual storage needs, anything less than RAID 6 is a joke and devices with 6+ slots actually cost more than 3x 2-slot, which doesn't make any sense.

    Unless you want to spend a silly amount of money, you're much better off with something self built, although it does require a little expertise.
  • hero4hire - Tuesday, November 26, 2013 - link

    Zfs then?
  • Namisecond - Friday, December 20, 2013 - link

    It actually makes a lot of sense to me. You mention it yourself: RAID 6.

    A 2 drive NAS is only going to support JBOD, striping and RAID 1. Fairly easy to implement as far as hardware goes. Once you get to 4-bay and plus units, you start getting real redundancy with RAID 5 and 6, with hot swap spares and data error correction. This stuff doesn't come cheap.

    If you want to see the difference between them, take apart a 2 port NAS. It's a single circuit board with a few low level IO chips. Take apart a Synology DS1511 or something similar and it's a full blown micro server on the inside with a real RAID controller card.

    Even building your own unit isn't a cheap affair, especially if you factor in your own time. Up to a 4 or 5 bay unit, you may actually save some money building your own. Try building your own 8 or 12 bay unit and watch your build cost skyrocket.
  • DanNeely - Monday, November 25, 2013 - link

    Not everyone is using their NAS to store thousands of DVD/BlueRay rips or tens of thousands of high megapixel raw images from their SLR. If you're just using one because you want your backups on something a bit more fault tolerant than a USB drive sitting on your desk and with a faster restore capability than pulling an entire system image down from the cloud, a 2 bay option is more than plenty.

    I built my current NAS with a 4 bay mITX enclosure; but after a year I'd give even money odds that the system will be old enough I'll decide on a precautionary replacement before needing to add a 3rd data drive. The 4th bay is almost certainly going to remain empty unless I undergo a lifestyle change and greatly accelerate my rate of data retention.

    In particular I suspect that 2 bay NASes sold with drives preinstalled are primarily marketed to people who want an appliance; not something they can tinker with. For them smaller is almost universally better since it takes up less room on the shelf in the corner where their modem and router are. If it fills up in a few years they wouldn't know how to add more disks to it, and the price the local computer shop would gouge them for labor to work on is high enough to make just getting a new one seem really appealing.

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