At OCP Summit 2023, we saw a prototype system that is going to keep some of our readers awake at night thinking about the possibilities. The ASRock Rack ALTRA-NAS is an Arm-based NAS platform that is just about perfect for an Arm-based lab.
ASRock Rack ALTRA-NAS Ampere Altra Arm NAS at OCP Summit 2023
At OCP Summit 2023, the Ampere booth had several systems we have reviewed before like the HPE ProLiant RL300 Gen11, Gigabyte Ampere Altra Max and NVIDIA A100 server, and the Supermicro Ampere Altra platforms. There was, however a ASRock Rack ALTRAD8U-1L2T is a mATX motherboard on display with an Ampere Altra Max M96-28 96-core CPU.
We have covered that motherboard before, but there was a prototype system next to it that I think folks are going to be wildly excited about. This is the prototype ASRock Rack ALTRA-NAS.
With eight 3.5″ and two 2.5″ bays, this is a small NAS system. When we look inside, we can see the ALTRAD8U-1L2T motherboard and two internally mounted 2.5″ bays.
There are some unused ports and slots, but there are also four PCIe Gen4 x16 slots.
Unlike most super low-power (underpowered) Arm NAS units we have seen previously, this one has an Ampere Altra/ Altra Max processor with 8x DDR4 RDIMM slots.
That means this prototype system should scale up to 128 cores, but there is room to go down from that level.
The specs are basically the motherboard with the case and a 500W 80Plus Gold PSU.
This is going to make a lot of our readers very excited. This is really the first Arm-based NAS unit that is not extremely underpowered. Instead, with up to 128 cores and multiple PCIe Gen4 x16 slots, this is likely the opposite, a massively overpowered NAS and server.
One item that I have been giving feedback to both ASRock Rack and Ampere on is that selling this motherboard alone will likely be a challenge. There are limited coolers in the market, and it is not easy to buy a quantity of one or two Ampere CPUs. I think what is more likely to happen is that there will be bundles sold with the motherboard, CPU, and cooler on an e-tailer like Newegg or Amazon. I am hoping another bundle includes the ALTRA-NAS.
We hope that by Q1 2024, we will have a review of the motherboard. If we can get this NAS chassis, we will do the entire setup as well. In the meantime, we have two cool ASRock Rack platforms being tested, so stay tuned for those.