Cardano on the Rocks – an Energy efficient Staking Pool


Hardware items explained

First of all we would like to introduce you to all the components individually.

We have created an interactive 3D view of the device. Click Here to check it out and make sure to use the “model browser” to display/hide the individual components.

The RockPi 4 mainboard

The mainboard contains all of the important computer components. For this project we use the RockPi 4 with the maximum capacity configuration of 4 GB RAM.

The RockPi is available in version A with Gigabit Ethernet interface and 6-core CPU, which is completely sufficient for this project. The other option is the extended version B which is equipped with dual-band WiFi, Bluetooth and the possibility to use a PoE adapter for power supply.

Power supply

The mainboard should be powered by a USB-C QuickCharge Adapter able to provide 9V and 2000mA. (more info) Most modern smartphones are equipped with such power adapters, so you may already have one and won’t need to order a new one.

Be aware that a standard 5V USB adapter – even if it’s a 3000mA version – cannot provide enough energy for every operating situation. This may result in unexpected failures, reboots or file system corruption on the RockPi.

The passive Heatsink

One of the goals of this project was to have no moving parts such as fans. This to reduce the likelihood of hardware maintenance over time while keeping power consumption as low and efficient as possible.

This solid aluminum heat sink provides enough capacity to absorb and dissipate the thermal energy of the 6-core CPU.

Permanent Storage

Like almost every single-board Computer in the Raspberry class, the RockPi allows booting from a microSD memory card. To avoid the disadvantages of these simple SD cards, the RockPi also supports eMMC and NVMe modules, which we recommend for this project.

The size of the storage should be enough for both the Linux operating system and the Cardano blockchain database. 64 Gigabyte is a safe choice. (see the operating system lesson for more details and reasons)

eMMC flash adapter

In order to write (flash) the Linux operating system on your microSD or eMMC card – as described in a later lesson – an adapter is required. There is a cheap and simple microSD-to-eMMC adapter available (a1). You will need a microSD port on your personal computer or a microSD to SD adapter (a2). You may also consider ordering a USB-eMMC adapter (b) instead. It may cost more, however it allows you to flash faster by simply plugging it into a free USB port on your computer.

High Speed NVMe

The RockPi mainboard has a special feature, the PCI-Express interface, which allows for the connection of a NVMe drive.

This is screwed to the motherboard with an M.2 adapter board and connected with a ribbon cable.

The NVMe drives not only offer read and write performance that even surpass that of SSDs, but they also are much more durable and reliable than small microSD cards.

You can buy NVMe drives – like SD-Cards – in various sizes between 32 gigabytes and several terabytes, depending on the price/performance ratio you want. The drive is then plugged into the green M.2 adapter board. You should be able to get the M.2 Adapter board from the same shop where you ordered the RockPi.