The StarFive VisionFive 2 comes with a M.2 M-key PCIe 2.0 slot that we can use with a 2280 NVMe drive. Unfortunately at release it’s not possible to boot from the NVMe drive but this is expected to be added to the device through some combination of SPI+NVMe booting.
In the meantime we are going to bootstrap the boot process using a SD card and then clone that SD card to our SSD to be used as the root partition. This essentially will let us have our system’s root partition on the SSD (much faster).
Let’s get started!
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First we are going to completely remove all partitions from the drive so it’s completely blank. Your drive should typically be /dev/nvme0n1:
sudo gdisk /dev/nvme0n1
Now remove all partitions from the device. If you press “p” it will print out the partitions. You can then use “d” to delete them.
Here’s an example on mine:
root@starfive:/# sudo gdisk /dev/nvme0n1 sudo: unable to resolve host starfive: Temporary failure in name resolution GPT fdisk (gdisk) version 1.0.9 Partition table scan: MBR: MBR only BSD: not present APM: not present GPT: not present *************************************************************** Found invalid GPT and valid MBR; converting MBR to GPT format in memory. THIS OPERATION IS POTENTIALLY DESTRUCTIVE! Exit by typing 'q' if you don't want to convert your MBR partitions to GPT format! *************************************************************** Command (? for help): p Disk /dev/nvme0n1: 1953525168 sectors, 931.5 GiB Model: Samsung SSD 960 EVO 1TB Sector size (logical/physical): 512/512 bytes Disk identifier (GUID): 8ACF6B0D-D7EC-48A0-955B-93AD7C6B53FE Partition table holds up to 128 entries Main partition table begins at sector 2 and ends at sector 33 First usable sector is 34, last usable sector is 1953525134 Partitions will be aligned on 2048-sector boundaries Total free space is 1922993516 sectors (917.0 GiB) Number Start (sector) End (sector) Size Code Name 1 2048 264191 128.0 MiB 0700 Microsoft basic data 2 264192 30533632 14.4 GiB 8300 Linux filesystem Command (? for help): d Partition number (1-2): 1 Command (? for help): d Using 2 Command (? for help): w Final checks complete. About to write GPT data. THIS WILL OVERWRITE EXISTING PARTITIONS!! Do you want to proceed? (Y/N): y OK; writing new GUID partition table (GPT) to /dev/nvme0n1. The operation has completed successfully.
Keep pressing d until all the partitions are deleted. Once they are gone use the ‘w’ command to write your changes.
Cloning Installation to SSD
We’re now ready to clone your installation to the SSD. We can now copy your drive to the SSD with the following command:
cat /dev/mmcblk1 > /dev/nvme0n1
Wait for the operation to complete (there won’t be any output but you will have a cursor again and be able to type new commands). Remember that you are copying an entire drive from one to another basically with that one command.
Mine took about 30-45 minutes (although I was using a 64GB SD card and the larger SD card you use the longer it will take to copy the whole drive).
If you are having any trouble with permissions try becoming “root” first with:
Now try running the command again and as the superuser you should not encounter any permission errors.
Change SD card’s rootfs UUID
We need to change our SD card’s UUID so that it doesn’t try to boot from that partition. We can set it to a random one with the following command:
sudo tune2fs -U random /dev/mmcblk1p3
If you get an error with the previous command regarding csums try the following command instead:
sudo tune2fs -O metadata_csum_seed -U random /dev/mmcblk1p3
We can verify that it has changed with blkid like this:
root@starfive:/boot# sudo blkid sudo: unable to resolve host starfive: Temporary failure in name resolution /dev/nvme0n1p3: LABEL="root" UUID="8260c14e-8ec8-406a-ae74-4ae0465376cf" BLOCK_SIZE="4096" TYPE="ext4" PARTUUID="3d4c02eb-9c28-46a1-a86b-71666ef51cdb" /dev/nvme0n1p2: SEC_TYPE="msdos" UUID="49C6-F38E" BLOCK_SIZE="512" TYPE="vfat" PARTUUID="bdc51e7d-66f3-4ba4-ac93-adf2e8850928" /dev/mmcblk1p3: LABEL="root" UUID="2e441104-607f-4f13-ada2-09d2ef0e03fd" BLOCK_SIZE="4096" TYPE="ext4" PARTUUID="3d4c02eb-9c28-46a1-a86b-71666ef51cdb" /dev/mmcblk1p2: SEC_TYPE="msdos" UUID="49C6-F38E" BLOCK_SIZE="512" TYPE="vfat" PARTUUID="bdc51e7d-66f3-4ba4-ac93-adf2e8850928" /dev/nvme0n1p1: PARTUUID="5f7fd372-5546-44df-b018-a077758cee2f" /dev/mmcblk1p1: PARTUUID="5f7fd372-5546-44df-b018-a077758cee2f"
Notice that /dev/nvme0n1p3 and /dev/mmcblk1p3 no longer have matching UUIDs. This is exactly what we want.
Use this one-liner to update /boot/extlinux/extlinux.conf:
sudo sed -i 's/mmcblk1p3/nvme0n1p3/g' /boot/extlinux/extlinux.conf
Before we reboot run fsck on the drive like this:
sudo fsck -yf /dev/nvme0n1p3
This will prevent you from having to run fsck on the CLI the first time you try to boot.
Reboot and Verify
Now reboot the VisionFive 2 with:
With any luck you should be booted using your SSD! We can verify this with the mount command like this:
root@starfive:/home/user# sudo mount /dev/nvme0n1p3 on / type ext4 (rw,relatime)
Here we can see that our root partition (/) is indeed on /dev/nvme0n1p3 and not /dev/mmcblk0p3. Success!
You can verify the performance of your drive on Pi Benchmarks using the following command:
sudo curl https://raw.githubusercontent.com/TheRemote/PiBenchmarks/master/Storage.sh | sudo bash
Here are the results:
Category Test Result HDParm Disk Read 181.92 MB/s HDParm Cached Disk Read 181.63 MB/s DD Disk Write 107 MB/s FIO 4k random read 44425 IOPS (177700 KB/s) FIO 4k random write 9006 IOPS (36024 KB/s) IOZone 4k read 64462 KB/s IOZone 4k write 43701 KB/s IOZone 4k random read 35419 KB/s IOZone 4k random write 75853 KB/s Score: 13,856
This is actually a great performance score. It’s much higher than anything the Raspberry Pi 4 can do thanks to the PCIe interface (while the Raspberry Pi 4 has to use USB).
It’s also below competing ARM boards such as the Orange Pi 5, ODROID M1 and the Raspberry Pi CM4 that have PCIe 2.0 interfaces. The latest generation of alternative ARM boards are faster than this board but they also have a lot more CPU cores.
It’s pretty impressive performance considering this is RISC-V and not an ARM device. This is by far the highest score I’ve *ever* seen on any RISC-V device. It’s not even close. RISC-V is still a rapidly developing technology while ARM processors (while still having technological improvements) are unquestionably a much further developed technology. RISC-V is catching up very quickly though!