|QNAP TS-659 Pro II NAS Network Server|
|Reviews - Featured Reviews: Network|
|Written by Bruce Normann|
|Thursday, 09 June 2011|
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Insider Details: QNAP TS-659 Pro II
The first inner workings of a TS-659 Pro II that you're likely to see is the opening of the drive bay, which is rather substantial, but not quite as large as some of the monster drive arrays that are available, with 8 and 12 bays. The metal guide rails can be seen along the bottom here, and the PCIe extender card that carries the six SATA power and data connectors is right where it should be. It's firmly held in place by ten screws fastening it directly to the metal frame and the PCIe connector on the left, where it terminates on the motherboard. The two 90mm fans have pretty much an unobstructed path to the drive bay, so any heat being generated by the drives can easily be pulled out the back of the enclosure.
At first look into the drive bays, there were two ICs that were rather prominent; let's have a closer look. They are Marvell SATA 6Gb/s and PATA Host Controllers, Model No. 88SE9125. Each host controller supports two 6 Gb/s SATA interface ports and a one-lane 5.0 Gb/s PCIe host interface back to the motherboard. There are three controllers in total, these two ICs control drive bays 3-4 and 5-6. There is a whole family of parts in this series, and this one is optimized for use with a central RAID controller on the system board. The Marvell 88SE9123 chip shows up most often on motherboards that lack native SATA 6Gb/s support on their chipset, and its performance capabilities has been challenged by the last two generations of hyper-fast SSDs. I anticipate the primary usage of the TS-659 Pro II as being paired with traditional 3.5" HDDS, none of which operate anywhere near the full capabilities of the new SATA 6Gb/s interface. QNAP makes some Turbo NAS units that are specifically designed for 2.5" drives, but indications are that they are not keeping pace with the rapid increases in R/W speeds of the latest SSDs. The official compatibility list only lists 25 SSD models, and most of them are two generations behind the current state-of-the-art designs. In defense of QNAP, the name of the game in their market space is reliability, so keeping a respectable distance from the bleeding edge is probably desirable. Case in point: Corsair's recent recall of their Force 3 (CSSD-F120GBG3-BK) SSDs.
Once the brushed steel top and side cover is removed, you can see the main server board installed along the left side of the chassis, parallel to the drive bays. The back side of the board faces the exterior, and only a few components are mounted on the back of the PC Board. All of the rear panel connectors are mounted directly to the board, for a reliable and secure connection. There is a full size clear, flexible plastic shield attached to the board, to prevent the metallic side cover from shorting out any circuits in the event of some extreme rough handling. This is as far as you need to disassemble the TS-659 Pro II to access the empty SO-DIMM slot and upgrade the memory from the standard 1GB to 2GB or 3GB.
Taking a closer look at the board, the DIMM slot is more obvious, and also you can see where the plastic insulating sheet has been slit to create an access flap and allow easy access to the memory slot. To the left and below the memory, are the 98 pins for the x8 PCI Express connector that serves up multiple PCIe 2.0 lanes to the three Marvell SATA host controllers.
1GB of DDR3 memory is installed on one standard SODIMM DRAM module, inserted in a typical memory slot with locking tabs on each side. The chips in my sample were supplied by Hynix and were rated for DDR3-1333 with timings of 9-9-9 for CL-tRCD-tRP. Specifications for the additional memory that can be added to the TS-659 Pro II were incomplete in the QNAP documentation. The hardware manual says, "QNAP provides 1GB DDR3 RAM module (optional purchase) for you to upgrade the memory of Turbo NAS.", but I couldn't find it for sale anywhere. In this day and age of DRAM as a lowest-common-denominator commodity, it's hard to imagine anyone not browsing over to Newegg and buying it direct. FWIW, the manual depicts an ADATA module being installed, and pictures of the ADATA SO-DIMMs show very similar Hynix chips on them. To the right is the connection for the front panel USB 3.0 port. The bandwidth of USB 3.0 must be pushing the limits, because all the internal cabling I've seen so far has been beefy, heavily shielded cable with dedicated connections. No basic header pins in sight for USB 3.0, and the QNAP system follows this trend.
The power supply is sourced from Delta Electronics, and is rated for 250 Watts. Anyone remember what a 250W PSU looked like in the IBM AT days...? There is one 40mm dia x 20 mm thick fan included, spinning at 7600 RPM and pulling ~8 CFM through the PSU and exhausting out the back of the TS-659 Pro II. You might think that anything spinning at 7600 RPMs would be insanely annoying, but I never noticed it. Overall, noise levels were never an issue with the whole unit. I never had any reason to pay attention to the sound coming from it, even when it was formatting disks or rebuilding an array. Of course, I live in an urban setting and it's summer, so the A/C is on and the ambient noise is fairly high. If you live in a cabin in Montana, you will hear it, but then I have to ask, who needs 10TB of storage if they're living in a cabin in the middle of nowhere?
To measure isolated NAS power consumption, Benchmark Reviews uses the Kill-A-Watt EZ (model P4460) power meter made by P3 International. In idle standby mode the QNAP TS-659 Pro II consumed 23 watts of electricity, which is on-par with the 22W specified for sleep mode. With four 750GB hard drives installed, building a RAID 5 cluster during initial system setup, the TS-659 Pro II NAS drew 58W. Obviously, power consumption is going to depend heavily on the number and type of drives that are installed. The drives don't take up the whole depth of the unit, leaving a fairly open area in front of the two system fans. This helps bring cool air past the motherboard and cools the CPU via a large aluminum heat sink.