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Written by Bruce Normann   
Tuesday, 07 February 2012
Table of Contents: Page Index
QNAP TS-879U-RP NAS Network Storage Rack Server
QNAP v3.5 New Features-Home
QNAP v3.5 New Features-Business
Closer Look: QNAP TS-879U-RP
Insider Details: QNAP TS-879U-RP
Technology Details: QNAP TS-879U-RP
QNAP Turbo NAS Features
QNAP TS-879U-RP NAS Hardware
QNAP TS-879U-RP Software
QPKG Center Software Expansion
NAS Testing Methodology
Basic-Disk Test Results
RAID 5 Test Results
NAS System Overhead Measurements
NAS Server Final Thoughts
QNAP TS-879U-RP Conclusion

Technology Details: QNAP TS-879U-RP Turbo NAS

The biggest chip on the board is the Intel Core i3-2120 CPU, a dual-core member of the new Sandy Bridge family. It's certainly got the biggest heatsink, that's a finned aluminum block held in place by four heavy-duty springs. As much work as the CPU does, it's isolated from directly communicating with most of the subsystems by the Intel Platform Controller Hub, which we all used to call the Southbridge (back when there was also a Northbridge...). This is the second hardest working chip on the main board, and it's also got a heatsink on top, although it's less that 1/10 the size of the one on the CPU. Although the Core i3 CPU in the TS-879U-RP does not have it, some models in the QNAP TS-x79 product line have native CPU support for the Advanced Encryption Standard New Instructions (AES-NI) set. These new instructions speed up the encryption/decryption process by anywhere from 3x to 10x, depending on the implementation. As slow as the Atom-based and Marvell-based models are with encryption enabled, the QNAP TS-x79 models are the minimum level that can realistically support AES 256-bit Volume-based data Encryption. All of the NAS models I've tested to date have been bottle-necked by their CPU during RAID Write operations, and the extra load of data encryption was just too much to handle. I'm curious to see how this vastly superior CPU will perform, even without the new instruction set.

QNAP_TS-879U-RP_Turbo_NAS_Server_Core-i3-Architecture.jpg

Marvell supplies several ICs on the main board, and the SATA backplane board. They are marked 88SE9125, and are the interface between the PCI-Express lanes and the SATA devices. Each controller supports two 6 Gb/s SATA interface ports and a one-lane 5.0 GT/s PCIe host interface back to the Intel PCH. There are several of these controllers, located both on the main board and the SATA backplane, which is the same way they were deployed on the TS-659 Pro II that Benchmark Reviews tested last year. 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. Benchmark Reviews has reported on a number of issues in the past year, where a variety of brand new SATA 6Gb/s controllers aren't fulfilling the promises made for this interface. With the latest SSDs pushing more than 4Gb/s on both read and write cycles, many controllers aren't keeping pace. I anticipate the primary usage of the TS-879U-RP as being paired with traditional 3.5" HDDS, none of which operate anywhere near the full capabilities of the SATA 6Gb/s interface. With the right SSDs installed, the theoretical throughput for all of the drives running together would be well over 30 Gb/s, and the rest of the hardware (not to mention the rest of the IT world) just isn't ready for that, yet.

QNAP_TS-879U-RP_Turbo_NAS_Server_Marvell_Montage.jpg

The Xilinx XC3S50A IC on the SATA backplane board is a Field Programmable Gate Array chip, which is basically a programmable logic device that can do anything you want it to. Their main advantage in the marketplace is that they can be developed and deployed quicker and much more cheaply than Application Specific ICs (ASICs). The graphics processor in a video card is a common example of an ASIC, and most of you know how long they take to develop and how much they can cost! In this case, I'm betting that this FPGA is the core RAID controller for the whole system, since I don't see any other devices on the PC board that are designed for that task.

QNAP_TS-879U-RP_Turbo_NAS_Server_Xilinx_Montage.jpg

The rest of the major ICs in the system are for power management, and for supporting the various interconnects, like USB, eSATA, and GbE. Intersil supplies their ISL6364C and ISL 6314C to provide multi-phase PWM control over the Voltage Regulator Modules that feed the CPU, RAM, PCH, etc. Renesas Electronics (nee NEC) provides their ubiquitous D720200F1 chip for USB 3.0 duties.

QNAP_TS-879U-RP_Turbo_NAS_Server_4Chips_Montage.jpg

QNAP relies heavily on Intel for their Ethernet controllers in the high-end models of their product line. It's a smart move, as Intel is a leader in this area, even though they're not very well known for it by the public. Two different ICs combine forces to provide the MAC and PHY functions; the WGG82574L and the WG82579LM. The latter chip was just launched in 1Q2011, so both Intel and QNAP are keeping things current in this area. We'll see later, in our RAID testing, just how critical Ethernet performance is to a product like this.

QNAP_TS-879U-RP_Turbo_NAS_Server_Intel_GbE_Montage.jpg

To measure isolated NAS power consumption, Benchmark Reviews uses the Kill-A-Watt EZ (model P4460) power meter made by P3 International. I had both of the redundant power supplies plugged in to the meter, because that's the way 99.99% of users will run a device like this. Obviously, power consumption is going to depend heavily on the number and type of drives that are installed. The power draw also depends heavily on the fan speed that's required to keep the unit cool. When the device first starts up and the fans are going 100%, 215 W is consumed at first, then it tapers down to 165W. Once the system completes its boot process, and gets into idle standby mode, the QNAP TS-879U-RP consumed 133 watts of electricity. This is right in line with the 130W specified by QNAP for a system with eight 1TB drives installed. With all eight drives installed and during heavy file transfer operations, it drew 155W. When the system goes into Sleep Mode and spins all the drives down, the power is reduced to 84 watts. When the unit is turned off, it still consumes 7W in Vampire mode; be aware that even when it's turned off, the two SMPS modules still pull a small amount of power.

We've seen the ins and outs of the hardware, the new software, and the technology under the hood; now let's take a detailed look through the extensive list of features that you get with most every QNAP Turbo NAS. I know the next couple of sections are overly long, but it's critical to understand just how much these units can do. You don't want to be fooled into thinking it's just a big box full of drives. It's capable of so much more than that.



 

Comments 

 
# I3 with AES-Ni ?Moogle Stiltzkin 2012-02-16 02:29
Since when did Intel I3's have AES-Ni instruction ?

QNAP currently only has 2 rack models with the x79 name that has XEON cpus which do have AES-Ni.

But the other X79 models only have Intel I3 cpus, and last i checked they didn't have AES-Ni instructions on them ..... yet your saying otherwise ? Got any references for that ?

However despite that, Jason from QNAP is claiming their tests on the 879U-RP with AES encryption could achieve 100MB/s in both read & write in Gigabit environment.

His a trustable guy so i'll believe that :X but what i doubt is your claim that i3 cpus have AES-Ni ....
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# Face Palm...Bruce 2012-02-16 06:08
Just looked it up on Intel site, and you're right. There are 141 products with AES-NI. No i3's though.
ark.intel.com/search/advanced?AESTech=true

Well, I've got some re-writing to do....

FWIW, my initial testing with AES-256 supports Jason's claims. The GbE bottleneck is the dominant factor.

Thanks for pointing this out.
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# RE: QNAP TS-879U-RP NAS Network Storage Rack ServerMoogle Stiltzkin 2012-02-16 06:35
yeah, all that matters is the result. doesn't matter if it has AES-Ni or not (although it's good to have since it's suppose to accelerate AES encryption so why not) since all comes down to whether it can perform well even with AES 256 encryption enabled.

Jason says it does 100 mb/s and that in my opinion is very good. I was worried and confused why they opted for the i3's which are basically almost the same as i5's but without the aes-ni. But from the results, seems my worries were unfounded ? As i was expecting results like these which was an article by tomshardware showing how bad performance was on many NAS brands across the board that didn't use encryption acceleration such as AES-Ni.

##tomshardware.com/reviews/nas-encryption-aes-ni,2873.html


Anyway i wonder if you would be kind enough to add to your review, a chart showing AES 256 encryption performance of the i3 QNAP to help back up Jason's claim. I trust Jason, but other people who don't know him will want proof from third party sites like yours to see if what QNAP claims is true or not.

I'm also interested to know whether the other i3 QNAP models such as the 1079 can achieve the same good results for aes 256 encryption, as well as compare the results with Synology Diskstation DS3611xs which sports a Intel® Xeon® Processor E3-1225 cpu.
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# Follow-Up testingBruce Bruce 2012-02-16 07:07
Yes, I plan to do a follow-up article which will focus on performance improvements with the optional 10GbE interface, and to document the AES-256 performance. Take a look at the last chart in the NAS System Overhead Measurements section of this article. That's one of the tests I ran with AES-256 enabled, and the CPU looks like it still has some headroom left, when running of the Gigabit interface. I'll have full results in the follow-up article.
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# RE: QNAP TS-879U-RP NAS Network Storage Rack ServerMoogle Stiltzkin 2012-02-16 06:44
Quote:
FWIW, my initial testing with AES-256 supports Jason's claims. The GbE bottleneck is the dominant factor.


And lets not forget conventional hard drives may also be a bottle neck ?


The fastest read and write maximum throughput for a hard drive is Seagate's New Barracuda 3TB (ST3000DM001)

##anandtech.com/show/5042/seagates-new-barracuda-3tb-st3000dm001-review


Read Throughput Maximum: h2benchw 3.16
193.55
##tomshardware.com/charts/hdd-charts-2012/Read-Throughput-Maximum-h2benchw-3.16,2900.html


Write Throughput Maximum: h2benchw 3.16'
191.47
##tomshardware.com/charts/hdd-charts-2012/Write-Throughput-Maximum-h2benchw-3.16,2903.html
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# 8xBruce Bruce 2012-02-16 07:12
I'll be running RAID 5 with eight drives, though.

I don't expect to reach the same speeds that QNAP did with (8) Intel SSDs, but I'm betting it will still be way above what the unit does with the Gigabit interface.
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# RE: QNAP TS-879U-RP NAS Network Storage Rack ServerMoogle Stiltzkin 2012-02-16 07:11
regarding your last con, well some desktop drives can be used fine for raid.
For me, i've used 6 x SAMSUNG HD203WI for a long time and they work fine on my QNAP ts-659 pro II.


QNAP and other branded NAS, tend to ignore tler, so it's not critical for these nases when using raid seeing as it's not being used.

Quote:
The responses I received from Synology, QNAP, NETGEAR and Buffalo all indicated that their NAS RAID controllers don't depend on or even listen to TLER, CCTL, ERC or any other similar error recovery signal from their drives. Instead, their software RAID controllers have their own criteria for drive timeouts, retries and when a drive is finally marked bad.

##smallnetbuilder.com/nas/nas-features/31202-should-you-use-tler-drives-in-your-raid-nas


however samsung has sold off their hard drive business to Seagate who bought their hd unit out.

So the only other manufacturer that offered some good desktop raid drives was Hitachi i believe which was the Hitachi Deskstar 7K3000 3TB which is a desktop drive that works fine in raid for say a QNAP.

##storagereview.com/hitachi_deskstar_7k3000_3tb_review_hds723030ala640


The desktop drives you should be wary about for using raid are western digital and seagate, which intentionally make it problematic in a raid setup, by dropping out very often to make you buy their x2 expensive raid edition drives.
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# Some work fine.....Bruce Bruce 2012-02-16 07:44
The Spinpoint F3 was a favorite for NAS use, no doubt. Other readers have also reported good luck with their Hitachi Deskstars. You'll see similar reports on the QNAP support forums. I'm somewhat concerned that most reports are from users with smaller NAS units, where the combined vibration of 8-12 drives is not present. It's bearing failure, as much as controller quirks that cause HDD failures.

Samsung drives are still being built to the old designs/specs for now, right? Get them while you can, I think....
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# The 20 should be closser to 2. bits vs Bytes.tygrus 2012-02-22 03:05
"twenty times faster than what the latest generation of SSDs can muster"
Sorry but 10GbE =
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# Comment system ate my commenttygrus 2012-02-22 03:41
There was some mathematical symbols in my previous comment. The comment has been truncated.
...
10GbE =lt 1250MBps. 500MBps = 4800Mbps.
Reasonable sound level for a device to be in a server room.
Too loud for home use.
Would like to see aditional testing with multiple clients or larger queue depth. Need to beg someone for some 10GbE hardware.
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# 10GbE is comingBruce 2012-02-22 06:00
Next week I'll have two Intel 10GbE NICs. I'll just have the one PC, but would RoboCopy, with it's multithreaded operation get closer to the multiple client scenario?
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# Updated Results in New ArticleBruce 2012-03-21 08:00
Just wanted to let all of you know that I completed the additional testing, with 10GbE NICs and a RAM Disk on the PC.

Wow! What a difference.

Check out the results in my follow-up article here: benchmarkreviews.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=882&Itemid=70
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# RE: QNAP TS-879U-RP NAS Network Storage Rack ServerMoogle Stiltzkin 2012-03-21 08:09
Nice :} just read it.
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