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Written by Bruce Normann   
Monday, 19 March 2012
Table of Contents: Page Index
QNAP TS-879U-RP 10GbE NAS Server
Closer Look: 10GbE QNAP TS-879U-RP
QNAP TS-879U-RP NAS Hardware
NAS Testing Methodology
RAID 5 Test Results
Intel NASPT Test Results
ATTO Disk Benchmark Results
NAS System Overhead Measurements
NAS Server Final Thoughts
QNAP TS-879U-RP 10GbE Conclusion

Network Terminology

Benchmark Reviews primarily uses metric data measurement for testing storage products, for anyone who is interested in learning the relevant history of this sore spot in the industry, I've included a small explanation below:

The basic unit data measurement is called a bit (one single binary digit). Computers use these bits, which are composed of ones and zeros, to communicate their contents. All files are stored as binary files, and translated into working files by the Operating System. This two number system is called a "binary number system". In comparison, the decimal number system has ten unique digits consisting of zero through nine. Essentially it boils down to differences between binary and metric measurements, because testing is deeply impacted without carefully separating the two. For example, the difference between the transfer time of a one-Gigabyte (1000 Megabytes) file is going to be significantly better than a true binary Gigabyte (referred to as a Gibibyte) that contains 1024 Megabytes. The larger the file used for data transfer, the bigger the difference will be.

Have you ever wondered why your 500 GB hard drive only has about 488 GB once it has been formatted? Most Operating Systems utilize the binary number system to express file data size, however the prefixes for the multiples are based on the metric system. So even though a metric "Kilo" equals 1,000, a binary "Kilo" equals 1,024. Are you confused yet? Don't be surprised, because even the most tech savvy people often mistake the two. Plainly put, the Kilobyte is expressed as 1000 bytes, but it is really comprised of 1,024 bytes.

Most network engineers are not fully aware that the IEC changed the way we calculate and name data chunks when they published the new International Standards back in December 1998. The International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) removed the old metric prefixes for multiples in binary code with new prefixes for binary multiples made up of only the first two letters of the metric prefixes and adding the first two letters of the word "binary". For example, instead of Megabyte (MB) or Gigabyte (GB), the new terms would be Mebibyte (MiB) or Gibibyte (GiB). While this is the new official IEC International Standard, it has not been widely adopted yet because it is either still unknown by institutions or not commonly used.

NAS Testing Methodology

All the NAS devices we test cannot accommodate all the different disk configurations, so our current test protocol is based on two of the most popular setups: a basic (single) disk and RAID-5. Most NAS products that can support RAID 5 go beyond the minimum number of drive bays, to a total of four, so that is the number of drives that I typically use to test with, even though I could get by with only three. I took advantage of the massive capacity that the QNAP TS-879U-RP offers, and tested it with the full complement of eight identical drives. During initial setup, the NAS was upgraded to the latest v3.5.2.1126 firmware by flashing the DOM with binary files from QNAP's website. The firmware installed on the TS-879U-RP was v3.4.3.0331 when I received it, and the same version was included on a CD-ROM provided in the accessory kit.

The emphasis for this round of testing was to see how much faster the QNAP TS-879U-RP could run, once the GbE bottleneck was removed. To accomplish that, we installed Intel 10GbE NICs in both the NAS and the host PC. QNAP has several 10GbE options on their list of compatible NICs, and I chose the Intel X520-T2 model (E10G42BT) to install in the NAS, as it is one of the few models that directly supports regular CAT6 cables. For the host PC, I had pretty much free reign to choose, as long as I stuck to copper wiring. I decided on the Intel E10G41AT2 because I wanted to ensure network compatibility, and because of my positive experience with Intel NICs in the GbE world. Their drivers and utilities have been top notch, with a very comprehensive feature set, and easy to use. I have no need for long cable runs in my test area, but those that do will want to look at models that support fiber optic cables. CAT6a cables are good for 100 meter wire runs with these two NICs, which is about 97 meters longer than I needed.

With the 10GbE network physically in place, all tests were conducted with Jumbo Frame enabled, i.e. the MTU value for the Ethernet controllers was set to 9000. All the NAS products tested to date in the Windows 7 environment have supported the Jumbo Frame configuration. With only one port available on the Intel E1041AT2, the two NICs were not able to operate in IEEE 802.3ad mode, commonly called Link Aggregation Control Protocol (LACP). In a Windows environment, with one host PC and one NAS, LACP does not provide twice the bandwidth, unless there is an equal amount of data being sent and received at the same time. In a multi-user situation, with the appropriate network switches in place, you are more likely to see the benefits of Dynamic Link Aggregation. I used Intel's Advanced Networking Services (ANS) driver on the host PC, which is standard issue with their high-end NICs.

QNAP_TS-879U-RP_Turbo_NAS_10GbE_Server_Intel_10GbE_Adapter_P07.png

With the network up to speed, the next potential bottleneck that needed attention is the disk system on the host PC. In previous tests, we relied on the third generation OCZ Agility SSD, which is good for at least 500 MB/s, input or output, on the appropriate Intel Platform Controller Hub. QNAP has achieved over 1500 MB/s with the TS-879U-RP in their tests, so it was time to bypass the SSD on our test rig and install a RAM Disk. There are at least a dozen products on the market that will create and manage a RAM Disk on Windows systems; I chose RAMDisk v3.5.1.130R22 from Dataram based on performance tests in several reviews (we read 'em, too....) and its reasonable cost structure. I needed to assign at least 10GB of space to the RAM Disk, in order to replicate the test protocol I've been using for all my NAS testing, so none of the freeware products looked suitable. One other trick was necessary, to get the RAM Disk to access files larger than 2GB, I had to use the Convert utility in Windows 7 to make the RAM Disk an NTFS volume. Then I was able to perform the file transfers with 10GB files, no problem. If you want to avoid this extra step, be sure to look for a RAM Disk product that directly supports the NTFS file system.

QNAP_TS-879U-RP_Turbo_NAS_10GbE_Server_RAMDisk.jpg

The actual throughput testing followed our standard methodology, with the NAS directly connected to the LAN controller in the test-bench system by ten-foot CAT6 patch cables. The NAS product receives one test transfer followed by at least three timed transfers. Each test file was sent to the Western Digital Caviar Black 750GB (WD7502AAEX) hard drives installed in the NAS for a timed write test, and that same file was sent back to the RAMDisk in the test system to perform a read test. Each test was repeated several times, the high and low values were discarded and the remaining results were recorded and charted.

In addition to straight throughput testing, I also ran the ATTO Disk Benchmark on the NAS, which is easy to do once a drive mapping is created on the host PC. Our standard test settings use a queue depth of 4, and I also ran additional tests with the maximum queue depth available in this benchmark, which is 10.

QNAP_TS-879U-RP_Turbo_NAS_10GbE_Server_ATTO_10GbE_P08.png

For the first time, I also ran the Intel NAS Performance Toolkit (NASPT) version 1.7.1, which was originally designed to run on a Windows XP client. People smarter than me have figured out how to run it under Windows 7, including the 64-bit version that is used more often than the 32-bit version these days. Like most computer gurus, they openly shared their new-found knowledge with the rest of us, and now we can duplicate and expand their results. NASPT brings an important perspective to our test protocol, as it is designed to measure the performance of a NAS system as viewed from the end user's perspective. Benchmarks like ATTO use Direct I/O Access to accurately measure disk performance with minimal influence from the OS and the host platform. This provides important, objective data that can be used to measure raw, physical performance. While it's critical to measure the base performance, it's also important to quantify what you can expect using real-world applications, and that's exactly what NASPT does. One of the disadvantages of NASPT is that it is influenced by the amount of memory installed on the client, and it was designed for systems that had 2-4 GB of RAM. Consequently, two of the tests give unrealistic results, because they are measuring the speed of the buffer on the client, instead of the actual NAS performance. For that reason, we will ignore the results for "HD Video Record" and "File Copy to NAS".

QNAP_TS-879U-RP_Turbo_NAS_10GbE_Server_NASPT_Sample_P09.png

We are continuing our NAS testing with the exclusive use of Windows 7 as the testing platform for the host system. The performance differences between Win7 and XP are huge, as we documented in our QNAP TS-259 Pro review. The adoption rate for Win 7 has been very high, and Benchmark Reviews has been using Win 7 in all of our other testing for some time now. It was definitely time to make the jump for NAS products.

NAS Comparison Products

Support Equipment

  • (8) Western Digital Caviar Black WD7502AAEX 750GB 7200 RPM 64MB Cache SATA 6.0Gb/s 3.5"
  • (2) 10-Foot Category 6 Enhanced 550 MHZ Shielded Twisted Pair Patch Cable
  • Intel E10G42BT, X520-T2, 10Gbps Ethernet NIC, PCIe 2.0 x8, 2x CAT6a
  • Intel E10G41AT2, 10Gbps Ethernet NIC, PCIe 2.0 x8, 1x CAT6a
  • Dataram RAMDisk v3.5.1.130R22
  • Intel NAS Performance Toolkit (NASPT) version 1.7.1
  • ATTO Disk Benchmark v2.47
  • 1 metric Gigabyte Test File (1 GB = 1,000,000,000 bytes)
  • 10 metric Gigabyte Test File (10 GB = 10,000,000,000 bytes)

Test System



 

Comments 

 
# Ok test 10GbE but ..Federico La Morgia 2012-03-28 01:54
Test with 8xocz agility3 raid-0 for the maximum performance on the transfer rate 10GbE???
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# RE: Ok test 10GbE but ..Olin Coles 2012-03-28 07:03
Sure! Would you like our address so you can send them to us?
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# RE: RE: Ok test 10GbE but ..Federico La Morgia 2012-03-28 07:36
Unfortunately I have not, however, try to ask them directly to OCZ
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# Might be fun, but...Bruce 2012-03-28 07:23
The results would be totally unrealistic. The great majority of users of this hardware are going to be stuffing it with mechanical HDDs, just because they need the capacity. I haven't seen any 2TB or 3TB SSDs around, have you? Also, anyone using an SSD in this type of application is going to have to use a very limited subset of SSDs - models that are specificallly designed for hard 24/7 RAID usage, without any TRIM support to keep the NAND cells fresh. The AGILITY uses "budget" flash memory, and any data center systems engineer who specified one for this kind of usage would be fired for incompetence.

So, I would be happy to use the QNAP TS-879U-RP to test some SSD makers' new enterprise-class drives, and run them hard, in a realistic test case. But, just stuffing some consumer grade devices in the NAS to push it closer to 10Gbps throughput doesn't really do much for me.... I "get" why QNAP tested it that way, but I also think it would have been useful for them to publish additional test results with enterprise-class HDDs.
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# RE: Might be fun, but...Federico La Morgia 2012-03-28 07:40
the case of 8xSSD SATA3 in Raid-0 (as well as also the same in Raid-6 both normal and degraded discs 1-2) is used to understand the goodness of the disk controller present and / or the ultizzo cpu in operations in which need for high performance!
Use the SSD so you need to understand the physical limitations inherent in the product, it is obvious that no one ever use this product with SSDs, but the fact remains that with the HDD will never get to know the limits of the Qnap as well as any 'NAS or other product that has or needs to introduce SATA mass storage.
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# SSD vertex 3Guy-Michel 2012-07-16 06:21
Hi we are planning use qnap either 879 or ts-ec879U-RP as a san unit for vmware it realistic? To boost performance we would could reuse ocz vertex 3 and 4 480.Second choice would be to put 480 ssd deneva from ocz for are database terminal server and accounting. would you recommand that? Or should we check to put the fastest sata available in raid 10 if supported.
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# RE: SSD vertex 3Olin Coles 2012-07-16 06:54
Please provide a little more detail. Will you use only one SSD, or several in RAID? Will the NAS receive backups, or merely run with redundancy?
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# detail in my mind :-)Guy-Michel 2012-07-16 07:09
would say that the main goal would be to have an array 4x480 vertex 4 let's say. the second array would be raid 10 fastest sata 6 we can find like Hitachi Deskstar 7K3000 or barracuda for file server and less critical vm machine.
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# further more detailGuy-Michel 2012-07-16 07:28
Just to complete obove my plan is to use the qnap like SAN for datastore in vmware esxi5.If test is speed wise acceptable we gone build arround that.While re-using are actual vmhost with individual ssd drive. we gone put these ssd in a QNAP with ISCSI SAN probably upgrade the ethernet to 10gige adapter and finaly bring a cluster for HA.that the overall plan. Be able to acheive HA whitout breaking the bank.
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# HA...??Bruce 2012-07-16 07:37
What is HA ?? I have never heard that acronym.
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# RE: HA...??Guy-Michel 2012-07-16 07:39
it is a accronym (H)igh (A)vailability.
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# RE: detail in my mind :-)Bruce 2012-07-16 07:32
Even though it says on the QNAP website: "...QNAP NAS supports advanced RAID configurations and multiple RAID volumes on a single NAS." I don't believe you can actually set up two separate RAID arrays on one NAS. Is that what you are proposing, two arrays of four drives each one one TS-879 machine? I don't think that's possible. Try posting that question on the QNAP forums, one of the QNAP representatives will give you confirmation.

You CAN set up multiple iSCSI targets and/or multiple LUNs one one device, but they would all reside on one physical RAID volume.
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# Lucky You...Bruce 2012-07-16 07:00
I would use the Enterprise Class SSDs if you can afford it. They have superior wear-leveling routines built into them. Remember, the operating system on the QNAP is not doing anything to keep the NAND refreshed on the SSDs, unlike consumer systems. I know OCZ and other vendors have been improving the "wear resistance" of all their SSD offerings, but the OCZ Denaeva will still have the most capable systems for keeping the performance up in this sort of usage.

RAID 10 (0r RAID 20)is usually best for database applications. RAID 5 can be slower in Write operations. Do you have the ability to set the system up in a test environment? I would strongly encourage that, so you can try the different configurations.
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# QNAP 10GbE PromotionBruce 2012-04-06 07:12
BTW, QNAP is bundling a 10GbE NIC with some models.
Details here: #qnap.com/static/landing/10gbe_en.html

Did I inspire them...? LOL
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# RE: QNAP 10GbE PromotionSébastien 2012-06-08 02:04
Any idea what transfer rate could be achieved if USB 3.0 was used instead of 10 Gbe (RAID5, same disks)?
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# At the max, maybeBruce 2012-06-08 08:10
From Wikipedia: The "SuperSpeed" bus provides a transfer mode at 5.0 Gbit/s additionally to the three existing transfer modes. The raw throughput is 4 Gbit/s, and the specification considers it reasonable to achieve 3.2 Gbit/s (0.4 GB/s or 400 MB/s) or more.

I got more than 450MB/s in ACTUAL real-world throughput, which is slightly more than the USB-IF expects the USB 3.0 connection to handle, so I would say that using USB instead of Ethernet would throttle the bandwidth somewhat. Of course, you lose all the advantages of having the device sitting directly on the network, which is a major feature of this and any other NAS.
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# USB 3.0Sébastien 2012-06-08 10:22
You are right but my plan is to share the NAS between 5 computers with slow streaming capability (connected to a 1 Gbe switch) and one or two close workstations with fast streaming capability (connected to the USB 3.0 ports). Do you know if this hybrid mode is supported? Do you confirm 450 MB/s with the NAS configuration you described and USB 3.0?

In case of simultaneous streaming what total throughput can I expect... could the NAS handle 2x450 + 100 MB/s = 1000 MB/s? That should be supported by 8 high end disks but I do not know if the processor can handle a RAID5 encoding/decoding at this rate...

Last question: is it possible to wire the NAS with two 1 Gbe cables to the switch and handle two 100 MB/s streams from two different computers? Is it seamless - I mean would the computers all see a single disk or is it more complex to aggregate?
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# Not recommendedBruce 2012-06-08 11:48
You are not going to be able to manage all these data streams with a quasi-network of USB connections connected to the TS-879U-RP.

Your best bet would be to get a 10GbE switch, like the one I mentioned from Cisco, in the review. That way, all your workstations can get the bandwidth they need, and you have the bandwidth for future expansion.
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# USB 3.0Sébastien 2012-06-08 12:35
Five of the computers connected to the NAS are old and run LOW profile hard drives (max 50 MB/s), it is very unlikely that more than 2 of them access the NAS simultaneously and none is equipped with 10Gbe adapters. Only a single (possibly 2 in the future) workstation is able to transfer data at a rate over 500 MB/s and it is the computer I expect to transfer the largest amount of data.

Given this situation I think that the 10Gbe switch + many 10Gbe adapters is overkilling... I thought USB 3.0 would be very well suited to this kind of unsymmetric and non simulataneous access scenario. Where do you exactly see a problem? Do you think that the hybrid mode cannot work in practice or were you only saying the NAS cannot handle two USB 3.0 streams at 450 MB/s?
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# Not too many 10GbE....Bruce 2012-06-08 13:02
The 10GbE switch I mentioned has only two 10GbE ports, the rest are all just GbE. That way, the individual workstation loads get aggreagated by the switch. The 10GbE ports are usually just fot rhe NAS, but you could put your workstation into one of them.

My main issue is that all the software for this, and most NAS devices, is designed and optimized to work in an Ethernet environment, not an ad-hoc USB network. The capabilities while connected via USB will be severly restricted. Upload and download, via a couple of built-in scripts, that's all.

FWIW, I'm never been impressed by the performance of USB with external drives. I guess I should test this one before I pull it apart...
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# RE: Not too many 10GbE....Sébastien 2012-06-08 13:38
I get your point and I have no doubt 10Gbe is well more efficient than USB 3.0 but I guess the price of the 10Gbe switch you mention would be well over the price of the NAS itself so I am afraid I cannot afford this extra cost. Still I would be really happy with the 450 MB/s you reported over USB 3.0 and I guess it will not interfere with the traffic over the 1Gbe port since the transfer will (a priori) not be simultaneous. My worry is more about the configuration of the system in ethernet / USB hybrid mode: is it prepared for this or is it thought to work exclusively in USB or ethernet mode?

Note: If you ever get the chance to test dual USB 3.0 transfer from two different computers ... :)

Thanks a lot for your help!
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# IT ConsultantsHenri 2012-11-14 23:26
Hi,
have such a box installed as ESXI 5.1 storage. Monday this week, the ESXI 5.1 freezed about 15 times after installing a additional RAID0 with 2 Samsung 830 512GB SSDs. Box is attached by 2* 10Gbit Intel X520 DA2.
Stopped to access this DataStore seams to fix the problem.
Support of QNAP always recommands to reset the box to the factory setup. Not very helpful.
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# Multiple RAID VolumesBruce Normann 2012-11-15 06:35
Does the firmware you are using support multiple RAID volumes? Last time I checked you couldn't do that. Multiple LUNs, yes....but that's not the same thing as a new RAID volume. There are some devices out there thad support multiple volumes, just not sure if QNAP added that capability since I last inquired.
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