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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

ATTO Disk Benchmark Results

In addition to straight file transfer testing, I also ran the ATTO Disk Benchmark on the QNAP TS-879U-RP Turbo NAS Server, which is easy once a drive mapping is created on the host PC. 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. Our standard test settings for this benchmark use a queue depth of 4, and I also ran additional tests with the maximum queue depth available in this benchmark, which is 10. Heavy database usage can drive queue depth up to 32 or more, and this level is available on some other drive benchmarking suites. ATTO stops at 10, however, so we'll take a look at how much impact that has on the results.

First, let's look at the results with the standard GbE interface, and un-encrypted drives. This is sort of the baseline, as we want to see how much AES-256 encryption reduces the performance and we want to see how much the enhanced Ethernet connection improves the performance. With the basic GbE interface in place, a familiar performance pattern is seen. Neither the Read nor Write portions of the test can break past the 120 MB/s barrier put in place by the 1000BASE-T network connection. The good news is that the NAS reaches its peak performance with just 32kB data chunks.

QNAP_TS-879U-RP_Turbo_NAS_Server_ATTO-RAID-5-8-Disks-01.jpg

As expected, the results with a 10GbE connection show huge gains. The Write speed reaches a peak of 457 MB/s and hits over 90% of that peak value at the 64kB step. It dips a little after the 1MB data size, but never drops below 92% of the peak. The Read speed hits an incredible peak of 679 MB/s at the two largest data sizes, and although it rises steadily during the test, it hits 95% of the peak value by the 512kB data chunk. This is an impressive performance improvement, and it pushes the TS-879U-RP NAS so far out in front of previously tested systems, that it almost creates a new category.

QNAP_TS-879U-RP_Turbo_NAS_10GbE_Server_ATTO_10GbE_P08.png

Adding in AES-256 bit volume encryption to the equation, the peak Write test results fall back to levels more like those we saw with the GbE network connection. The maximum write speed was 144 MB/s at the 128kB level. The write speed plateaued after the 16kB chunk size, where it first gets above 132MB/s. Using the Direct I/O setting, Read performance in this benchmark was not affected by the data encryption. Peak read speed came at the largest data level of 8192kB, and it actually surpassed the reading for the un-encrypted drives with a top tally of 698MB/s. Once again, top notch performance numbers that blow all previous units out of the water.

QNAP_TS-879U-RP_Turbo_NAS_10GbE_Server_ATTO_10GbE_AES_P23.png

Increasing the Queue Depth from 4 to 10 didn't affect the peak performance numbers as much as it caused a bunch of variations at the different data chunk levels. The read speeds were particularly unstable, and you can see the green bars wandering all over the place in the chart below. They did hit a new high, though, with a top reading of 736 MB/s at the 256kB level. Write speeds were more uniform, with scores in the 430-456 MB/s range, starting at the rather low 32kB chunk size. I would call this good performance at the higher queue depth, and it's more than likely a testament to the 8 separate disks that make up the RAID 5 volume. It's no surprise that large disk arrays are the solution of choice for heavy database applications. The more drives you have in service, the more drive failures you're going to experience. Apparently, this is one case where the 24/7 performance advantage outweighs the occasional failure.

QNAP_TS-879U-RP_Turbo_NAS_10GbE_Server_ATTO_10GbE_QD10_P24.png

Before we leave the ATTO Disk Benchmark results, let's take a quick look at the QNAP Resource Monitor. During one of the benchmark runs with AES 256-bit encryption enabled, the read and write speeds are shown in stark contrast, laid on top of one another in real time. As the data chunk size increases, the read speed keeps going up, while the write speed is stuck in the 120-140 MB/s range. That's a result of the Direct I/O setting on the ATTO disk benchmark. A few minutes later you can see the traces for some timed 10GB file transfers, and the proof that without the Direct I/O path into the NAS, the read speeds fall back to normal levels.

QNAP_TS-879U-RP_Turbo_NAS_10GbE_Server_ATTO_10GbE_AES_NIC_P25.png

ATTO has been used for a long time at Benchmark Reviews, since the early days of HDD testing, through the journey of trials and tribulations that accompanied the first several generations of SSDs, with all their benchmarking peculiarities. In the NAS arena, I appreciate the fact that it's one of the few drive testing programs that will work on a NAS that's been mapped to a drive letter by the host OS. It also has some nuances that need to be considered, but I believe there's strength in diversity. The more test applications I can use, the better understanding we can achieve about a product, IMHO.

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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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