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Reviews - Featured Reviews: Network
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

NAS Server Final Thoughts

My first and solemn duty is to remind everyone that relying on a collection of drives in any RAID configuration for data backup purposes is a huge error. RAID systems provide protection against loss of services, not loss of data. Multiple drives in a common system, in a single location do not provide effective and reliable data backup. I've harped on this for about a year now, so I hope the message got through, at some point.

Beyond the questions of availability, reliability, data recovery and capacity, there is also the question of the overwhelming bandwidth that this kind of hardware is capable of pushing out the business end of its enclosure. The one thing that was made painfully clear to me in this extended review is this: there is a growing chorus of high performance devices singing the swan song for 1000BASE-T as the network interface of choice. Maybe the new standard ought to be 10GbE, maybe it should be Thunderbolt, or maybe we're ready to move over to fiber for system-level interconnects, but we are right now at the tipping point where common devices are starting to overload the current networking standard. You would think, that with Ethernet performance going up by a factor of ten every few years, that it would be well ahead of Moore's law. Never mind being so far ahead of archaic spinning magnetic disks that it shouldn't even be a contest. But no - put four or eight of those ancient mechanical devices in a box, with some SOTA silicon to support it and voila, bandwidth limiting in the extreme.


The results we got when the networking bottleneck was removed are nothing short of amazing. After several years of testing leading-edge video cards, I'm used to 50% and 100% improvements in processing speed, with every new product cycle and technology node (45nm, 32nm, 28nm...) steadily pushing the bar higher and higher. A 400% speed increase is a shocking experience, even though I was pretty much expecting it. The only problem is that speed is addictive. Once you've experienced it, everything else is so frustratingly slow. Plus, it's never free, is it? In this case, it's not just the one NAS device that needs to be updated; at least one other device on the network needs to have a compatible interface. If your network architecture dictates that a 10GbE switch is required, expect to pay at least $3,000. If you're tying the NAS to a server as dedicated storage, you can get by for under $1,000.

Even though the QNAP TS-879U-RP is not a product that many readers of Benchmark Reviews will ever contemplate purchasing for home or personal use, it makes a lot of sense for larger organizations. There are certainly some of you out there with day jobs that need this level of performance, and now it's available at a distinctly lower cost than previous hard-core storage solutions. No, I'm not bi-polar; I know the last paragraph listed some eye-opening costs for implementing 10GbE; it's just that the sticker shock factor is an order of magnitude higher in the business world. Plus, this is worker productivity you're buying here, not an "enhanced user experience". Mention check-in and check-out times to most CADD designers or video editors, and they'll get this sad expression on their face. Mention it to their managers and they'll talk about their department's growing backlog, along with the fact that they really can't push their people any harder because there are technology limits holding them back. It's time for IT to be the hero again, instead of the millstone around their neck.

So, what conclusions can we draw from our massive performance upgrade of this high performance, eight-bay TS-879U-RP Turbo NAS server? Click NEXT to find out, and discuss...



# 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:

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
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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