|QNAP TS-879U-RP 10GbE NAS Server|
|Reviews - Featured Reviews: Network|
|Written by Bruce Normann|
|Monday, 19 March 2012|
Page 10 of 10
QNAP TS-879U-RP 10GbE Upgrade Conclusion
This is not a full review of the QNAP TS-879U-RP Turbo NAS Server. For that, please refer to the previous article from last month. This article is a follow-up, which reviews the additional performance obtained with the optional 10GbE Network Interface Card, and the performance of the unit with AES 256-bit Volume-based Data Encryption. In addition, I included a new test protocol, which has recently been enabled on the Windows 7 platform. Because of the limited scope of this article, I won't be re-evaluating the product ratings for the TS-879U-RP; the original ratings in the full review are still applicable. Even though I was able to wring out significantly better performance from the unit with the enhancements I implemented, I believe my initial impressions are still accurate.
The raw file transfer rate of the QNAP TS-879U-RP Turbo NAS server was about four times faster with the 10GbE network card installed. Looking at simple file transfers, both Read and Write speeds were in the range of 450 MB/s, which is outstanding performance. I knew that the platform was capable of much better than I was able to achieve with the base Gigabit Ethernet connectivity. I wasn't sure how far I could push this NAS with 7200 RPM HDDs, though. Many of the Enterprise-class HDD products have migrated to the Serial-Attached-SCSI (SAS) interface, which is not supported on this unit, so 10,000 or 15,000 RPM drives were not going to be a readily available option. Enterprise-class SSDs are coming into their own though, and QNAP has posted some very impressive results from their test labs, using eight Intel C510 120GB units.
Performance with FIPS 140-2 Certified, AES 256-bit Volume-based Data Encryption enabled was much lower, even with the 10GbE interface. The read and write speeds were slightly better than what the base model TS-879U-RP delivered with GbE connectivity, but nowhere near the level that the un-encrypted configuration provided. The Intel Core i3-2120 CPU, which is a dual-core member of the Sandy Bridge family, doesn't support 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. You have to move up to the Quad-core E3-1225 Intel Xeon Processor in the TS-EC879U-RP version, with ECC memory, in order to get that capability. It makes sense - if you care enough about your data to protect it with AES 256-bit encryption, you probably want to ensure its integrity with ECC memory.
The Appearance and Construction Quality of the unit aren't changed by the addition of a dedicated 10GbE NIC, so there's nothing to mention there. The Functionality doesn't change directly, but the performance of that functionality does, in the case of AES 256-bit encryption. The capability was usable with the base configuration, and remains so with the enhanced network bandwidth. Unfortunately, the performance with encrypted drives did not scale up as well as it did without encryption, and gains of only about 20% were realized. In my mind, that difference doesn't really change the functionality, so the product rating is unaffected.
The value proposition for the QNAP TS-879U-RP Turbo NAS Server is definitely impacted by the ability to add a $700 NIC and consequently increase the raw performance by a factor of four. The difference is akin to adding a dedicated video card to your PC, to take over rendering duties from an integrated graphics processor. Yes, it's a significant price adder, but the boost in performance is even more significant. Given the increasing number of roles that a modern NAS is capable of assuming, that substantially higher level of throughput might be a game changer. Value is one of the only ratings that might be impacted by the enhanced networking performance that's available with the optional NIC.
As of March 2012 the diskless TS-879U-RP model was listed for $2899.99 at Newegg, or for the same price $2899.99 from Amazon. Newegg also sells the high-end Network Interface Cards you need to implement 10GbE networking. If you've only got short distances to cover, it's probably easier to stick with Cat 6 wiring, and I was very happy with the performance of the two Intel NICs I purchased for this project. The Intel E10G42BT, X520-T2, 10Gbps Ethernet NIC is on QNAP's compatibility list and sells for $689.99 at Newegg. The Intel E10G41AT2, 10Gbps Ethernet NIC is also available at Newegg for $512.00, in case you just need a single 10GbE connection on one of your other devices. They're both compatible with a wide variety of operating systems, including Windows 7. That's not always a given, for enterprise-class hardware. Windows Server - yes, Linux - yes, VMware - yes. Consumer OS's are usually a maybe for this type of product; make doubly sure it's compatible before you buy, and check the relevant support forums for confirmation from the user base.
My first testing experience with the QNAP TS-879U-RP was like doing a test drive of a modern-day Ferrari with the Valet Key. Yeah, I could tell I was driving a vehicle that had incredible performance potential, but I couldn't access it. Fortunately, all it took was $700 and a screwdriver to remedy that situation. I now feel like I've given this NAS a proper test and one that you probably won't find elsewhere. 10GbE test platforms are few and far between at the moment, and Benchmark Reviews is committed to staying at the leading edge of technology reviews.
+ 432 / 463 MB/s best read/write performance
- 10GbE NICS are expensive (~ $700 each)
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