|Thecus N5550 NAS Network Storage Server|
|Reviews - Featured Reviews: Network|
|Written by Bruce Normann|
|Tuesday, 25 September 2012|
Page 12 of 15
Intel NASPT Test 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. In keeping with the real-world scenario, I only run these tests on the RAID 5 configurations, since that is what most users with a mid-size NAS are going to use. It just doesn't make sense to run realistic test scenarios on unrealistic hardware configurations.
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 with modern systems, because they are measuring the speed of the buffer on the client, instead of the actual NAS performance. For that reason, we will completely ignore the results for "HD Video Record" and "File Copy to NAS". Shown here is a batch run of 5 cycles through the tests, which turned out to be a bit slower than the individual runs. There seemed to be some wrinkles in the batch testing that don't show up on individual test runs, which is a bit of a pain, to be honest. The numbers in the chart below are an average of five separate runs, which I believe are more accurate than results from a consolidated batch run.
With a single, basic GbE interface in place, the results look somewhat similar to the first set of data I have from this test. No individual test gets very far past the ~ 120 MB/s theoretical barrier, but several of them are in the 70-90 MB/s range. Some of the tests have very low transfer rates, and that's due to the nature of the test. The Content Creation test for example, simulates a user creating a web page, accessing multiple sources for the content. The Directory Copy tests use several hundred directories and several thousand files to test a typical backup and restore scenario. That's one of the most real-world types of test, and it's useful for all of us to have a standard set of test data to use, because my directory of 1,000 random small files is never going to be the same as your directory of 1,000 random small files.
To summarize things, here are consolidated charts of the "Fast" NASPT tests, the "Medium-Speed" tests, and finally the "Slow" ones. First, the tests with relatively fast transfer rates. The Thecus N5550 aces all three of the HD Video Playback trials, improving its position as the speed of the playback increases. With 4x Video, the N5550 hits a high of 121.1 MB/s, which is close to the theoretical limit for a single GbE connection. At 1x playback, the QNAP TS-879U-RP squeezes out a lead of 3 MB/s, but the Thecus prevails convincingly at 2x and 4x. These units were all tested with a normal, GbE network connection, in order to eliminate network connectivity as a variable. Running the TS-879U-RP with one or more 10GbE interfaces would turn these tables upside down. Of course, that option is only available if you throw another couple of thousands of dollars towards the solution, so we'll continue to compare apples to apples here. The NETGEAR ReadyNAS NV+ v2 hangs on in third place, not too far back, which is good performance from that low cost platform.
The Medium-Speed tests are a bit of a mixed bag in the continuing rivalry between the TS-879U-RP and the Thecus N5550. The Thecus only pulls 66.4 MB/s on HD Playback & Record, well below the 87.6 MB/s of the QNAP. Things even out on the Office Productivity Suite test, and the N5550 comes in about 7% behind on the File Copy From NAS test. The NETGEAR ReadyNAS NV+ v2 hangs back a bit in third place, but stays within shouting distance on all three tests.
The "Slow" tests generally are slow because the file transfers are done with data sets that contain a bunch of small files of irregular size. In addition, the Directory Copy tests are accessing the file system index much more heavily than in the other tests. This adds a unique component that could be critically important for some users. The Directory Copy To NAS and Directory Copy From NAS results show a massive flip-flop on performance between the two top contenders here. The excellent Write performance provided by the TS-879U-RP system architecture gives a 74% advantage to the larger, 8-bay device when copying a large number of directories to the NAS. When copying those same directories out of the NAS, the Thecus N5550 beats the QNAP by 53%. I can't explain how or why there is such a reversal of fortune in the Directory Copy results, but this is a good demonstration of why it pays to look closely at your potential use cases when shopping for any H/W or S/W solution. The Photo Album test is a bunch of small files again, of varying sizes, arranged in a complex directory structure. This is a very common type of dataset, and these results show the N5550 providing excellent performance with this kind of data.
This was my third set of official tests with the Intel NASPT benchmarking tool, and I'm learning more about the meaning of the individual results every time. The DIR Copy results are a good example, where there was wide variation between platforms once pressure was put on the file system indexes. Most of the tests give predictable and meaningful results that represent real-world scenarios, so I'm continuing to use this benchmark, even if two or three of the test scenarios are not as useful.
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