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In my last post, I outlined a toolkit of programs to help test, configure and verify your 10GbE LAN's performance. In this installment, I'm going to show how I put some of them to work, testing out QNAP's TS-470 Pro NAS.

Over the last five years or so, Cinevate has relied on NASes to archive virtually all of our design files, video, photo, and workstation backups.  With three QNAP NASes, each running 24/7 for over 5 years, it is impressive that there have been zero failures.  I also appreciate that even though the TS-509 Pro and TS-639 we use are no longer sold, QNAP continues to release firmware updates incorporating many of the latest features found in their new products.

QNAP TS-470 Pro

If you are looking for fully-supported shared storage, there really is nothing more cost effective than a NAS.  Given previous experience owning a computer business, followed by eight years as a system analyst with the Canadian government, good hardware and design is something I really appreciate.

QNAP’s build quality and attention to detail (like adding a small thermostatically controlled fan to their 10GbE card) is evident throughout their product line.  These NASes are small, power efficient and surprisingly compact, particularly compared to the typical tower case pictured here.

NAS and Computer Tower

NAS and Computer Tower

In terms of just how compact a unit like this would be on a photo or video shoot, (used for digital media management), check this sneak peak below of our All-Terrain Duzi slider vs the QNAP TS-470 Pro.  Remember that simply plugging the TS-470 back in at your “home” network would give all 10GbE connected clients instant access to your media at speeds upwards of 700 MB/s.  For portable media backup/management where high volumes of RAW data were expected, the TS-470 would be perfect.

QNAP TS-470 Pro and Cinevate All-Terrain Duzi slider

QNAP TS-470 Pro and Cinevate All-Terrain Duzi slider

QNAP was kind enough to send Cinevate a TS-470 Pro with a dual-port 10GbE card installed so I could put it through its paces in our environment.  The TS-470 Pro can accept a total of four hard drives.  However, given the potential performance of the optional 10GbE card (about $600), I would suggest considering QNAP's TS-8xx Pro series, as they can accommodate eight hard drives.

Eight hard drives allows for RAID performance that can actually “fill” a 10GbE pipe.  Eight 4 TB drives in RAID 5 (one drive can fail without data loss) will provide up to 28 TB of usable storage.  More importantly, eight drive bays allows creating a volume with, say, 5 x 4 TB drives, and another volume with 3 x 1 TB SSD drives for business data.

With consumer SSD drives exceeding 1TB capacity, it is not inconceivable for some companies to populate a 4 bay NAS like the TS-470 Pro with SSD drives for the ultimate in high speed, power efficient shared storage.  As I happened to be in the middle of SSD drive updates for workstations, I had four Intel 530 series SSDs to test the NAS with.

10GbE Performance

A quick RAID 0 test with the four SSDs shows that the TS-470 Pro is capable of faster speeds than advertised by QNAP!  I observed a peak of 777 MB/s using the NAS resource monitor during this large file copy from the TS-470 to a local RAM drive.

10GbE File Copy to RAM disk in progress

10GbE File Copy to RAM disk in progress

Swapping the four SSD drives out for four 4 TB Hitachi Deskstar 7200 RPM drives, the results reflect performance over 10GbE nearly identical to what you might expect from these drives run locally from a RAID card.

ATTO Disk Benchmark over 10GbE connection

ATTO Disk Benchmark over 10GbE connection

Using the Intel NASPT tool, some very respectable numbers were also generated.  Remember that the maximum you would measure over Gigabit Ethernet is about 120 MB/s. So to see 548 MB/s measured from four 7200 RPM drives over a 10GbE connection is excellent.

Intel NASPT benchmark over 10GbE

Intel NASPT benchmark over 10GbE - RAID 0

You would likely never configure a four drive RAID 0 array because it has no fault tolerance. The exception might be a local drive array used to stream multiple 4K RAW video streams for video editing.  RAID 10 performance (data striped across two disk mirrors) costs you half of your disk array space, but will provide better write performance than a RAID 5 array.

One of the reasons I would prefer an eight bay NAS is that RAID 5 performance would increase considerably over a four bay NAS, with only one disk lost to parity.  In other words, RAID 5 and eight disks provide a better balance of disk performance vs. redundancy.

Intel NASPT benchmark over 10GbE - RAID 10

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