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As I do with other "cloud" type NASes, I just ran the Vista SP1 filecopy tests from our normal NAS test suite. This test copies a directory containing slightly more than 4 GB of files of various sizes.  Read and write tests were performed both with the 500 GB FreeAgent Go mounted in the GoFlex Net as well as with the drive directly attached to a computer with the USB 3.0 adapter cable.

A WD MyBook 3.0 USB 3.0 PCI Express Interface Card (Figure 13) was used to add a USB 3.0 port to the NAS testbed. This card uses an NEC D720200F1 USB 2 / 3 Host controller.

WD MyBook 3.0 USB 3.0 PCI Express Interface Card

Figure 13: WD MyBook 3.0 USB 3.0 PCI Express Interface Card

Since I previously tested a FreeAgent Go drive with a USB 2.0 direct connection and via the Dockstar dock, I included those test results in the summary for comparison.

The GoFlex Net firmware version was 2.1.4 and the Pogoplug version was 2.2.0 for the UI and Services. A Gigabit connection was used for the GoFlex Net and Dockstar tests.

Here are the results:

Test GoFlex
USB 3.0
USB 2.0
FAT Write 64.8 11.0    
FAT Read 65.5 34.1    
NTFS Write 71.7 19.6 24.5 22.9
NTFS Read 75.8 34.1 32.4 22.5
Table 1: Performance Test summary

There are only NTFS numbers for the Go and Dockstar because I did not reformat the drive from its factory formatting.

The USB 3.0 numbers are no surprise and are about 3x higher than the 20 MB/s throughput limit of USB 2.0. But I am surprised by the GoFlex net's low write performance. Since the Marvell SoC has an onboard SATA interface, there shouldn't be any internal bus limitations. So there must be some internal code overhead that Cloud Engines needs to work on.

Closing Thoughts

I think the GoFlex system is a simple idea that Seagate has executed well. People are getting more accustomed to dealing with drive SATA connectors when plugging drives into BYOD NASes. So why not make the drive SATA connector work for an external drive connection?

I'd expect to see the GoFlex system replace the original Go family at some point, especially as USB 3.0 becomes the preferred way to connect to external drives. Copycats may appear too, unless Seagate was able to patent the GoFlex system.

In any event, I like the GoFlex system and hope that Cloud Engines / Seagate can get the GoFlex Net's performance up closer to the 32 MB/s write and 50 MB/s read that I usually see from Marvell Kirkwood powered NASes.

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