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Internal Details

QNAP has opted to power the 509 Pro with an 1.6 GHz Intel Celeron M 420 Processor, which is seen topped with a hefty copper-cored heatsink in Figure 2 below. Intel seems to be popular among the NASes that rank high in our NAS Charts, being used in the Thecus N5200, 5200 Pro and 1U4500 rackount as well as Intel's own SS4200-E. The 509 Pro, however, is the first NAS I have tested to have 1 GB of RAM (DDR2 667). Flash is relatively plentiful too at 128 MB.

Updated 12/3/2008: It's hard to see in the photo, but there are two stacked SO-DIMM sockets.

QNAP TS-509 Pro main board
Click to enlarge image

Figure 2: QNAP TS-509 Pro main board

The two gigabit Ethernet ports are provided by two Broadcom BCM5787 NetLink Gigabit Ethernet Controllers with PCI Express. Those last two words are encouraging, since a PCI Express interface should provide more bandwidth headroom for gigabit network transfers. But I was disappointed to find that QNAP has chosen to not enable jumbo frame support in the 509 Pro!

Given all of the horsepower that QNAP has put into the product and its target market of business users, this decision doesn't make much sense to me and I told QNAP as much. But it is what it is for now and there is no indication from QNAP that this will change.

Updated 8/18/2008
QNAP responded that the Broadcom BCM5787 does not support jumbo frames. But they chose it because it had the best throughput of the chipsets they evaluated.

Note the eight SATA connectors supported by two Marvell 88SE6145 SATA controllers. There is also an ITE8712F I/O Controller, SST 49LF008A PLA and Analog Devices ADM213 RS-232 interface. Due to the heatsinks, I couldn't tell what the other two chips were.

Since QNAP was so kind as to provide shell access, I was able to find that the 509 Pro is running a version of Ubuntu, i.e.

[/] # cat /proc/version
Linux version 2.6.24 (root@NasX86-2) (gcc version 4.1.3 20070929 (prerelease) (Ubuntu 4.1.2-16ubuntu2)) #1 SMP Fri Jul 25 01:47:37 CST 2008

The drives are formatted using the EXT3 filesystem, with no tweaks that could prevent drives from being removed and read by another EXT3-capable system.

Check out the slideshow See the slideshow for more internal details

Given the processor and five drives, I knew that the 509 Pro wouldn't be exactly a low-power NAS. But I was surprised to find that it drew around 95W with all five drives spun up and 52W with them spun down. Compare this to the Synology DS508 whose equivalent power consumption measured 51 W / 27 W with five drives.

Features

You can think of the 509 Pro as being a five drive, faster version of the 409 Pro, with a few differences in features. The things that the 409 Pro has that the 509 Pro doesn't are gigabit jumbo frame support and the Surveillance Station feature that allows recording directly from select network cameras.

Features unique to the 509 Pro include the dual LAN ports, Wake on LAN and schedulable power off and on (both have idle drive spin-down). Of course the 509 Pro has one more drive and therefore the ability to go to 5 TB vs. the 409 Pro's 4. Check QNAP's model comparison table if there is a specific feature that you need to confirm.

Drive Fail Test

Craig did a great job of seeing how robust the TS-409's RAID recovery was. So I just did a quick test with the NAS set up with three drives in RAID 5 and a fourth configured as a hot spare. I first enabled and tested email alerts, then started a drag-and-drop copy of an almost 2 GB folder. I let the copy start, then pulled the # 1 drive.

The drive light winked out immediately, but it was about 30 seconds before the system's buzzer sounded for a few seconds. But the LCD panel did not automatically come on and my button press accidentally killed the message that was put up there. (Note that there are no controls to disable the display auto shut-off.)

I logged into the admin interface and saw no indication of the failed drive. The only indication on the Systems Logs > System Information page was a missing temperature for HDD 1. I had to navigate to the Device Configuration > SATA Disk page to see that the Drive 4 hot spare had been swapped into the RAID 5 array and a rebuild automatically started. Note that the only indication of the rebuild available on the LCD status display was a "(B)" next to the RAID5 volume. % of rebuild was not there.

I did receive the alert email below, within 30 seconds of the drive failure. Note that the system was able to distinguish between a drive failure and a pulled drive.

 Server Name: NASB92833
 IP Address: 
 Date/Time: 08/15/2008 13:06:12
 Level:  Error
 Drive 1 plugged out.

After about 10 minutes of rebuilding, I decided to see what happened when I reinserted Drive 1. I checked the SATA Disk page and it at first showed that Drive 1 had been reinstalled. After a minute or so the RAID 5 Volume field on the SATA Disk page changed from Drive 2 3 4 back to Drive 1 2 3 Hot Spare Disk 4, which it was before I pulled the drive. Rebuilding was still running.

I had stopped the filecopy shortly after the rebuild had begun because I knew that continuing to copy would lengthen the time for the rebuild to finish. But when I tried to restart the copy after reinserting Drive 1, I found that access was denied for write. I could open the share to browse files and even copy a file from the NAS to my computer desktop. But the system was evidently protecting itself from further changes until it could complete the rebuild—which would take close to 3 hours (3 TB array).

The process was robust enough, but QNAP could do better in terms of notifications and log entries. The only email I received was the "drive plugged out" notice. I received no notice of rebuild start or finish. I also found the log entries hard to read (Figure 3) due to truncation, although mousing over entries brought up a tooltip that showed the entire line.

Truncated log entries

Figure 3: Truncated log entries

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