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Media Serving

I also gave the M3800 a going-over as a media server. If you're an iTunes user, the M3800 can use the daap protocol to feed music to iTunes on your computer. I transferred some files to the Music directory on the M3800 and they transparently showed up under a M3800 server shown in iTunes. Note that this will also work for iTunes DRM-restricted files because iTunes does the final decryption; the server is not involved.

The M3800 also runs a UPnP AV server that will send music, video and pictures to networked media players. I tried this out with a new UPnP player that I installed on my iPod and it worked fine. Once again, the user interface (Figure 10) was nothing to brag about, but that's mostly a function of the player rather than the server.

UPnP Player

Figure 10: UPnP Player on the iPod Touch

It was fun, though, to utilize the M3800 UPnP server to wirelessly stream full-length, high-quality MPEG4 movies to my iPod.


We put the M3800 through our test process, configured with three Thecus-provided Seagate ST380815AS Barracuda 7200RPM 80 GB drives and running firmware version 1.00.02. Tests were run with 100 Mbps, 1000 Mbps and 1000 Mbps with 4k jumbo LAN connections and with the three drives configured in RAID 0 and 5.

There are a ton of different tests you can run by using our interactive charts. But I picked out a few to get you started. Figure 11 shows RAID 0 and 5 read performance with gigabit and gigabit + 4k jumbo LAN connections.

Performance starts dropping off after the 64 MB file size, then levels off from 256 MB file sizes on up. Enabling 4k jumbo frames actually seems to reduce performance, for the most part. Performance averaged over the 32 MB to 4 GB file sizes comes in at 61.5, 59.6, 56.9 and 56.0 MB/s for RAID 0 read, 4k jumbo read, RAID 5 read and 4k jumbo RAID 5 read respectively.

MM3800 Read benchmarks

Figure 11: M3800 Read benchmarks

Write results for the same tests show a similar performance profile, with performance leveling off from 256 MB file sizes and larger. Performance averaged over the 32 MB to 4 GB file sizes comes in at 43.8, 58.9, 38.0 and 45.5 MB/s for RAID 0 write, 4k jumbo write, RAID 5 write and 4k jumbo RAID 5 write respectively. This time, enabling jumbo frames does seem to help performance, particularly at the smaller file sizes.

M3800 Write benchmarks

Figure 12: M3800 Write benchmarks

The list of NASes tested with our new test procedure is slowly growing. So I was able to find only a few RAID5-capable products to compare against, namely the Netgear ReadyNAS Pro and Synology DS508. I also threw in the Thecus N3200 for comparison, although it was tested on the old test bed and is now discontinued. Figure 13 shows a RAID 0 write comparison with a Gigabit LAN connection.

The results aren't that surprising, given that the DS508 is more than twice as expensive and the ReadyNAS Pro is more than 3X (although it comes with 1.5 TB of drives). But you can also see that the M3800 has a significant performance advantage over the N3200.

Comparative RAID 0 Write Performance - 1000 Mbps LAN

Figure 13: Comparative RAID 0 Write Performance - 1000 Mbps LAN

Figure 14 shows the read comparison, minus the table of values since the scale isn't so compressed. Note that the M3800 actually performs better than the Synology DS508!

Comparative RAID 0 Read Performance - 1000 Mbps LAN

Figure 14: Comparative RAID 0 Read Performance - 1000 Mbps LAN

Figure 15 compares RAID 5 write performance. It again outperforms the DS508 via some cache boost at file sizes below 256 MB.

Comparative RAID 5 Write Performance - 1000 Mbps LAN

Figure 15: Comparative RAID 5 Write Performance - 1000 Mbps LAN

Figure 16 compares RAID 5 read performance, where the M3800 actually out-performs both the much more expensive ReadyNAS Pro and DS508 at many file sizes. This just shows how important cached behavior is in NAS performance.

Comparative RAID 5 Read Performance - 1000 Mbps LAN

Figure 16: Comparative RAID 5 Read Performance - 1000 Mbps LAN

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