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NAS Reviews

Disk Station
At a glance
ProductSynology Disk Station (DS2411+)   [Website]
Summary12-bay, expandable, high-performance BYOD SATA NAS with LAMP webserver and many media services based on Intel Atom D525 processor.
Pros• Expandable to 24 drives via Infiniband-connected external cabinet
Cons• Mucho expensive
• RAID 10 write performance hit
• No eSATA or USB 3.0 ports for attached backup

Typical Price: $99999  Buy From Amazon

{mospagebreak toctitle=Overview, Inside, Features}

Overview

The DS2411+ is a twelve bay dual-core Atom (D525) for buyers looking for a high-capacity NAS, but looking to save some money by sacrificing some performance. It sits at the top of Synology's Small/Medium Business line, just as its beefier (and much more expensive) sibling, the DS3611xs, occupies the top slot in the company's small "Large Scale" Business family.

Aside from the capacious twelve bays that hold 2.5" or 3.5" SATA drives, the 2411+ can be expanded with twelve more drives via the DX1211. This box is connected via an Infiniband cable and can also used with the DS3611xs.

The DS2411+ is a fairly imposing box, standing about 10.5" high, just shy of a foot wide and a bit more than a foot deep. And fully loaded with all twelve drives as my review sample was, this sucker is pretty heavy, too!

The annotated front and review views in Figure 1 show a few noteworthy things. First, you'll note the lack of LCD status panel. This isn't essential, but is usually found in NASes of this class and price range. Instead of per-drive locks, the single lock (3) secures all drives, just like on a desk or filing cabinet.

Synology DS2411+ Front and Rear Panels

Figure 1: Synology DS2411+ Front and Rear Panels

There are no USB ports on the front panel; all four USB 2.0 ports are on the rear. It would have been nice for Synology to include USB 3.0 or eSATA ports to provide faster transfers for attached backup, but no dice. You do get a 15 pin video connector for direct console support and there is also a 9 pin serial COM port. Note that both are marked "manufacturing use only" above, but don't let that stop you.

Inside

I didn't disassemble the unit for my usual set of pictures. This is because I found a very nice set of internal pictures and parts description in Steven Walton's review over on TechSpot. So, I borrowed (with permission) the board shot in Figure 2.

Synology DS2411+ DiskStation board

Figure 2: Synology DS2411+ DiskStation board (courtesy of TechSpot)

I have summarized the key components in Table 1. Steven's article has more commentary if you need it.

CPU Intel Atom D525 @ 1.8 GHz
Ethernet Intel WG82574L (x2)
RAM 1 GB DDR2-800 SoDIMM
Flash 128 MB DOM
Southbridge Intel 82801IR (ICH9R)
SATA

Marvell 88SX7042 (x4)

Table 1: DS2411+ key components

I'll just note that, contrary to Steven's description, there is not a door in the outside cover to access the expansion SoDIMM RAM slot. But once you remove the main cover, you can get to the slot by a cutout in the internal chassis sheet metal.

Power consumption measured 132 W with the twelve WD RE4 2 TB 7200 RPM (WD2003FYYS) drives that Synology installed spun up and 45 W when the programmable drive spindown kicked in. Note that when drives started to spin up after a short power-on delay, my power meter momentarily peaked at over 300 W.

The DS2411+ is relatively quiet considering the number of drives it has. I've had four-drive rackmount NASes in for testing that were so screamingly loud that they had to be banished to a back room! In contrast, the 2411+' form-factor has enough space for two 120mm (4.7") case fans and the drives are spaced with almost 1/4" above and below each one. So the fans don't have to work too hard to pull enough air through to keep the drives cool and can be run at low speed. The fans didn't even have to ramp up to keep things cool during testing.

Still, this isn't something you'll be wanting to keep in a bedroom or even media room, since twelve drives spinning at 7200 RPM plus head noise would definitely be noticed.

Features

The 2411+ supports all the features in Synology's DiskStation Manager (DSM) 3.2 OS. A few tweaks have been added since I reviewed DSM 3.0, such as the Package Center that makes it easier to find and load optional features. Synology added the option to back up to Amazon S3 a few releases ago and now fully supports Mac OS Lion for file access and Time Machine backup storage.

Other 3.2 features include:
- the option to function as part of an existing LDAP environment or to create a new one
- syslog server
- remote folder service
- ISO mounts
- remote management from iOS and Android devices
- Google Cloud Print support
- backup versioning

For more details on 3.2's features, check out the live demo or hit its page.


Performance

I tested the DS2411+ with DSM 3.2-1922 using our NAS test process. As is our practice with NASes that have more than four drives, we used only four drives to construct our volumes, to keep comparisons even.

The Benchmark summary in Figure 3 shows RAID 0, 5 and 10 results, along with iSCSI write /read and attached and networked (rsync) backup.

Synology DS2411+ benchmark summary

Figure 3: Synology DS2411+ DiskStation benchmark summary

Windows File Copy write and read results came in right around 100 MB/s for RAID 0 and 5. But RAID 10 writes dropped off significantly to 77 MB/s but stayed up at 101 MB/s for read.

Intel NASPT File Copy results followed a similar pattern for writes, starting at 122 MB/s for write and dropping to 119 MB/s for RAID 5 and 100 MB/s for RAID 10. Reads were consistenly lower for all three modes at around 84 MB/s.

iSCSI performance of 89 MB/s for writes and 78 MB/s for read were lower than we've seen for other lot-o-drive products like the QNAP TS-809 Pro, Thecus N7700PRO and even Synology's own D410 Atom-powered DS710+.

Since only USB 2.0 ports are available for attached backup, backups to our RAID 0, FAT32, EXT3 and NTFS formatted Iomega UltraMax Pro drive maxed out the connection at 25 - 26 MB/s.

To see how the DS2411+ fared against other RAID 5 capable NASes, I ran Windows RAID 5 Write and Read File Copy charts (Figure 4 and 5).

Synology DS2411+ DiskStation RAID 5 File Copy Write comparison

Figure 4: Synology DS2411+ DiskStation RAID 5 File Copy Write comparison

Synology's NAS landed in the #2 slot behind the Thecus N7700PRO for write, but edged it out for read by only 2 MB/s. This is nice for bragging rights, but insignificant in real-world performance.

Synology DS2411+ DiskStation RAID 5 File Copy Read comparison

Figure 5: Synology DS2411+ DiskStation RAID 5 File Copy Read comparison

Link Aggregation Test

I was inspired by TechSpot's review to take another shot at testing using both Gigabit Ethernet ports in 802.3ad link aggregation mode. I set the two ports up in a bonded configuration using the Network controls in the Synology GUI and connected them to a NETGEAR GS108T with two ports also set to the same LAG (Link Aggregation Group). I didn't change any other LAG controls.

Since port aggregation doesn't do anything to improve performance for a single connection (read this brief presentation for a nice and clear explanation), I used two systems to run the test. One is the current NAS Testbed 3 (Intel Core i3-540 Clarkdale 3.06GHz with Win 7) and the other the previous-generation NAS Testbed 2 (Intel Core 2 Duo E7200 @ 2.53 GHz with Vista SP1).

I tried running our standard NAS test that uses both Windows File copy and select Intel NASPT tests. But the mismatch in performance between the two systems skewed the test executions over the long test cycle so much that I gave up. Instead, I dropped back to using just the Windows File copy tests, using a batch file to robocopy my standard 4 GB ripped-DVD test folder to and from the NAS three times.

I set up separate folders on the same RAID 5 volume for each system to use. Note that test starts were skewed by the 3-5 seconds it took to switch my KVM between systems.

Figure 6 shows the tabulated Excel results. The large numbers are the direct Bytes/sec output from the robocopy runs, which are averaged and converted to MB/s for the bolded results. The results from each system are added to get the total throughput from the DS2411+.

Synology DS2411+ DiskStation RAID 5 File Copy test  w/ Link Aggregation

Synology DS2411+ DiskStation RAID 5 File Copy test w/ Link Aggregation

My numbers are lower than Synology's 165 MB/sec write, 195 MB/sec read quoted on the 2411+' product page and lower than TechSpot measured. Part of this is due to the computers used and part is the files.

Synology uses a single 10 GB file transfer by two systems (Intel Core i5 750, 4 GB RAM, two WD WD3000HLFS Velociraptor drives in RAID 0). The TechSpot test linked above uses a 6 GB ISO file and two computers (Intel Core 2 Duo E7400, 4 GB RAM, two WD Black drives in RAID 0).

Still, my test does show that the DS2411+ can take advantage of its aggregated dual Gigabit Ethernet ports when used with multiple systems fast enough to keep up with their single Gigabit Ethernet connections.

Use the NAS Charts to further explore and compare the DS2411+'s performance

Closing Thoughts

Many products I've seen that handle these many drives step up from Intel Atoms and use higher-grade Intel multicore CPUs like the Core 2 Duos used in the QNAP TS-809 Pro and Thecus N7700PRO. Synology's choice of a cheaper processor doesn't seem to hurt it much for RAID 0 and 5. But RAID 10 write performance definitely does fall off.

I do wonder how much more than $1699 the DS2411+ would have cost if it used the beefier dual-core CPU. Oh wait, that would be the ~$3400 DS3611xs that runs on a dual-core Intel 3.1 GHz CPU with 2 GB of DDR3 ECC RAM.

I guess when you look at it that way, the DS2411+ looks pretty good if you need a lot of storage that can be delivered at about as fast as your Gigabit connection can go.

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