N16000 or Top Model by Thecus
Our testing laboratory has already had a few rack-mounted NAS produced by Thecus; however, all of them had not more than eight discs and could not be called leading devices. We have regarded N16000 with curiosity and have been wondering about when it would get to our testing lab. And here we are, the day is today since we have already received the most solid and efficient model by Thecus for testing, N16000 with 16 disc slots.
Rack-mounting is believed to be the most conventional way of producing industrial equipment, and Thecus N16000 is not an exception since the size of the case it's made in is 651 x 440 x 132 mm not considering the lugs, and it occupies three units in the rack.
The front panel is hidden beyond the perforated door with an LCD display and four control buttons on it. In spite of the door size, one can open it even if the rack is fully loaded since the railings let the NAS slide out easily.
Behind the door there are 16 disc mounting bays, LEDs indicating the device status, two USB ports, ON/OFF and user setting reset buttons, as well as Locator button which is used in order to locate a device.
The side panel is not too remarkable for anything and on it there is only located a part of the mount railing.
The rear panel of the device has two power units, four USB2.0 ports, two USB 3.0 ports, two SATA slots, three Gigabit Ethernet network interfaces, DB-9 port for connection to a UPS and four expansion card slots. One of the slots on the photo below is fitted with an additional 10GE network card.
Now let's have a look at the insides of the case.
Insides of the Thecus N16000 NAS are several green textolite cards, one of which is a motherboard, whilst the rest are secondary cards that act as adapters or interface converters without performing any essential functions.
Intel Xeon X3480, with the operational frequency of 3.06 GHz (maximum frequency is 3.71 GHz) and Intel 3450 chipset, has been chosen as the device's CPU. Temperature monitoring of system elements and fan speed is made by Winbond W83795G chip. I/O functions are carried out by F71889ED Fintek controller, that we have already seen with N8900 NAS. Network functions are carried out by three Intel WG82574L Gigabit Ethernet controllers.
Thecus N16000 is fitted with USB 3.0 bus controller powered by NEC D720200AF1 chip.
RAID-controller for SATA and SAS discs is powered by LSI LSISAS2008 chip with eight SAS/SATA ports. Since N16000 allows connection of up to 16 discs, Thecus has decided to use a special extender premounted in the card where an administrator plugs in discs, LSISAS2x28 which has 28 SAS/SATA 6 Gbps ports (it's not on the photo).
The files of the current firmware are stored in one of modules produced by Afaya company. The module has JMicron JM20300 and Silicon Motion SM2231T controllers, as well as a 2 Gbyte Samsung flash memory chip K9K8G08U0B.
Now let's skip on to the software of the device.
The firmware upgrade is performed in a conventional way, either manually or partly manually. In order to use the latter, one must register the NAS using the corresponding option of the web-interface (System Info - Registration).
Manual firmware upgrade is not much of a difficulty either. One just needs to download a file with new firmware image from the vendor's web-server and use Firmware Upgrade option in Administration group. According to the file name, N8900, N12000 and N16000 models use the same firmware.
The whole firmware upgrade procedure takes about four minutes.
Apart from those functions provided by the firmware itself, users of Thecus N16000 have a possibility to use functions realized by add-ons; they can be downloaded and installed free of charge. The same as in case with the firmware upgrade, installation of add-ons can be carried out manually or partly manually. We have already reviewed that process quite in detail in the review dedicated to N8900.
The support of anti-virus module that allows scanning the content of N16000 for viruses started being available since the release of 2.02.02 firmware version.
Now it's time to turn to the review of the device web-interface capabilities.
Since the firmware used with N8900, N12000 and N16000 models is the same, we won't review the device web-interface functions, but advise our readers to look at the review dedicated to N8900.
Thus we would only like to point out that in the very first place N16000 NAS had hot backup function of the whole device which lead to the inability of LAN3 network interface for direct configuration. Fortunately, all latest firmware versions for that model allow overriding the interface used by high availability functions (Storage - High-Availability). We believe that this function is highly useful since N16000 supports functioning mode alongside with additional 10GE network adapters.
Also we would like to say a few words about UI Login Functions item located in System Management group. Using this item an administrator can place shortcuts for a variety of user functions on the first page of the device web-interface (which goes before the login and password page).
When the review has been already written, we have discovered a new firmware version at the vendor's web-site. Naturally, we installed the newest version (2.02.02) and now we would like to get our reader known with several new functions of the device web-interface.
In System Monitor item located in System Information group, an administrator can browse through the usage diagrams of varied system resource.
Some things in Networking item have also changed, and now the device supports IPv6 protocol.
A new item LDAP Support in User and Group Authentication group allows users to manage settings of LDAP connections.
The new firmware version gives users SSH access support without installation of any third-party modules. The corresponding configurations can be made in SSH item, Network Service group.
Apart from a new SSH item, two new items were added to Network Service group, and they are DDNS and UPnP Port Management which allow users to manage the same-named services.
Thecus N16000 NAS allows plugging in of external CD/DVD/BD drives and use them in order to burn the stored data on optical carriers. The above-noted procedure is carried out using DataBurn item, Backup group.
Now we would like to review certain capabilities of the device command line interface.
In order to access the command line, an HiSSH expansion module must be installed using Module Installation item in Application Server group in the web-interface. Any SSH client may be used in order to access the NAS and therefore we have decided to use PUTTY v.0.60.
In order to gain access to the NAS, an administrator must type in login root and the same password which has been used for admin in the web-interface. BusyBox, v.1.16.1, released in March of 2010, is used in the system. The version of the OS can be learnt by entering uname –a command or by accessing the /proc/version file.
login as: root
BusyBox v1.16.1 (2011-12-13 18:12:23 CST) multi-call binary.
Copyright (C) 1998-2009 Erik Andersen, Rob Landley, Denys Vlasenko
and others. Licensed under GPLv2.
See source distribution for full notice.
Usage: busybox [function] [arguments]...
or: function [arguments]...
BusyBox is a multi-call binary that combines many common Unix
utilities into a single executable. Most people will create a
link to busybox for each function they wish to use and BusyBox
will act like whatever it was invoked as.
Currently defined functions:
[, [[, addgroup, adduser, arp, arping, awk, basename, cat, chmod,
chown, chpasswd, chroot, chvt, clear, cp, crond, crontab, cryptpw, cut,
date, dc, dd, deallocvt, delgroup, deluser, df, diff, dirname, dmesg,
dnsdomainname, du, dumpleases, echo, egrep, eject, env, ether-wake,
expr, false, fgrep, free, freeramdisk, fsck, fuser, getty, grep,
gunzip, gzip, halt, head, hexdump, hostname, hwclock, id, ifconfig,
init, insmod, ip, kill, killall, killall5, length, ln, logger, login,
ls, lsmod, md5sum, mdev, mkdir, mkfifo, mknod, mkpasswd, mktemp,
modprobe, more, mv, netstat, nslookup, openvt, passwd, pidof,
pipe_progress, poweroff, printenv, printf, ps, pwd, raidautorun,
readahead, readlink, realpath, reboot, renice, reset, rm, rmdir, rmmod,
route, sed, seq, sleep, sort, split, stat, strings, stty, sync, tail,
tee, test, time, top, touch, tr, traceroute, true, tty, udhcpc, udhcpd,
uname, uniq, unzip, uptime, usleep, uuencode, vi, watch, wc, wget,
whoami, xargs, yes, zcat
N16000:~# uname -a
Linux N16000 2.6.36 #1 SMP Tue Dec 13 18:11:11 CST 2011 x86_64 GNU/Linux
N16000:~# cat /proc/version
Linux version 2.6.36 (root@FC12-27) (gcc version 4.4.3 20100127 (Red Hat 4.4.3-4) (GCC) ) #1 SMP Tue Dec 13 18:11:11 CST 2011
Since the firmware type used with N16000 and N8900 is the same, we will not feature either the contents of system catalogues or the list of processes in progress. Instead of that, we will enter /proc catalogue to find out which files are stored there, as well as to learn the OS uptime and its average workload, and receive information on the CPU and the RAM. System workload data can be also received by using /usr/bin/uptime utility.
N16000:/# cd /proc
1/ 14/ 22/ 3208/ 4918/ 5443/ execdomains pagetypeinfo
10/ 143/ 23/ 3236/ 4921/ 5666/ f71889ed_gpio partitions
1037/ 14315/ 24/ 3257/ 4924/ 5668/ fb pca9532
1040/ 145/ 25/ 3258/ 4925/ 5669/ filesystems pca9532_id
10404/ 146/ 2570/ 3396/ 4926/ 5713/ fs/ scsi/
1043/ 148/ 26/ 3450/ 4928/ 5747/ hwm self@
1046/ 15/ 27/ 4/ 4942/ 5809/ ide/ softirqs
1049/ 150/ 277/ 455/ 4965/ 5922/ interrupts stat
1052/ 15004/ 28/ 456/ 4971/ 6/ iomem swaps
11/ 15090/ 282/ 457/ 4974/ 6036/ ioports sys/
1128/ 151/ 2845/ 4581/ 5138/ 6048/ irq/ sysvipc/
1130/ 152/ 28868/ 4599/ 5150/ 6691/ iscsi_target/ thecus_event
1131/ 15232/ 29/ 460/ 5151/ 7/ kallsyms thecus_eventc
1132/ 1566/ 291/ 4600/ 5152/ 8/ kcore thecus_io
1133/ 16/ 292/ 4601/ 5153/ 9/ kmsg timer_list
1185/ 17/ 293/ 4602/ 5154/ acpi/ kpagecount tty/
12/ 18/ 294/ 4603/ 5155/ buddyinfo kpageflags uptime
1246/ 18818/ 295/ 461/ 5156/ bus/ loadavg version
1248/ 19/ 296/ 462/ 5157/ cgroups locks vmallocinfo
1250/ 1992/ 297/ 463/ 5224/ cmdline mdstat vmstat
1260/ 2/ 3/ 464/ 5231/ cpuinfo meminfo zoneinfo
1267/ 20/ 30/ 4739/ 5237/ crypto misc
12895/ 2031/ 3091/ 4818/ 5243/ devices modules
12897/ 21/ 3187/ 4850/ 5263/ diskstats mounts@
13/ 2100/ 3206/ 4906/ 5346/ dma mtrr
13113/ 2198/ 3207/ 4917/ 5442/ driver/ net@
N16000:/proc# cat uptime
N16000:/proc# cat loadavg
0.10 0.11 0.13 1/147 15255
22:09:41 up 5 days, 22:51, load average: 0.08, 0.11, 0.13
N16000:/proc# cat meminfo
MemTotal: 4054480 kB
MemFree: 3771640 kB
Buffers: 4196 kB
Cached: 81776 kB
SwapCached: 0 kB
Active: 76940 kB
Inactive: 64072 kB
Active(anon): 69000 kB
Inactive(anon): 48108 kB
Active(file): 7940 kB
Inactive(file): 15964 kB
Unevictable: 3184 kB
Mlocked: 3184 kB
SwapTotal: 2096112 kB
SwapFree: 2096112 kB
Dirty: 0 kB
Writeback: 0 kB
AnonPages: 58268 kB
Mapped: 13140 kB
Shmem: 60080 kB
Slab: 22392 kB
SReclaimable: 4424 kB
SUnreclaim: 17968 kB
KernelStack: 1216 kB
PageTables: 4972 kB
NFS_Unstable: 0 kB
Bounce: 0 kB
WritebackTmp: 0 kB
CommitLimit: 4123352 kB
Committed_AS: 172900 kB
VmallocTotal: 34359738367 kB
VmallocUsed: 37820 kB
VmallocChunk: 34359697408 kB
DirectMap4k: 3840 kB
DirectMap2M: 4182016 kB
N16000:/proc# cat cpuinfo
processor : 0
vendor_id : GenuineIntel
cpu family : 6
model : 30
model name : Intel(R) Xeon(R) CPU X3480 @ 3.07GHz
stepping : 5
cpu MHz : 3066.937
cache size : 8192 KB
physical id : 0
siblings : 8
core id : 0
cpu cores : 4
apicid : 0
initial apicid : 0
fpu : yes
fpu_exception : yes
cpuid level : 11
wp : yes
flags : fpu vme de pse tsc msr pae mce cx8 apic sep mtrr pge mca cmov
pat pse36 clflush dts acpi mmx fxsr sse sse2 ss ht tm pbe syscall nx rdtscp lm
constant_tsc arch_perfmon pebs bts rep_good xtopology nonstop_tsc aperfmperf
pni dtes64 monitor ds_cpl vmx smx est tm2 ssse3 cx16 xtpr pdcm sse4_1 sse4_2
popcnt lahf_lm dts tpr_shadow vnmi flexpriority ept vpid
bogomips : 6136.45
clflush size : 64
cache_alignment : 64
address sizes : 36 bits physical, 48 bits virtual
Information on CPU units from first to seventh has been deleted since it provides the same data as of CPU 0 provided above.
The current firmware version can be learnt in /app/version file.
N16000:/# cat /app/version
That's where the brief review on the capabilities of the web-interface command line draws to a close and we pass straight on to the testing procedure.
As always, we begin our testing section with estimating the booting time of the device, which is a time interval starting with the moment when the power is on until the first echo reply is received through ICMP protocol. Thecus N16000 loads in 95 seconds, which as we consider, is a decent result for this type of devices.
The second test was a security scanning procedure which has been carried out using Positive Technologies XSpider 7.7 (Demo build 3100) utility before installing any add-ons or initializing any additional network services. On the whole, there were nine open ports discovered, and they are TCP-80 (HTTP), TCP-111 (RPC Unix), UDP-111 (RPC Unix PortMapper), UDP-137 (NetBIOS Name), TCP-139 (NetBIOS samba), TCP-443 (HTTP SSL), TCP-445 (Microsoft DS), TCP-631 (HTTP) and TCP-3260 (iscsi-target). The most interesting data are presented below.
So, we are ready to commence with the most interesting part of the chapter, and it is testing the performance of Thecus N16000 NAS using Intel NASPT 1.7.1 utility. Seagate ST2000DM001 hard discs were used during the above-noted tests. The primary specifications of the test stand we used are presented below. We have used an additional 10GE network adapter (Thecus C10GT with Gigalink GL-P03MM SFP+ module) so that the network infrastructure is not a weak spot of our testing procedure anymore.
|Motherboard||ASUS Maximus IV Extreme-Z|
|CPU||Intel Core i7 2600K 3.4 GHz|
|RAM||DDR3 PC3-10700 Corsair 16 Gbytes|
Thecus C10GT (Gigalink GL-P03MM)
|Operating system||Windows 7 x64 SP1 Rus|
We would also like to state that according to Intel's suggestions we have intentionally decreased the available RAM size using msconfig utility. The reason we did this was in order to reduce the effect of local caching that may affect the measurements. Unfortunately, the overwhelming majority of testing laboratories both in Russia and overseas neglect following these suggestions.
Thecus N16000 allows using one of the three file systems, EXT4, EXT3 or XFS, although the minimum available disc space capacity cannot be changed manually as in the case with previous models, i.e. only the full disc space is available to a user. The above mentioned leads to inability to use EXT3 with wide disc space on certain RAID arrays. For instance, we have used 16 discs, 2 Tbytes each, making the total RAID0 capacity 32 Tbytes, which goes long beyond the maximum partition limit for this file system. However, with complete understanding of which system of the three would be the most preferable by the users, we have decided to compare them. In order to carry out the above mentioned test we have put together RAID0 array working on four discs, which we later on connected to using SMB. Results of the measurements are presented below.
Next we started gradually putting together all available arrays out of 16 discs, formatting partitions using EXT4 and measuring the data access speed using SMB. Results of the measurements are presented on the diagram below.
Also, the same operation has been done with connections using iSCSI. We should note that the speed measurements we received during the DirectoryCopyToNAS Throughput are not actually to be considered as adequate ones (we believe that the local caching played its role) and that's the reason why we did not include them on the diagram, in order not to confuse our readers.
Since the iSCSI protocol supports workload balancing between several network interfaces (iSCSI MultiPath), we have decided to compare the data access speed received through one 10GE interface or two GE interfaces integrated using iSCSI MultiPath and Round Robin balancing.
The vendor provides possibility to encrypt the RAID array being created in order to secure the information if the discs are stolen. We have decided to compare the performance of N16000 with both encrypted and not encrypted arrays.
The capability of the NAS to work with hard discs plugged in using USB 3.0 interface hasn't been left behind either, and in order to do this we have used Transcend StoreJet 25M3 hard disc, 750 Gbytes. We chose two commonly used file systems for this test, FAT32 and NTFS. Results of the measurements are presented on the diagram below.
The IPv6 protocol, which is really close from taking place of the current version IP - IPv4, is supported in the new 2.02.02 version of the firmware. We connected to the NAS using IPv6 and carried out a performance testing procedure. The comparative data on the two versions of the protocol are presented on the diagram below.
Thecus has also decided to implement the support of an anti-virus module in the new 2.02.02 firmware version. In order to measure the anti-virus check speed we upgraded the module base over the Internet and uploaded three different file sets, containing varied office data, archives and videos, to the NAS. Results of the measurements are presented on the diagram below.
That's where we draw the testing chapter to a close and move on to summing it all up.
The leading NAS Thecus N16000 we have tested allows storing information on 16 hard discs in three rack units. Access to data can be gained either by using two standard Gigabit Ethernet interfaces or by installing additional network adapters for 1 and 10 GE environment. The model under discussion showcases the same level of performance as N8900 did, although a twice larger disc space furnishes the user with a possibility to store more data per one unit in communication rack.
The strength areas of the devices are presented below.
- High data access speed.
- Ability to install additional network adapters (10GE is among them).
- Support of SATA and SAS drives.
- Ability to enhance the functionality by installing various add-ons free of charge.
- Network attack resistant.
- Ability of trunking of network interfaces and grouping several NAS devices into a stack.
- A redundant power supply unit.
- Ability to backup the whole device.
- Support of IPv6.
- Ability to carry out an anti-virus check of the data stored.
Unfortunately, we cannot help to mention one drawback we have discovered.
- Some parts of the web-interface and the vendor's web-site are left untranslated.
As of when this article was being written, the average price of a Thecus N16000 in Moscow online shops was 180000 roubles.
The author and editorial team return thanks to Tayle company, an official distributor of Thecus network equipment in Russia, for kindly furnishing us with the network storage for its further testing. We also thank DNS digital store for the hard disks provided for testing.