Thecus N8810U-G

Introduction

External design

Hardware

Setting-up procedures

Command line

Connection to ESXi

Testing

Conclusion

Introduction

Overall, our test lab has seen more than dozens of NASes by Thecus and this let us carefully examine the capabilities they possess. Today we welcome a rack-mounted 2U Thecus N8810U-G NAS, which is meant to be used among SMBs. This model allows for connection of up to eight disks via SATA interface. The device younger brother, N8800+, was the topic of our recent reviews and now we obtained a device with a higher memory capacity, more powerful CPU, and significantly higher performance. In this review we paid most attention to testing the device since its web-interface had already been reviewed in articles about N8800 and N16000PRO. Okay, let's get started.

External design

Thecus N8810U-G front panel looks exactly like that of Thecus N8800+. The NAS comes in a metal case with the dimensions of length, width, and height of 586x428x90 mm, correspondingly, and is meant to be installed into a telco rack using the railings that are included in the box.

The front panel is closed with a perforated metal door to prevent accidentally pressing on the N8810U-G controlling elements. Behind the door there are eight bays used for mounting HDDs, LCD, power ON/OFF and reset buttons, four managing buttons used to set the NAS operation parameters, and two USB 2.0 ports. It's worth noticing that it'd be barely possible or simply impossible to open the door if a certain device with an outstanding front panel would be mounted just under the NAS.

N8810U-G rear panel has two power supply units, four USB 2.0 ports, two USB 3.0 ports, two GE and one 10GE interfaces, VGA port, and HDMI port located on it.

R8P-400 model by SURE STAR company, which specializes solely in PSU production, was used to fit the NAS with two PSU units. The PSUs are installed into a separate case to which the external power supply is connected. Each case is fitted with two 40x40x20 mm fans.

Now let's have a look at the insides of the case.

Hardware

A row made of four 80x80 mm fans separate the interior of Thecus N8810U-G NAS into two parts: the disk and the processing part. The PSUs are located in the second part of the case, whilst all logic is located on one green textolite card which has all essential elements placed on one of its sides.

Dual-core 2.9 GHz Intel G850 acts as the CPU. Intel BD82C206 chip acts as the southbridge.

Network support is carried out by two GE Intel WG82574L controllers and a 10GE Thecus C10GTR network card powered by Marvell 88x3110 and Tehuti Networks TN4010 controllers.

Fintek F71889 module, which we already saw in other Thecus NASes, N16000PRO being one of them, performs monitoring functions. Winbond W83795G carries out the system element temperature and FAN speed monitoring.

Unlike N16000PRO, USB 3.0 ports powered by Renesas D720202 micro chip are not made as a separate card but are built in the motherboard. HDMI support is maintained by Pericom PI3VDP411LS chip.

The system gets loaded from 2 GByte Micron MT29F16G08CBACAWP flash card powered by ALCOR MICRO AU6990AN controller. Thecus N8810U-G boot device is not backed up.

4 GByte ADATA AD3E1600W4G11 card powered by nine Mircon MT41K512M8RH-125 chips labeled as D9QBJ is used as the device RAM.

It'd be fair to point out that one can receive certain information about the device hardware component using its web-interface too.

That is where we bring the review of the hardware platform of Thecus N8810U-G NAS to a conclusion and pass on to examining capabilities of its software component.

Setting-up procedures

One will need to carry out all primary setting-up procedures of the device after installing the HDDs and plugging Thecus N8810U-G in. That's exactly why a disc with the installation wizard and Ethernet cable are included in the box. By default the address of Thecus N8810U-G in WAN/LAN1 interface is 192.168.1.100/24, and that's why the controlling workstation must be located in 192.168.1.0/24 network. After that the administrator will need to install Thecus Setup Wizard utility.

Thecus Setup Wizard detected Thecus N8810U-G in the local network segment straight after loading.

We are passing to the next step where we must specify the preset admin password for admin user.

Now one needs to perform setting-up of network parameters. The IP address, mask, and gateway may be both set up manually or obtained dynamically using DHCP.

During the next step one will have to change the password. However the administrator can keep using the old one, it's not recommended to do so.

From the perspective of the installation wizard the primary adjustment would be finished at this moment.

However, one will need to create a RAID before getting started to use the NAS. The further NAS management will be done using the web-interface where the administrator will need to select the disks and the RAID type in RAID Management sub-group, Storage group.

And though the firmware upgrade is not necessary to be carried out in order to prepare Thecus N8810U-G for fully-fledged operation, we strongly encourage all users to do it.

That is where we bring the review of the getting started process of the NAS to a conclusion and pass on to examining capabilities of the device command line. This time we prefer not to include the capabilities of its web-interface in the article since its functionality is the same as that of N16000PRO model apart from the menu item associated with High Availability feature.

Command line

Managing the access to the command line of the device is performed using SSH sub-group, Network Service group in the web-interface.

To access it one needs to specify the login, which is root, and the same password that was used for admin user in the web-interface. BusyBox 1.16.1 library is used in the system. The OS version can be learnt using uname –a command or in proc/version file.

login as: root

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.'s password:
Note:
Please do not delete or modify any files or folders or it may result in system operation abnormal.
N8810U:~# busybox
BusyBox v1.16.1 (2014-08-05 14:46:44 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, dirname, dmesg,
dnsdomainname, dumpleases, echo, egrep, eject, env, ether-wake, expr,
false, fgrep, free, freeramdisk, fsck, fuser, getty, grep, gunzip,
gzip, halt, head, hexdump, hostid, hostname, id, ifconfig, init,
insmod, ip, kill, killall, killall5, length, ln, logger, login, ls,
lsmod, md5sum, mdev, mkdir, mkfifo, mknod, mkpasswd, mktemp, 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, sysctl, tail, tee, test, time, touch,
tr, traceroute, true, tty, udhcpc, udhcpd, uname, uniq, uptime, usleep,
uuencode, vi, watch, wc, wget, whoami, xargs, yes, zcat
N8810U:~# uname -a
Linux N8810U 3.10.47 #1 SMP Tue Aug 5 14:41:40 CST 2014 x86_64 GNU/Linux
N8810U:~# cat /proc/version
Linux version 3.10.47 (root@FC12-27) (gcc version 4.4.3 20100127 (Red Hat 4.4.3-4) (GCC) ) #1 SMP Tue Aug 5 14:41:40 CST 2014
N8810U:~#

However, during the testing we were more interested in the version of the command-line interpreter than the version of the OS core installed in the device. We found out that bash (Bourne again shell), which turned out to have a vulnerability called Shellshock that is considered even more dangerous than Heartbleed, is used as the command-line interpreter.

N8810U:~# echo $SHELL
/bin/sh
N8810U:~# ls -l /bin | grep sh
-rwxr-xr-x 1 root root 914376 Aug 17 2011 bash*
lrwxrwxrwx 1 root root 4 Aug 5 15:15 sh -> bash*

We decided to learn about the bash version executed in the device.

N8810U:~# bash --version
GNU bash, version 4.0.38(1)-release (x86_64-unknown-linux-gnu)
Copyright (C) 2009 Free Software Foundation, Inc.
License GPLv3+: GNU GPL version 3 or later <http://gnu.org/licenses/gpl.html>
This is free software; you are free to change and redistribute it.
There is NO WARRANTY, to the extent permitted by law.

It's getting more and more interesting, isn't it? One can check the vulnerability presence in bash using a pretty simple command: bash-4.0# env X="() { :;} ; echo vulnerable version of bash" bash -c "echo Fox bash test". In case the interpreter is not vulnerable, the administrator will see a message saying Fox bash test, but if it is one will see the other message saying vulnerable version of bash.

N8810U:~# env X="() { :;} ; echo vulnerable version of bash" bash -c "echo Fox bash test"
vulnerable version of bash
Fox bash test

It'd be fair to point out that we couldn't use the command via the NAS web-interface. Obviously, there are also other vectors of the vulnerability operation apart from the attack against the device web-server. It's also possible that we simply didn't take enough effort.

By the time this review was about to be finished, we discovered a newer beta version of the firmware (2.05.06) that contains bug fixes associated with the vulnerabilities of bash command line interpreter.

N8810U:/# env X="() { :;} ; echo vulnerable version of bash" bash -c "echo Fox bash test"
Fox bash test

We have placed the contents of /proc, /bin, /sbin, and /usr/bin catalogues into a separate file. Now let's turn to /proc catalogue to view its contents and find out the system uptime, its average utilisation, information on the CPU installed, and the amount of RAM. Average system workload information can also be received using /usr/bin/uptime utility.

N8810U:~# ls /proc
1/ 1281/ 14688/ 2905/ ide/
10/ 12891/ 14689/ 3/ interrupts
1098/ 12957/ 1475/ 309/ iomem
11/ 12958/ 1491/ 3141/ ioports
1102/ 12959/ 1541/ 3146/ irq/
1103/ 12960/ 15444/ 3203/ kallsyms
1117/ 12961/ 15446/ 3224/ kcore
11318/ 1299/ 15447/ 3226/ key-users
11319/ 13/ 15475/ 3228/ kmsg
11323/ 1313/ 15491/ 323/ kpagecount
11324/ 13188/ 15542/ 3578/ kpageflags
11338/ 13260/ 15601/ 3717/ loadavg
11423/ 13494/ 1561/ 3750/ locks
11424/ 13498/ 15630/ 423/ mdstat
11425/ 13523/ 15631/ 425/ meminfo
11426/ 1355/ 15668/ 439/ misc
11496/ 13597/ 157/ 5/ modules
11504/ 13599/ 15822/ 500/ mounts@
11565/ 13602/ 15828/ 5064/ mtrr
11568/ 13604/ 15861/ 5115/ net@
11602/ 13606/ 159/ 533/ pagetypeinfo
11682/ 13609/ 15959/ 534/ partitions
11718/ 13610/ 160/ 536/ pca9532
11719/ 13618/ 1608/ 6/ pca9532_id
11720/ 13619/ 161/ 7/ sched_debug
11721/ 13625/ 16243/ 8/ scsi/
11722/ 13654/ 16244/ 9/ self@
11723/ 13862/ 16245/ acpi/ softirqs
11724/ 14/ 16246/ buddyinfo stat
11725/ 1403/ 16247/ bus/ swaps
11726/ 14165/ 16248/ cgroups sys/
11727/ 1423/ 1627/ cmdline sysrq-trigger
11728/ 14380/ 163/ consoles sysvipc/
11729/ 14393/ 19192/ cpuinfo thecus_event
11730/ 14397/ 19300/ crypto thecus_eventc
11731/ 14404/ 2/ devices thecus_io
11732/ 14405/ 2228/ diskstats timer_list
11733/ 14406/ 23200/ dma tty/
11734/ 14407/ 23446/ dri/ uptime
11735/ 14408/ 23843/ driver/ version
11736/ 14409/ 23950/ enhanceio/ vmallocinfo
12029/ 14410/ 23951/ execdomains vmstat
12071/ 14411/ 26087/ fb zoneinfo
1233/ 14485/ 2807/ filesystems
1254/ 14522/ 2809/ fs/
1266/ 14597/ 2903/ hwm
N8810U:~# cat /proc/uptime
2356.90 4622.88
N8810U:~# cat /proc/loadavg
0.06 0.04 0.05 1/168 24089
N8810U:~# /usr/bin/uptime
03:28:30 up 39 min, load average: 0.04, 0.03, 0.05
N8810U:~# cat /proc/meminfo
MemTotal: 3937588 kB
MemFree: 3136860 kB
Buffers: 113948 kB
Cached: 270444 kB
SwapCached: 0 kB
Active: 166896 kB
Inactive: 270312 kB
Active(anon): 78020 kB
Inactive(anon): 70364 kB
Active(file): 88876 kB
Inactive(file): 199948 kB
Unevictable: 3296 kB
Mlocked: 3296 kB
SwapTotal: 2096112 kB
SwapFree: 2096112 kB
Dirty: 0 kB
Writeback: 0 kB
AnonPages: 56112 kB
Mapped: 15464 kB
Shmem: 93516 kB
Slab: 59684 kB
SReclaimable: 31420 kB
SUnreclaim: 28264 kB
KernelStack: 1392 kB
PageTables: 7880 kB
NFS_Unstable: 0 kB
Bounce: 0 kB
WritebackTmp: 0 kB
CommitLimit: 4064904 kB
Committed_AS: 263012 kB
VmallocTotal: 34359738367 kB
VmallocUsed: 350480 kB
VmallocChunk: 34359377920 kB
DirectMap4k: 11200 kB
DirectMap2M: 4067328 kB
N8810U:~# cat /proc/cpuinfo
processor : 0
vendor_id : GenuineIntel
cpu family : 6
model : 42
model name : Intel(R) Pentium(R) CPU G850 @ 2.90GHz
stepping : 7
microcode : 0x1a
cpu MHz : 2900.042
cache size : 3072 KB
physical id : 0
siblings : 2
core id : 0
cpu cores : 2
apicid : 0
initial apicid : 0
fpu : yes
fpu_exception : yes
cpuid level : 13
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 nopl xtopology nonstop_tsc aperfmperf eagerfpu
pni pclmulqdq dtes64 monitor ds_cpl vmx est tm2 ssse3 cx16 xtpr pdcm pcid sse4_1 sse4_2 popcnt tsc_deadline_timer xsave
lahf_lm arat epb xsaveopt pln pts dtherm tpr_shadow vnmi flexpriority ept vpid
bogomips : 5802.75
clflush size : 64
cache_alignment : 64
address sizes : 36 bits physical, 48 bits virtual
power management:

We deleted information about CPU 1 because it repeats the data for 0 CPU presented above.

Information on the installed firmware version is located in /app/version file.

N8810U:~# cat /app/version
2.05.04

That's where we proceed to a completion of the brief review of command line interface capabilities and pass on to connecting the NAS to ESXi servers.

Connection to ESXi

Virtual environments built on VMWare (ESXi), Microsoft (Hyper-V) and Citrix software solutions win more and more acceptance with every single year. In the modern data storage system networks Thecus equipment can be used not only to store separate user files, but entire virtual disks that contain guest OSes too. A hypervisor conceals the real location of the system disk from the OS, which lets storing the data centrally without binding to a certain virtualization. As a matter of course, one can connect the remote resource using the guest OS tools, for example via SMB/CIFS or iSCSI protocols, but upon a connection like this one can only store user files (not system files) on the remote NAS.

Connection of remote Thecus N8810U-G NAS to ESXi server is performed using iSCSI protocol. In order to do this one needs to create a new iSCSI Software Adapter in Storage Adapters sub-group, Configuration group in the web-interface.

Once the adapter has been added, the administrator will need to adjust it by specifying the IP address of the iSCSI target whose functions are performed by Thecus data storage system.

After that one must add a new storage resource into the system using Storage group.

As soon as the new storage device has been successfully added, one will be able to use it for storing virtual disks of the guest OSes together with the local disk devices.

Now it's time to pass on to testing Thecus N8810U-G NAS.

Testing

The first testing procedure we usually begin our testing section with is 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. However, in this case we decided to veer off our tradition since the first echo replies are received already in 85 seconds after the device start, but the signal that informs one about the complete loading of the device sounds in 160 seconds after the device start. Anyway, it is a decent result for this type of devices.

The second traditional test was a security scanning procedure, which has been carried out from the LAN interface using Positive Technologies XSpider 7.7 (Demo build 3100) utility. On the whole, there were nine open ports discovered. The most interesting data of those we obtained are presented below.

And though usually the NAS is located somewhere deep the company's network, we still are somehow puzzled at the possibility of recording data to certain directories. Obviously, HTTP access via TCP-9800 can be limited by ACL on routers or L3 switches. However, Thecus N8810U-G data storage system is an SMB device, which means that the chances are that there won't be a network security specialist within the company.

Before getting down to performance tests we would like to get our readers familiar with the key specifications of the test stand we used.

Component PC
Motherboard ASUS Maximus VI Extreme
CPU Intel Core i7 4790K 4 GHz
RAM DDR3 PC3-10700 SEC 32 Gbytes
NIC

Thecus C10GTR
Thecus C10GT
Intel X540-T1

OS Windows Server 2008 R2 x64
VMWare ESXi 5.5.0 Update 2

We used 16 4 GByte HGST Deskstar NAS 0F22408 HDDs instead of the ones we used previously. Perhaps we should say a few words about the discs. The above-mentioned HDD model is meant to be used in multidisc systems. That's why the disk is powered by RVS system, standing for rotational vibration safeguard, that decreases the data carrier proper vibration and mitigates the influence of the exterior vibrations on the device operation. RVS technology possesses several sensors that are installed very close to the tape reading head. Information about vibrations received from the sensors is then used for stabilizing the position of the reading head in reference to the disk plates. An approach like this allows for disk stabilization and increased accuracy of positioning of the reading heads in reference to the track without losing time on extra moving. This, as the vendor claims, lets significantly increase access speeds to the user data. An example of dependence of the reading head position from the time upon usage of RVS and without it is presented on the picture below. Unfortunately, one cannot disable RVS technology, and therefore we could not perform our own measurements of its influence on the read/write speeds.

Thecus N8810U-G NAS supports four file systems: EXT3, EXT4, XFS, and experimental BTRFS. We successfully formatted the disk space into three latter file systems. EXT3 performance didn't really matter due to its limitations. At first we used SMB/CIFS protocol in order to access the user data located in the data storage system.

We also couldn’t help but overlook the performance of the device upon maintaining block access via iSCSI.

All of three participators performed pretty well: in certain tests one file system allowed for the high speed and another one in the other tests. We may look too conservative, but at this moment in time we wouldn't entrust BTRFS with our key importance data and we would rather prefer using EXT4 or XFS.

One can ensure safety and security of the user data by encrypting them upon uploading them to the NAS. Performance of Thecus N8810U-G upon operation with encrypted data is presented for two protocols below. As one can see from the diagrams presented below, encryption significantly affects the performance of the data storage system.

One can access the NAS not only using IPv4, but via IPv6 too. Unfortunately, currently N8810U-G doesn't have simultaneous support of iSCSI and IPv6.

Also, we connected a 750 Gbyte Transcend StoreJet 25M3 hard disk with a USB 3.0 interface to the data storage system.

As a matter of course, we couldn't help but find out the NAS performance upon operation with VMWare ESXi. The first thing we started with was establishing the booting time of the guest OS whose virtual system disk was located on the test PC local disk at first and then on Thecus N8810U-G RAID60 EXT4 NAS. By saying the booting time we mean a time interval starting with the moment when the power is on until the home screen is shown. We booted Windows 7 x64 guest OS from the local disk for three successive times. Every time the system booted in 34 seconds. Then we transferred the virtual disk to Thecus data storage system and tried to boot it from there. The first time the system needed 30 seconds to boot, but two other times it took just 11 seconds each, which probably happened due to the data caching in the NAS.

We used Intel NASPT utility, executed in the guest OS, in order to find out what access speeds the OS would have to the data stored on the system disk upon storing the virtual disk on the local device and connecting it via the network.

That's where we draw the testing chapter to a close and move on to summing it all up.

Conclusion

Generally, we are glad about Thecus N8810U-G NAS we tested. It is meant to be used in small to mid businesses in data storage systems. And though this model doesn't have all fail-safety capabilities that N16000PRO NAS which we tested before has, Thecus N8810U-G is fitted with two PSUs that protect it from the most common problem, power failures. It's also worth noticing that Thecus company also produces N8810U model, which is different from its counterpart under review in absence of a 10 GE network card.

Strength areas of Thecus N8810U-G NAS are presented below.

  • High data access speeds
  • Support of IPv6
  • Ability to increase the device functionality by installing free add-ons
  • Ability to aggregate network interfaces and grouping the NASes into a stack
  • Firmware upgrade process may be carried out both in a manual and semi-automatic mode
  • Presence of two PSUs
  • Built-in 10 GE card
  • Support encryption of the stored data

Unfortunately, we cannot help to mention certain drawbacks of the model.

  • Presence of a probable vulnerability of Bash command interpreter (has been fixed in the latest firmware versions)
  • Inability to connect to the device using iSCSI via IPv6
  • Presence of a probable vulnerability in HTTP service in TCP-9800 port

As of when this article was being written, the recommended price for Thecus N8810U-G (not including the disks) in Moscow online shops was 101,500 roubles.

The author and editorial team are grateful to Tayle Company, the official distributor of Thecus network equipment in Russia, for kindly furnishing us with the NAS and HDDs for testing.

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