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Desktop Thecus N10850 NAS

Introduction

External design

Hardware

Web-interface review

Command line interface review

Testing

Conclusion

Introduction

We haven’t got Thecus desktop network attached storages for more than a year. During this time we were testing rack-mounted multidisk systems. Today a model Thecus N10850 with tower case, allowing installation of up to ten hard disks with SATA interface, was delivered to our laboratory. Such a volume of data stored along with a powerful CPU, would be in demand among big companies, which don’t have their own infrastructure for rack-mounted equipment using. A range of applications of the device in question isn’t limited by just storing the files of basic users, but extends to images of virtual machines storing, web-hosting, backing up, data of surveillance system storing, etc. Now, let’s turn to its detailed study!

External design

Thecus N10850 NAS comes in metallic case with the dimensions of 436х235х283 mm.

At the front panel there are power ON/OFF buttons, USB 2.0 and USB 3.0 ports, LCD, showing main settings and buttons for managing the storage, and also LED indicators of network interfaces and USB ports operation status. A considerable part of the front panel is covered with perforated metallic door, behind which ten bays used for HDDs mounting are situated.

Upper, bottom and side surfaces of the storage are not remarkable for anything.

A considerable part of a rear panel is covered with ventilation grating, behind which two ventilators are concealed, used for cooling of the case of the storage. Functions of power supply are entrusted to internal supply unit Enhanced Electronic ENH-1940 with 400 Watt. It is worth mentioning that sometimes a ventilator of the power supply turned on and kept working for some time although the device itself was off. To be honest, it puzzled us a bit. Such operation of the cooling system could be quite normal for rack-mounted devices, as it seems to us, ventilators shouldn’t turn on spontaneously in desktop models. At the rear panel there are also audio slots, two Gigabit Ethernet ports, two USB 2.0 and two USB 3.0 interfaces, eSATA port, COM-port and HDMI interface. Besides, there are GPIO (General Purpose Input/Output) contacts situated. The network storage discussed obtains an extensible configuration which means the possibility of setting additional cards inside the case. In the photo below right one of such expansion cards is set – network interface card 10GE – Thecus C10GTR.

Let’s have a look inside the case of the device now.

Hardware

Electronic fitting of Thecus N10850 network storage is represented by several textolite cards. The essential elements of the card are located on one its side.

The system is powered by Intel Xeon E3-1225 CPU with four cores working at 3.1 GHz. RAM is presented by two Transcend boards with Samsung K4B2G0846Q chips, the volume of each one is 2 Gbytes. Thus, the total RAM memory space available in the system is 4 Gbytes.

Two Gigabit Ethernet controllers Intel 82574L are responsible for network operating.

Booting of the device is performed from flash-storage with the capacity of 1 Gbyte and SATA interface, powered by Toshiba TC58NVG3S0FTA00 chip, served by JMicron JMF605 controller. We have already seen such a controller in network storages Thecus models N4800Eco and N16000PRO. Monitoring of system element temperature, FAN speed is carried out by Winbond W83795G chip, which we have already seen, for example, in N16000 model. We have also met before the I/O controller Fintek F71889ED. HDMI port is supported by Pericom PI3VDP411LS chip, and two USB 3.0 interfaces – by Renesas D720200 chip. There are also two bus PCI Express PLX Technology PEX8604 switches at the board. A Realtek ALC262 module is responsible for sound.

It'd be fair to point out that certain information about the hardware of the Thecus N10850 NAS can be received also using its web-interface (point «Hardware information» of «System information» group).

The file /proc/cpuinfo also contains information about CPU (information about three other cores of CPU was omitted from the output below).

N10850:/proc# cat cpuinfo
processor : 0
vendor_id : GenuineIntel
cpu family : 6
model : 42
model name : Intel(R) Xeon(R) CPU E31225 @ 3.10GHz
stepping : 7
microcode : 0x1a
cpu MHz : 3100.085
cache size : 6144 KB
physical id : 0
siblings : 4
core id : 0
cpu cores : 4
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 smx est tm2 ssse3 cx16 xtpr pdcm pcid sse4_1 sse4_2 x2apic popcnt tsc_deadline_timer
aes xsave avx lahf_lm ida arat epb xsaveopt pln pts dtherm tpr_shadow vnmi flexpriority ept vpid
bogomips : 6202.51
clflush size : 64
cache_alignment : 64
address sizes : 36 bits physical, 48 bits virtual
power management:

Thereupon we finish out brief review of the hardware platform of network attached storage Thecus N10850 and turn to examining its software capabilities.

Web-interface review

We have described capabilities of web-interface of Thecus network storages more than once, that’s why this time we will save our readers from extensive description of all menu points, but focus on those capabilities which we found interesting in firmware of 2.05.06 version for N10850 model.

There are three different ways to turn on the network storage: manually, on schedule or using a WoL (Wake-On-LAN) technology. Setting up an on/off schedule of the device is carried out through the point «Scheduled On/Off» of «System Management» group. Interfaces, through which turning on by WoL is supported, can be selected in the point «Wake-On-LAN» of the same group. Here, perhaps, it’s worth mentioning that additionally set network interface cards can’t be used by WoL function.

In «System Management» group we found a point «Hardware Control», allowing choosing operating mode of each of 8 GPIO contacts, placed at the rear panel of the storage case. Though web-interface it is only possible to specify whether one or another GPIO line works for input or output. No other settings are specified by now, we are also not aware about add-ons, supporting the functional provided, thus, an eventual user doesn’t have a possibility to use this input/output interface so far.

A point «Samba/CIFS» of «Network Service» group contains a considerable number of settings, but at the moment N10850 doesn’t support SMB protocol of the third version, which could be in demand, for example, in case of organizing of a load-balancing (MPIO – MultiPath Input/Output) when using SMB-connecting to the storage. Such a balancing is realized for iSCSI protocol, which, however, is less widespread in networks of small and average companies.

We found a point «VPN Client» of «Network Service» group to be another amusing menu point. Using this point an administrator can set up a PPTP-connection to a remote server. However, this connection can be set up only manually. At the moment it is also impossible to connect the storage using SMB or iSCSI, but web-interface and FTP are available. The only example of such a connection, from our point of view, can be a connection of N10850, situated somewhere in the network of a branch of a company, to a main office for its administrating by the central site IT staff. But a multi-location company will surely have dedicated lines or VPN-connections for connecting brunches networks with headquarters entirely, but not only with a one single NAS. We hope, the vendor will update this point, making it more flexible and convenient for usage. After this review had already been finished, we got a message from the vendor, which informed about the plans of adding the support of SMB/CIFS protocol operating over the discussed PPTP-tunnel.

To be fair, we should mention that at the moment of writing the review two modules (Tinc VPN and OpenVPN) were available for downloading, supporting functionality of VPN-service: however, their interface can’t be called user-friendly concerning a general user or immature administrator.

At this point we finish our review of several points of web-interface of the network storage and pass on to its command line.

Command line interface review

Managing the access to the command line of the device is performed using «SSH» point of «Network Service» group.

For getting an access a login root and the same password that was used for admin user in the web-interface are used. Traditionally the presence of BusyBox of version 1.16.1 in operating system Linux Red Hat with a core of version 3.10.47 can be observed.

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.
N10850:~# busybox
BusyBox v1.16.1 (2014-09-30 15:16:44 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
N10850:~# uname -a
Linux N10850 3.10.47 #1 SMP Tue Sep 30 15:11:09 CST 2014 x86_64 GNU/Linux
N10850:/# 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 Sep 30 15:11:09 CST 2014

Contents of /app, /bin, /sbin, /usr/bin, /usr/sbin catalogues we places in a separate file. Let’s turn to catalogue /proc and have a look which files are situated here and also find out the operating system uptime and its average utilization, get the information on CPU installed and the amount of RAM. The operating system workload information can also be received using /usr/bin/uptime utility.

N10850:/# ls /proc
1/ 1365/ 15658/ 3284/ interrupts
10/ 1380/ 15843/ 3286/ iomem
11/ 13829/ 16/ 337/ ioports
1115/ 13833/ 16192/ 351/ irq/
1116/ 13918/ 16193/ 3614/ kallsyms
11600/ 13919/ 16194/ 3624/ kcore
11601/ 13929/ 16195/ 3783/ key-users
11614/ 13931/ 16196/ 3811/ kmsg
11615/ 13933/ 16197/ 4078/ kpagecount
1162/ 13936/ 1662/ 452/ kpageflags
11651/ 13937/ 16657/ 454/ loadavg
11658/ 13938/ 167/ 490/ locks
11659/ 13939/ 169/ 5/ mdstat
1166/ 13956/ 1691/ 5210/ meminfo
1167/ 13962/ 16964/ 551/ misc
11737/ 14/ 17/ 584/ modules
11738/ 14143/ 170/ 585/ mounts@
11739/ 1419/ 171/ 587/ mtrr
11740/ 14416/ 173/ 7/ net@
1181/ 14430/ 17307/ 7293/ pagetypeinfo
11826/ 14431/ 17308/ 8/ partitions
11833/ 14442/ 1737/ 9/ pca9532
11896/ 14443/ 1764/ 9044/ pca9532_id
11897/ 14444/ 18/ 9081/ sched_debug
11927/ 14445/ 1810/ acpi/ scsi/
11992/ 14446/ 1832/ buddyinfo self@
11996/ 14447/ 1874/ bus/ softirqs
12/ 14448/ 1898/ cgroups stat
12317/ 14449/ 19/ cmdline swaps
12361/ 14514/ 2/ consoles sys/
1298/ 14524/ 20/ cpuinfo sysrq-trigger
13/ 14556/ 20176/ crypto sysvipc/
1318/ 14627/ 20223/ devices thecus_event
13204/ 14727/ 21/ diskstats thecus_eventc
13244/ 14728/ 21342/ dma thecus_io
13245/ 15/ 22/ dri/ timer_list
13246/ 15487/ 2496/ driver/ tty/
13248/ 15489/ 3/ enhanceio/ uptime
13249/ 15490/ 30464/ execdomains version
1330/ 15515/ 30467/ fb vmallocinfo
13449/ 15530/ 30470/ filesystems vmstat
1347/ 15548/ 3220/ fs/ zoneinfo
13515/ 15597/ 3277/ hwm
13574/ 15657/ 3282/ ide/
N10850:/# cat /proc/uptime
4964.97 19560.60
N10850:/# cat /proc/loadavg
0.04 0.04 0.07 1/158 17557
N10850:/# /usr/bin/uptime
16:25:24 up 1:23, load average: 0.03, 0.04, 0.07
N10850:/# cat /proc/meminfo
MemTotal: 3928956 kB
MemFree: 3032840 kB
Buffers: 42460 kB
Cached: 360436 kB
SwapCached: 0 kB
Active: 123684 kB
Inactive: 345976 kB
Active(anon): 93620 kB
Inactive(anon): 70516 kB
Active(file): 30064 kB
Inactive(file): 275460 kB
Unevictable: 3272 kB
Mlocked: 3272 kB
SwapTotal: 2096112 kB
SwapFree: 2096112 kB
Dirty: 0 kB
Writeback: 0 kB
AnonPages: 70056 kB
Mapped: 15040 kB
Shmem: 95324 kB
Slab: 88292 kB
SReclaimable: 52160 kB
SUnreclaim: 36132 kB
KernelStack: 1312 kB
PageTables: 8604 kB
NFS_Unstable: 0 kB
Bounce: 0 kB
WritebackTmp: 0 kB
CommitLimit: 4060588 kB
Committed_AS: 269320 kB
VmallocTotal: 34359738367 kB
VmallocUsed: 350456 kB
VmallocChunk: 34359377920 kB
DirectMap4k: 10740 kB
DirectMap2M: 4059136 kB
N10850:/# cat /proc/cpuinfo
processor : 0
vendor_id : GenuineIntel
cpu family : 6
model : 42
model name : Intel(R) Xeon(R) CPU E31225 @ 3.10GHz
stepping : 7
microcode : 0x1a
cpu MHz : 3100.045
cache size : 6144 KB
physical id : 0
siblings : 4
core id : 0
cpu cores : 4
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 smx est tm2 ssse3 cx16 xtpr pdcm pcid sse4_1 sse4_2 x2apic popcnt tsc_deadline_timer
aes xsave avx lahf_lm ida arat epb xsaveopt pln pts dtherm tpr_shadow vnmi flexpriority ept vpid
bogomips : 6202.42
clflush size : 64
cache_alignment : 64
address sizes : 36 bits physical, 48 bits virtual
power management:

We have truncated the information about «CPUs» 1-3 as it repeats the data provided above for CPU #0.

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

N10850:/# cat /app/version
2.05.06

That’s where we finish our brief review of the command line of the device.

Testing

The first test, from which we usually start this section, includes the estimation of the booting time of the storage, by which we understand an interval between the moment of turning on of the device and getting the first echo-reply through ICMP. The first echo-reply is received on the 93-rd second of booting of the device, but at this moment the storage isn’t ready for work yet and doesn’t perform its main functions. User data become fully available after 167 seconds (almost three minutes) after applying power. We consider the result obtained to be quite normal for equipment of this kind.

The second traditional test is a security check of the device using a network security scanner Positive Technologies XSpider 7.7 (Demo Build 3100). Twelve open ports were detected in total. The most interesting data obtained are given below.

Before turning directly to performance testing of the storage we would like to make our readers acquainted with the main characteristics of a test stand. The testing was carried out using an Intel NASPT utility of version 1.7.1. RAM capacity, available to the system, was being reduced using msconfig utility to meet Intel recommendations.

Component PC
Motherboard ASUS Maximus VI Extreme
CPU Intel Core i7 4790K 4 GHz
RAM DDR3 PC3-10700 SEC 32 Gbytes
NIC Thecus C10GTR
OS Windows Server 2008 R2 x64
Windows Server 2012 R2

We used ten disks HGST Deskstar NAS 0F22408 with 4 Gbytes capacity as HDDs. The model mentioned is meant to be used in multi disk systems. Thereby the disk has RVS (Rotational Vibration Safeguard) system, decreasing own vibration of the storage, and also lowering the influence of the exterior vibrations on the device operation. RVS technology possesses several sensors, installed in immediate proximity to the tape reading head. Information about vibrations received from the sensors is then used for stabilizing the position of the reading head relatively to the disk plates. This approach allows stabilizing the disk and increasing accuracy of positioning of the reading heads in reference to the track without losing time on extra moving, which, according to vendor’s claims, lets to increase significantly access speeds to user data. An example of dependence of the reading head position from the time using 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.

We connected the network attached storage Thecus N10850 consecutively using SMB/CIFS and iSCSI protocols, focusing our attention on two file systems: EXT4 and BTRFS. But we would like to start with comparing performances of all three file systems of current concern: ETX4, BTRFS and XFS. We excluded EXT3 from examination because of its limitations, but its support is available in Thecus OS of the latest versions. Measurements were made using disk array RAID60. It is also worth mentioning that all the measurements, if another isn’t stated, were taken using the connection via additional NIC 10GE.

Afterwards we decided to compare the performance of the storage during operating with arrays of different types for EXT4 and BTRFS file systems.

Let’s try to find out the performance of the device while using only standard network interfaces. Thecus 10850 doesn’t support load balancing when connected through SMB/CIFS protocol (only for iSCSI connections), that’s why for SMB we compared only NAS performance using connections via GE and 10GE interfaces. While working via iSCSI protocol administrators can perform load balancing between the network interfaces, therefore in the diagram below we presented the results of data transmission speed with the use of GE, 10GE and two parallel GE links.

We couldn’t skip the support of encrypted disk arrays by the model N10850.

As the network storage tested allows connecting not only using IPv4 protocol, but also IPv6, we decided to find out which speeds would be available for users using a new version of the protocol. Unfortunately, IPv6 support is realized only for SMB/CIFS connections yet.

Not only data, situated at internal hard disks, are available for users of N10850 model, but also at external storages, which can be connected through USB interface. In the diagram below there is performance of NAS tested when operating with an external disk Transcend StoreJet 25M3, which has 750 Gbytes capacity with USB 3.0 interface, which we traditionally use for all tests.

In the foreseeable future we are planning to change a bit the parameters of the test stand used, namely to change operating system from Windows Server 2008R2 x64 to Windows Server 2012R2. In the diagram below there is a comparison of Thecus N10850 performance using connections of both operating systems. Unfortunately, we detected a substantial discrepancy in speeds measured. That’s why before complete turning to using only Windows 2012R2 as a testing platform; we will provide our readers with such comparative tests for different network devices several times more.

We also decided to run some experiments with winsat utility, which is a part of desktop Windows operating systems. This utility is intended for comparative estimation of the performance of the equipment, used by operating system.

Although only summary evaluation in a form of grades from 1.0 to 7.9 is available for users of graphic interface, the utility itself provides a bit more detailed data for each component of PC. Naturally, we were interested in estimations of the performance of the «remote storage» connected using iSCSI protocol. Work with SMB/CIFS protocol isn’t supported by this utility.

In the diagrams below we presented the main parameters of the performance of N10850 NAS in terms of winsat utility. Unfortunately, the results obtained can’t be called adequate, what is probably connected with the purpose of the utility winsat itself – to estimate performance rates of equipment. We are highly likely to give up using it in future.

The complete results of the winsat utility operation are available for every person interested in a text file.

This is where we bring the testing section to the end and turn to making conclusions.

Conclusion

On the whole we stayed satisfied with the network storage Thecus N10850 tested, which supports operating of up to ten hard disks with SATA interface and SSD. And although this model comes as a desktop one, the speeds of user data transmission performed by it appeared to be comparable with the results which we obtained from its two- and tree-unit counterparts. But there are some moments puzzling us. First of all, a ventilator of a power unit doesn’t always turn off when the whole device is turned off, which might sometimes cause inconvenience for users. The model tested, although being a leader among Thecus tower NASes, has already been long in the market. However, users don’t still have any adequate means for working with GPIO. We also suppose that providing devices of this kind with the second power unit wouldn’t be superfluous.

The advantages of the network attached storage Thecus N10850 are enumerated below.

  • High data access speeds
  • IPv6 support
  • The possibility to widen the functions by installing free add-ons
  • The possibility of network interfaces aggregating and storages stacking
  • Firmware upgrade process both in a manual and semi-automatic mode
  • Adding VPN-connection support
  • The possibility to install additional expansion cards
  • The support of data stored encryption

Unfortunately, we cannot help also mentioning the drawbacks of the device.

  • Absence of full-fledged VPN-connection support
  • Inability to connect to the device using iSCSI via IPv6
  • Absence of GPIO interface support
  • A single power unit

At the moment when this article was being written, the recommended price for Thecus N10850 network attached storage (not including the disks) was 196400 roubles.

The author and editorial team are grateful to Tayle Company (www.tayle.com), the official distributor of Thecus network equipment in Russia, for kindly provided network storage and disks for testing.