Hard Disk Drives as reviewed – 480GB – Kingston DC400 SATA SSDs
Flash Arrays are increasingly finding their way into the SMB and enterprise markets, which demand the best performance. It’s not all rosy though as SAS SSD’s do come at a high price so populating an array will come at a much higher cost than just the initial hardware. Synology, the champion of the SMB NAS, makes its first move into the all-flash territory with its FlashStation FS3017 which aims to offer an affordable alternative to the high valued blue chips in the market. This 2U rack appliance supports up to 24 SFF SSDs and lets you choose high-performing, high-cost SAS or low-cost, high-capacity SATA SSDs.
The price of the FS3017 may seem high, but the unit has superb hardware specifications with dual 2.4GHz E5-2620 v3 Xeons at the helm teamed up with a decent 64GB of ECC DDR4 memory. The motherboard also has 16 DIMM slots allowing memory to be increased to an app-busting 512GB.
The FS3017’s Hardware and design
The FS3017 exhibits the sturdy build quality we’ve come to expect from Synology. The appliance has a pair of embedded 10GBase-T ports and provides power redundancy in the shape of dual 800W hot-plug PSUs.
A removable cover in the lid provides access to four hot-plug cooling fans and air is directed over the motherboard by a very solid plastic shroud. The storage arrangement is unusual as Synology has deployed a triplet of LSI SAS 9300-8i PCI-Express adapter cards with six cables connecting them to the drive backplane.
The upside is they deliver full 12Gbps SAS 3 and 6Gbps SATA III services to the backplane but the downside is they only leave two PCI-Express expansion slots free. You can increase the network port count as the FS3017 supports industry standard single- and dual-port adapters from Intel and Emulex plus 25GbE and 40GbE Mellanox cards.
Further capacity expansion is possible as the appliance accepts two 12-bay RX1217sas or 24-bay RX2417sas disk shelves. To use them, however, you must fit Synology’s FXC17 SAS 3 expansion card which has a hefty $850 price tag.
FS3017 Deployment and RAID F1
Deployment is deftly handled by the browser-based Web Assistant and wizard which downloaded and installed the latest DSM 6.1 software for us automatically. For testing, we loaded up eight Kingston DC400 480GB SATA SSDs and made our acquaintances with Synology’s RAID F1 array option.
This is a new feature in DSM 6.1 and is designed to counteract potential SSD wear caused by program/erase (P/E) cycles. During array creation, the appliance nominates one SSD to receive more parity bits that the rest.
The idea is this SSD will wear out quicker than the rest and can be replaced when it reaches the end of its life. When a new SSD is installed, the array will take the next oldest one to receive the extra workload and you can keep an eye on them from the Storage Manager app which provides health information and estimated lifespan.
Synology is also working on a RAID F2 version which delivers dual SSD resiliency. And if SSD wear isn’t a concern, you can choose from a good selection of standard array types including RAID 5 and 6.
Data protection goodness
Along with the new RAID array types, Synology’s DSM provides a wealth of data protection features. BTFRS volumes get NAS and IP SAN on-demand and scheduled snapshots and they can be replicated to remote Synology appliances as well.
NAS snapshots can also be replicated to local volumes allowing you to hold extra on-site copies for quick restores. Recovery options are excellent as we could restore or clone a share or LUN from the selected snapshot and use the File Station app to browse share snapshots and select individual files and folders.
The slick Hyper Backup app gets even more useful features as along with support for 19 different types of backup tasks, it can run integrity checks on backups and offers basic file-level deduplication. Workstations can be synced to the appliance using Synology’s client software but if you don’t want to load these you can use the handy Active Backup app which secures Windows and Linux shared drives and directories directly to the appliance without requiring an agent.
FS3017 Flash performance and IOPS
We commenced our performance tests with iSCSI and used an HPE ProLiant DL380 Gen9 rack server running Windows Server 2012 R2. With it logged in to a 500GB file-based target over a dedicated 10GbE connection, Iometer reported sequential raw read and write speeds of 9.2Gbps and 8.8Gbps.
With a dual 10GbE MPIO link in action, we saw speeds ramp up to 14.9Gbps and 10.8Gbps. Reducing the Iometer block size to 4KB returned sequential read and write throughputs of 173,000 IOPS and 154,000 IOPS dropping slightly to 170,000 IOPS and 150,000 IOPS for random operations.
NAS performance is very good with a mapped share delivering sequential read and write rates of 9.2Gbps and 9.1Gbps. Random read and write throughout for a single server settled at 124,000 IOPS and 87,000 IOPS.
With a second Windows server mapped to a dedicated share over its own 10GbE connection, we saw cumulative read and write rates increase 18.4Gbps and 18.3Gbps. We also watched cumulative random read and write throughout top out at an impressive 220,000 IOPS and 174,000 IOPS
A starting price of $9,995 for an all-flash appliance without dual controller redundancy is a tad on the higher side but this is outweighed by the option to use low-cost SATA SSDs. SMBs that want an affordable all-flash solution should consider the FlashStation FS3017.
While the FS3017's starting price is a tad on the high side, the cost is outweighed by the option to use low-cost SATA SSDs. The unit delivered a blistering NAS performance rating and superb range of features offered by the latest DSM software. SMBs that want an affordable all-flash solution should seriously consider the FlashStation FS3017 as a serious contender.
- SAS3 support
- Super performance
- Great data protection tools
- Supports low-cost SATA SSDs
- High starting price