NAS

Synology FlashStation FS3017 Review

Editors Choice

SMBs and enterprises looking for the best storage performance are increasingly finding flash arrays have all the answers but this can come at a high price. Most only support expensive SAS SSDs so populating an array will cost many times more than the initial price of the hardware.

NAS supremo Synology makes its first move into all-flash territory with its FlashStation FS3017 which aims to offer an affordable alternative to the blue chips. 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 asking price looks high but the FS3017 offers a superb hardware specification with dual 2.4GHz E5-2620 v3 Xeons at the helm teamed up with a decent 64GB of ECC DDR4 memory. The motherboard has 16 DIMM slots allowing memory to be increased to an app-busting 512GB.

FS3017 rear

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 you must fit Synology’s FXC17 SAS 3 expansion card which has a hefty $850 price tag.

 DSM 6.1 introduces Synology’s RAID F1 option which is designed to avoid simultaneous SSD failures

DSM 6.1 introduces Synology’s RAID F1 option which is designed to avoid simultaneous SSD failures

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 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 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 arrays types including RAID5 and 6.

Data protection goodness

The smart Hyper Backup app provides a single location for managing all your data backup tasks

The smart Hyper Backup app provides a single location for managing all your data backup tasks

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 clever 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.

Along with extensive data protection tools, DSM provides a wealth of cloud storage and file syncing apps

Along with extensive data protection tools, DSM provides a wealth of cloud storage and file syncing apps

Flash performance and IOPS

We kicked off 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 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

Conclusion

As our test results were achieved using only eight SATA SSDs, we expect the FS3017 with a full house of SSD storage would deliver the claimed 200,000 IOPS for random write iSCSI operations. What impressed us more though, was its blistering NAS performance and the superb range of features offered by the latest DSM software.

A starting price of $9,995 for an all-flash appliance without dual controller redundancy is comparatively high 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.

Where to buy
Synology FS3017 Diskless 24-bay NAS Sever

Synology FS3017 diskless 24-bay NAS Server, Intel Xeon E5-2620 v3 x 2, 64 GB DDR4 ECC RDIMM, USB 3.0 Port x2, 2.5" SAS and SATA SDD Support.

$9995

Review Score
8.5 Total Score
Synology FlashStation FS3017

As our test results were achieved using only eight SATA SSDs, we expect the FS3017 with a full house of SSD storage would deliver the claimed 200,000 IOPS for random write iSCSI operations. What impressed us more though, was its blistering NAS performance and the superb range of features offered by the latest DSM software.

Performance
8.5
Features
9.5
Build Quality
8
Usability
9
Value
7.5
PROS
  • Supports low-cost SATA SSDs
  • Top NAS performance
  • SAS3 support
  • Great data protection tools
CONS
  • High starting price
User Rating: 4.43 (7 votes)
Editors Choice

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