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Qnap TDS-16489U Double Server Review

QNAP TDS-16489U front view

Qnap is reaching for the enterprise with its latest Double Server series of storage appliances as they are the first on the market to employ server-grade CPUs. They focus firmly on virtualization by providing a complete solution that can run multiple VMs and provision fast local storage rather than rely on separate hypervisor hosts and expensive external storage arrays.

Be under no illusions – these 3U 16-bay rack appliances are equipped with an insane hardware specification. We have the TDS-16489U-SA1 model on review which sports dual 6-core 2.4GHz E5-2620 v3 Xeons and 64GB of DDR4 RDIMM memory that can be expanded to a massive 1TB.

The SA2 model has the same CPUs but is supplied with 128GB of memory. Next up are the SB2 and SB3 versions which are powered by dual 8-core E5-2630 v3 CPUs and 128GB or 256GB of DDR4 respectively.

Storage madness

Even storage gets the enterprise treatment as the drive backplane doesn’t use SAS expanders. Instead, the motherboard has triple embedded LSI SAS 3 controllers where each supports a maximum of seven 12Gbps ports and are cabled directly to the backplane.

All sixteen front bays support SAS 3 and SATA III LFF or SFF hard disks and SSDs plus there are four more SFF hot-plug drive bays at the back. These are specifically for adding SSDs to use as read or read-write caches to accelerate IOPS.

QNAP TDS-16489U rear view

There’s more as the appliance has four PCI-Express expansion slots. These can be used for NVMe PCIe SSDs for ultra-fast caching, a GPU pass-through card, 10GbE or 40GbE network adapters and SAS 3 external expansion cards allowing total raw capacity to be pushed to over 1PB.

Network connections extend to a pair of Gigabit ports but Qnap’s quad-port 10GbE SFP+ module isn’t currently available due to issues with it. For now, Qnap will be supplying these systems with two dual-port 10GbE SFP+ PCI-Express cards.

Virtualize away

Qnap’s Virtualization Station

Qnap’s Virtualization Station makes light work of creating and managing multiple virtual machines

Two key apps for Double Server operations are Qnap’s Virtualization Station and Container Station which provide a slick (and free!) hybrid solution. The former allows you to host virtual machines (VMs) running just about any OS you care to name while the latter integrates with LXC and Docker and can host a huge variety of Linux-based business apps in isolated lightweight containers.

We tested using the Virtualization Station, created VMs using its configuration templates and imported predefined ones from the VMware Marketplaces. We had no problems setting up Windows Server 2012 R2, Windows 10 and Ubuntu Desktop VMs and could choose the local storage we wanted their hard disk images to be stored on.

It was easy enough to remotely access our VMs directly from the app’s interface and control power as well. Another bonus is snapshots can be taken on demand and used to roll back VMs making this app ideal for testing.

Data tiering

Qnap’s Qtier

Qnap’s Qtier supports three storage tiers and migrates data across them according to usage

Qnap’s Qtier is another feature ideally suited to virtualized applications as it monitors storage pool activity and migrates data blocks across up to three storage levels based on usage. The ultra-high speed tier would comprise SSDs, the high-speed tier would use SAS drives and the capacity tier can employ lower cost NL-SAS or SATA drives.

To test Qtier, we used a 400GB HGST MLC SAS 3 SSD, four Seagate SAS 3 15K SFF drives and four WD Enterprise NL-SAS drives. Tiered storage pool creation was simple as a wizard ran through each tier and only allowed us to choose the appropriate drives for each one based on their interface and speed.

Qtier isn’t a dynamic process as it runs scheduled data reallocation tasks. Even so, this allowed us to run them during specific time periods each day, designate the tier with the highest priority and select from three migration rates to avoid any impact on general operations.

We monitored the migration process from a statistics screen which showed data movement across the three tiers. A history report also provides graphs for each tier showing clearly how data is being migrated.

Excellent performance

QNAP remote console for the TDS-16489U

We used the app’s remote console to access and monitor our test VMs

To test 10GbE performance we used a Boston Fenway dual Xeon E5-2600 v4 rack server running Windows Server 2012 R2 and equipped with an Emulex dual-port 10GbE SFP+ adapter. With so much horsepower under the hood we weren’t surprised to see the Double Server rip through our tests.

With a mapped NAS share on our data tier, Iometer reported raw read and write rates of 9.2Gbits/sec and 9Gbits/sec. Copying a 25GB file between the server and share returned equally impressive read and write speeds of 7.6Gbits/sec and 4.5Gbits/sec.

Our 22.4GB backup test folder and its 10,500 small files was speedily secured at a rate of 2.6Gbits/sec. As expected, encryption wasn’t a problem with our 25GB test file copied to an encrypted share at an average of 1.8Gbits/sec.

IP SAN performance was tops as well with Iometer reporting read and write speeds of 9.2Gbits/sec for a 600GB target. With a dual-10GbE MPIO link to the target, we watched read and write performance ramp up to 18Gbits/sec and 15.2Gbits/sec.

PROS:
  • Server-grade hardware
  • End-to-end SAS 3 support
  • Super performance
  • Free Virtualization and Container Station apps
  • Feature-rich QTS software

CONS:
  • Quad-port 10GbE module not currently available

Conclusion

As a complete virtualization platform and application server, the TDS-16489U Double Server has a lot to offer as it’s more cost-effective than classic solutions that require separate hypervisor hosts and storage arrays. With dual E5-2600 v3 Xeons under the hood, it also has plenty of power on tap – our three test VMs barely woke them up.

Storage features are equally impressive with SAS 3 support throughout, a wide range of on-board caching options and a big expansion potential. The Virtualization and Container Station apps allow it to run any OS or app you want and they have the added bonus of being included free with Qnap’s feature-packed QTS software.

7.5 Total Score
Enterprise Grade Performance

As a complete virtualization platform and application server, the TDS-16489U Double Server has a lot to offer as it’s more cost-effective than classic solutions that require separate hypervisor hosts and storage arrays. With dual E5-2600 v3 Xeons under the hood, it also has plenty of power on tap – our three test VMs barely woke them up.

Storage features are equally impressive with SAS 3 support throughout, a wide range of on-board caching options and a big expansion potential. The Virtualization and Container Station apps allow it to run any OS or app you want and they have the added bonus of being included free with Qnap’s feature-packed QTS software.

Performance
9.5
Features
9.5
Build Quality
8
Usability
9
Value
8.5
User Rating: 3.5 (8 votes)

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