Synology sharpens its focus on the entry-level all-Flash storage market with a new desktop appliance that brings this technology well within the budgets of small businesses. The FlashStation FS1018 supports up to 12 high-performance SATA SFF SSDs, incorporates many of the features found in Synology’s high-end FS3017 and FS2017 appliances and delivers it all at an appealing price.
The FS1018 is a very compact unit as it’s the same depth and height as Synology’s DS1517+ but only 32mm wider. However, there the similarities end as the FS1018 sports a dual-core 2.2GHz D1508 Xeon CPU partnered by 8GB of faster DDR4 memory expandable to a healthy 32GB.
Along with a quartet of Gigabit ports, the FS1018 has a spare PCI-Express expansion slot supporting a host of industry-standard 10GbE adapters. Expansion potential is good too, as it offers a pair of high-performance Infiniband ports that support Synology’s 12-bay DX1215 desktop disk units.
Build quality and noise
The FS1018 exhibits the same sturdy build quality as all other Synology desktop appliances. The chassis is cooled by two 9cms diameter fans at the rear and although they emit a faint whining, we found noise levels of only 39dB from one meter in front to be quite acceptable.
Memory upgrades are simple as the two DIMM slots are located underneath the appliance behind a removable metal panel. Usefully, the base 8GB is supplied as a single module so you can upgrade to 16GB without any memory loss.
We wanted to test the FS1018 over 10GbE so our first job was to install an Emulex dual-port 10GBase-T adapter card. This was easy enough as the lid is simple to remove allowing us to quickly slot the card in at the side.
We then loaded up eight 400GB Kingston DC400 SATA SSDs. Each tray has two small clips on one side that are flicked back when loading the SSD and then pushed back in place to lock it.
Due to the close proximity of the drive carriers and the sensitivity of their push-button locking mechanism, we found it all too easy to accidentally pop adjacent ones open when inserting a drive. To avoid this, we recommend using the small plastic key to lock each carrier shut after it’s been loaded.
A new RAID
We had no problems deploying the appliance using the browser-based Web Assistant which ensured the latest DSM 6.1 production software was loaded. A feature unique to the FlashStation family is Synology’s RAID F1 technology which is designed to avoid multiple, simultaneous SSD failures.
There’s nothing extra you need do as the whole process is automatic. During F1 array creation, the appliance nominates one SSD to receive more parity bits so it 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 takes the next oldest one to receive the extra workload and you can monitor them all 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.
For NAS testing, we opted to push the FS1018 hard by using Lenovo and Dell Xeon Scalable Windows Server 2016 hosts each with dedicated shares mapped over direct 10GbE connections. Iometer reported impressive cumulative sequential read and write speeds of 17.1Gbits/sec and 11.8Gbits/sec while swapping to random operations saw read speeds hold steady and cumulative writes drop to 7.8Gbits/sec.
NAS I/O throughput is impressive as with Iometer set to 4KB transfer requests, we recorded total sequential read and write rates of 211,000 and 95,000 IOPS dropping to 179,000 and 51,500 IOPS for random operations.
For IP SAN tests, we used one Xeon Scalable server and configured a dual 10GbE MPIO link to a 500GB target on the FS1018. Iometer reported fast sequential read and write speeds of 17.9Gbits/sec and 11Gbits/sec with random operations returning the same read speeds but dropping to 5.5Gbits/sec for writes.
Throughput is pleasing as Iometer returned 123,000 and 86,000 IOPS for sequential reads and writes and 123,000 and 42,000 IOPS for random operations – thus confirming Synology’s claimed iSCSI random write speeds. Even better, during all tests we rarely saw latency creep above 1.4ms.
DSM 6.2 beta
After speed testing, we upgraded the appliance to the DSM 6.2 beta which delivers a number of new features. The FS1018 is perfect for running the Virtual Machine Manager allowing it to host multiple VMs running your choice of OS.
Performance is excellent as we had a Windows Server 2016 VM deployed on the FS1018 in under six minutes – the fastest yet. We accessed it directly via the remote console option, used the vSwitch feature to isolate our VM traffic on selected network interfaces and employed the app’s Protection Plans to create regular snapshots of our VMs.
The new iSCSI Manager app improves IP SAN features. It simplifies target management and improves monitoring while the advanced LUN option delivers faster snapshot and recovery processes.
The Hyper Backup app looks after all your backup tasks and now integrates with Synology’s new C2 Backup cloud service. Ideal for essential off-site backups and ransomware protection, you can run Hyper Backup jobs that copy folders on the appliances to cloud storage.
The FS1018 is a little powerhouse of a storage appliance that delivers excellent all-Flash performance for NAS and IP SAN services. Best suited to users that value speed over capacity, its high I/O throughput and low latency makes it perfect for hosting demanding apps such as virtualization and a price tag of only $1,599 for a diskless unit makes it an affordable option for small businesses.
- Very good price
- Support for low-cost SATA SSDs
- High IOPS for NAS and IP SANs
- Smart RAID F1 feature
- New virtualization app
- Fiddly drive mounting trays