Intel NASPT Test Results
NASPT brings an important perspective to our test protocol, as it is designed to measure the performance of a NAS system, as viewed from the end user’s perspective. Benchmarks like ATTO use Direct I/O Access to accurately measure disk performance with minimal influence from the OS and the host platform. This provides important, objective data that can be used to measure raw, physical performance. While it’s critical to measure the base performance, it’s also important to quantify what you can expect using real-world applications, and that’s exactly what NASPT does. In keeping with the real-world scenario, I only run these tests on the RAID 5 configurations, since that is what most users with a large or mid-size NAS are going to use. It just doesn’t make sense to run realistic test scenarios on unrealistic hardware configurations.
One of the disadvantages of NASPT is that it is influenced by the amount of memory installed on the client, and it was designed for systems that had 2-4 GB of RAM. Consequently, two of the tests give unrealistic results with modern systems, because they are measuring the speed of the buffer on the client, instead of the actual NAS performance. For that reason, we will completely ignore the results for “HD Video Record” and “File Copy to NAS”. Shown here is a batch run of 5 cycles through the tests, which turned out to be a bit slower than the individual runs. There seemed to be some wrinkles in the batch testing that don’t show up on individual test runs, which is a bit of a pain, to be honest. The numbers in the chart below are an average of five separate runs, which I believe are more accurate than results from a consolidated batch run.
With a single, 10GbE interface in place, the results always look better than any data I have from NAS models with only the slower GbE interface. Results for several of the tests that are more sequential in nature are in the 200-300 MB/s range. Some of the tests have very low transfer rates, and that’s due to the nature of the test. The Content Creation test for example, simulates a user creating a web page, accessing multiple sources for the content. The Directory Copy tests use several hundred directories and several thousand files to test a typical backup and restore scenario. That’s one of the most real-world types of test, and it’s useful for all of us to have a standard set of test data to use, because my directory of 1,000 random small files is never going to be the same as your directory of 1,000 random small files.
To summarize things, here are consolidated charts of the “Fast” NASPT tests, the “Medium-Speed” tests, and finally the two “Slow” ones. I’ve regrouped these into four charts this time, in order to make them more legible. As the number of entries grows, the text gets too small to read, at some point. I’ve highlighted the text for the QNAP TS-470 by using red italic text for those two test results – one result with the 10GbE interface, and with the slower GbE interface. There are only a couple models with the faster 10GbE connection. First, let’s look at the two tests with the highest transfer rates. The TS-470 comes out on top for the HD Video Playback trials, and close to it in the 4X playback test. The hardware is similar to the TS-870U-RP, so I expected the results to be closer, but the TS-470 had the very latest firmware on it. Sometimes that’s an advantage, but not always. With 1X Video Playback, the TS-470 hits an average rate of 347 MB/s with the help of the 10GbE NIC. In 4x Video Playback, the TS-470 hits a high of 235.7 MB/s, with the 4-disk configuration. The results with the GbE connection are much lower, but still at the very high end of the pack, compared to other NAS servers.
The Medium-Speed tests show the TS-470 putting in another very strong performance, relative to the comparable TS-870U-RP. The higher performance with the four-disk array and 10GbE NIC continues here, especially in the HD Playback & Record test. The EonNAS 850X takes third place in this grouping, and all the NAS units with single GbE interfaces are left in the weeds. The mixture of Reads and Writes makes this set of charts a little topsy-turvy, but the TS-470 continues its top performance with even the pedestrian GbE interface. This fantastic performance from an unassuming 4-bay NAS device.
The “Slow” tests generally are slow because the file transfers are done with data sets that contain a bunch of small files of irregular size. In addition, the Directory Copy tests are accessing the file system index much more heavily than in the other tests. This adds a unique component that could be critically important for some users. The Directory Copy To NAS and Directory Copy From NAS results show once again the effect of the 10GbE interface on performance. The top three contenders stay far ahead of all the other NAS solutions, with one difference; the EonNAS 850X takes a strong second place on the DIR Copy tests, no doubt due to the influence of its Solaris-based operating system. Its ZFS file system is known for being a monster, and it shows that quality here. This is a good demonstration of why it pays to look closely at your potential use cases when shopping for any H/W or S/W solution. The TS-870U-RP puts in a third place effort, not too far behind the others.
The Office Productivity and Content Creation are my least favorite tests in the NASPT suite for two reasons. One, I don’t see most NAS products being used in this fashion. Maybe I’m behind the times, and desktop virtualization will make this a very important benchmark in the near future. Second, the results never seemed to scale very well with the system performance that I was seeing on other tests. The Content Creation results, in particular make no sense to me, so I’ve stopped reporting them. The net improvement from a 10x speed increase in the network interface is only about 15%, much lower than in any other tests. That was enough to push the regular top three performers over the line again. This time, the TS-870U-RP takes the first spot in both tests, with an especially strong performance in the Photo Album benchmark. This test is a bunch of small files again, of varying sizes, arranged in a complex directory structure. This is a very common type of data set, and these results have always seemed more relevant than the other two.
The NASPT benchmark has showed some real world anomalies over time, some of which I wasn’t expecting. Beyond the simple sequential results that are easy to measure and very consistent, is a world of data that is immeasurably complex in its variations. The Intel NASPT suite is one of the few that challenges NAS devices with realistic data sets. The results can be a bit messy to interpret, like they were in this case, but they’ve also provided the greatest potential insight into NAS performance of any commonly used benchmark. Stay tuned to see if we have similar challenges on some non-traditional NAS tests, in the next section.
NAS Comparison Products
- QNAP TS-870U-RP 8-bay SATA NAS Server
- EonNAS 1100 NAS Network Storage Server
- ASUSTOR AS-604T NAS Network Storage Server
- EonNAS 850X NAS Network Storage Server
- Thecus N5550 4-Bay SATA NAS Server
- Netgear ReadyNAS NV+ v2 4-bay SATA NAS Server
- QNAP TS-879U-RP 8-bay SATA NAS Server
- QNAP TS-219P+ 2-Bay SATA NAS server
- QNAP TS-259 Pro 2-Bay SATA NAS server
- QNAP TS-659 Pro II 6-Bay SATA NAS server
- QNAP TS-419P II 4-bay SATA NAS Server