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QNAP TVS-863+ vNAS Server Review

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Full Volume Encryption Test Results

I repeated most of the testing protocol with a fully encrypted data volume. The size of the volume was unchanged, as was the RAID configuration. The SSD cache was enabled for all the benchmarks in this round of testing. This is the first time I’ve done a full set of benchmarks on an encrypted volume, primarily because I never saw it as a viable option for the units I had on the test bench. None of the NAS servers I’ve tested had a CPU that supported the Advanced Encryption Standard New Instructions (AES-NI), not even the QNAP TS-870U-RP or QNAP TS-879U-RP Turbo NAS servers that were designed for enterprise use. One had an i3-2120 and the other a Celeron G540, neither having support for AES-NI. I briefly flirted with encryption on a number of occasions, yes I admit it, but it was so slow that I quickly gave up and wrote it off as a loss. At the time, I noticed that all modern AMD CPUs did have support for AES-NI, and wondered why no one had taken advantage of that fact yet. Well, someone at QNAP must have noticed….

In case you’re wondering what the actual impact was on CPU load (and you should), this is the overall loading during one of the 10GB timed file transfer tests. Those tests, particularly the WRITE test tend to drive the CPU the hardest. Without encryption, the load was about 37%, so an increase to 55% seems very reasonable.

QNAP TVS-863+ Turbo vNAS Server Write-1GB-Encrypt-9000-10Gb

RAID 5 Basic File Transfer Test Results-Encrypted

The bottom line for any storage device is the combination of capacity and transfer speed. Since capacity is something that’s easy to define and measure, the real question for any NAS product is how fast will it Read and Write data. Benchmark Reviews measures NAS performance as the bandwidth achieved during a file transfer test. The first tests we perform utilize 1GB (1000 megabytes / 1,000,000,000 bytes) and 10GB files in timed transfers to and from the NAS. The chart below gives results for timed transfers, CrystalDiskMark and ATTO. We’ll discuss the latter two in a moment.

QNAP TVS-863+ Turbo vNAS Server Non-Trad-Encryption

Read and Write performance were very similar for the 1GB and 10GB files, with Read results in the 320-340MB/s range, and Write results in a slightly tighter range of 184-189 MB/s. Sure, this is way down on the 1,000 and 600 MB/s results that we achieved without encryption, but they still represent usable performance. NAS units without native CPU support for AES-NI don’t even come close to this level of performance, and were in my opinion, unusable in modern applications. So far, so good. Let’s take another look at performance, this time with a mixed load, in our next benchmark – CrystalDiskMark 3.0.

CrystalDiskMark Results-Encrypted

CrystalDiskMark 3.0 is a file transfer and operational bandwidth benchmark tool from Crystal Dew World that offers performance transfer speed results using sequential, 512KB random, and 4KB random samples. Benchmark Reviews uses CrystalDiskMark to illustrate operational IOPS performance with multiple threads. This benchmark allows us to determine operational bandwidth under heavy load.

QNAP TVS-863+ Turbo vNAS Server Crystal-Encrypt-02

The results in the chart above are an average of five runs, for the two sequential tests that are shown in the top two blocks of the results table. The average throughputs were 353 MB/s for Read and 229 MB/s for Write. Those are the two results we’ve been tracking to date, but I always keep a record of the random access results in the following three sets of blocks. All of the results for CrystalDiskBenchmark, using full volume encryption are closer to the non-encrypted results than for any of the other benchmarks. The encrypted results are at least 75% as fast as the non-encrypted ones, with performance getting closer and closer as the tests progress. Adding random access, and then reducing the file size, and then finally increasing the Queue depth to 32, all bring the encrypted performance closer to the unencrypted baseline. Depending on the type of data you need to manage, that could be significant benefit. Let’s take a look at a test suite that’s more indicative of sequential behavior, ATTO Disk Benchmark.

ATTO Disk Benchmark Results-Encrypted

The ATTO Disk Benchmark program measures interface transfer rates at various intervals for a user-specified length and then reports read and write speeds for these spot-tests. Please consider the results displayed by this benchmark to be basic bandwidth speed performance indicators.

QNAP TVS-863+ Turbo vNAS Server ATTO-Encrypt-03

The QNAP TVS-863+ turned in another good performance on ATTO with full volume encryption, reaching an average peak Read speed of 365 MB/s and an average peak Write speed of 296 MB/s. These results are in the very top tier of NAS performance, with full volume encryption. I honestly don’t know how or why AMD has been locked out of the NAS Server market for so long; this is such a compelling performance improvement over everything else available on the market that you have to shake your head and ask “Why?

Intel NASPT Benchmark Results-Encrypted

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.

QNAP TVS-863+ Turbo vNAS Server NASPT_Encryption

The video playback and file transfer tests take the biggest hit from full volume encryption in the NASPT benchmark. The bars with the smallest results were already smallish for the unencrypted test scenario, because they involve a lot of computational activity that doesn’t contribute to transfer speeds. That’s good news for those who are planning to take advantage of the virtualization capabilities that QNAP rolled out in the last year or so. Having four cores to work with is a real benefit of the AMD GX-424CC CPU that is standard here.

The bottom line for this entire section has to be that FINALLY someone has brought the capability to use full volume encryption down to earth, where it can be used by people without defense contractor-sized budgets. I have highlighted the general increase in performance that this new AMD-based architecture has brought, throughout this article. It also helps that this performance boost comes with a lower price tag, compared to similar units with Intel Inside. We’re used to this – performance increases, costs go down; it’s the natural order of things that compute. The ability to use encryption, with reasonable performance is a sea change, though. Its can v. can’t…. I’ll be waiting to see what impact this has on the NAS marketplace, but I can’t imagine that this newfound capability will go unanswered for long.

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