Setup Impressions and Platform Analysis

The setup process for the file server included assembling the hardware as well as installing the operating system and configuring the shares. The install process on the motherboard side was quite simple - the ASRock Rack C2750D4I (already reviewed by Ian last year) is not a socketed motherboard and the SoC as well as the heat sink come pre-installed. I won't go too much into the motherboard itself, as it has been already covered in detail in our review. The gallery below presents some photos of the motherboard during the setup process.

We decided to use the U-NAS NSC-800 for our build. The U-NAS NSC-800 comes with eight drive bays in front of a hot-swappable back-plane (both SAS and SATA ones are available, and our chassis came equipped with the latter) and a compact size that can accommodate a mini-ITX motherboard. There are three internal 2.5" drive bays (which can be used for SSD cache drives) and / or for OS drives). There is space for a 1U power supply. There are two 120mm chassis fans just behind the drive bays. The drive sleds can accommodate both 3.5" and 2.5" disks, and the overall construction feels solid.

Compatible PSUs can be ordered from U-NAS itself. The 1U PSU that came bundled with our chassis was the 400W ASPOWER U1A-C20400-D. The PSU carries a 80 PLUS GOLD rating. It must be noted that the 5V and 3.3V outputs should not be subject to a load of more than 150W.

Pretty much the only downside of the chassis for a modern build is the absence of a front USB 3.0 port, but, given that the ASRock Rack C2750D4I doesn't have a USB 3.0 header, this is a non-issue in our build. The chassis comes with the cables from the backplane neatly laid out to enable easy connection to the motherboard. The challenge in assembling the build was actually routing all the wires from the PSU to the motherboard connectors while keeping it managed enough to place the chassis cover unhindered. Despite being a very compact 8-bay unit, the chassis supports a single slot PCIe card. The ASRock Rack C2750D4I does have a spare PCIe slot, and we populated it with an Intel ESA I340-T4 just for the purpose of the build (not used in the benchmarking). The gallery below presents some photographs taken during our assembly process.

The ASRock Rack C2750D4I platform has already been extensively analyzed in our dedicated review. However, I will reproduce the SoC diagram and how the motherboard components are laid out below.

It is important to have an idea of the platform during the assembly of the NAS. Instead of just choosing eight ports at random to connect the backplane to, the layout analysis allows us to select the proper ports. The configuration mentioned in the table in the previous page ensures that the Avoton SoC can talk to the drives of the system with maximum possible bandwidth.

Introduction and Testing Methodology Performance Metrics - Phoronix Test Suite
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  • xicaque - Monday, November 23, 2015 - link

    Can you elaborate on redundant power supplies? Please? What is their purpose? Reply
  • nxsfan - Tuesday, August 11, 2015 - link

    I have the ASRack C2750d4i + Silverstone DS380, with 8x3.5" HDDs and one SSD (& 16GB ECC). Your CPU and MB temps seem high, particularly when (if I understand correctly) you populated the U-NAS with SSDs.

    If lm-sensors is correct my CPU cores idle around 25 C and under peak load get to 50 C. My MB sits around 41 C. My HDDs range from ~50 C (TOSHIBA MD04ACA500) to ~37 C (WDC WD40EFRX). "Peak" (logged in the last month) power consumption (obtained from the UPS - so includes a 24 port switch) was 60 W. Idle is 41 W.

    The hardware itself is great. I virtualize with KVM and the hardware handles multiple VMs plus multiple realtime 1080p H.264 transcodes with aplomb (VC-1 not so much). File transfers saturate my gigabit network, but I am not a power user (i.e. typically only 2-3 active clients).
    Reply
  • bill.rookard - Tuesday, August 11, 2015 - link

    I really like this unit. Compact. Flexible. Well thought out. Best of all, -affordable-. Putting together a budget media server just became much easier. Now to just find a good itx based mobo with enough SATA ports to handle the 8 bays... Reply
  • KateH - Tuesday, August 11, 2015 - link

    Another good turnkey solution from ASRock, but I still think they missed a golden opportunity by not making an "ASRack" brand for their NAS units ;) Reply
  • e1jones - Wednesday, August 12, 2015 - link

    Would be great for a Xeon D-15*0 board, but most of the ones I've seen so far only have 6 sata ports. A little more horsepower to virtualize and run CPU intensive programs. Reply
  • akula2 - Monday, August 17, 2015 - link

    >A file server can be used for multiple purposes, unlike a dedicated NAS.

    Well, I paused reading right there! What does that mean? You should improve on that sentence; it could be quite confusing to novice members who aspire to buy/build storage systems.

    Next, I don't use Windows on any Servers. I never recommend that OS to anyone either, especially when the data is sensitive be it from business or personal perspective.

    I use couple of NAS Servers based on OpenIndiana (Solaris based) and BSD OSes. ZFS can be great if one understands its design goals and philosophy.

    I don't use FreeNAS or NAS boxes such as from Synology et al. I build the Hardware from the scratch to have greater choice and cost saving factors. Currently, I'm in Alpha stage building a large NAS Server (200+ TB) based on ZoL (ZFS on Linux). It will take at least two more months of effort to integrate to my company networks; few hundreds of associates based in three nations work more closely to augment efficiency and productivity.

    Yeah, few more things to share:

    1) Whatever I plan I look at Power consumption factor (green), especially high gulping ones such as Servers, Workstations, Hydrib Cluster, NAS Server etc. Hence, I allocate more funds to address the Power demand by deploying Solar solutions wherever it is viable in order to save some good money in the long run.
    2) I mostly go for Hitachi SAS drives and SATA III about 20% (Enterprise segment).
    3) ECC memory is mandatory. No compromise on this one to save some dough.
    4) Moved away from Cloud service providers by building by private cloud (NAS based) to protect my employee privacy. All employee data should remain in the respective nations. Period.
    Reply
  • GuizmoPhil - Friday, August 21, 2015 - link

    I built a new server using their 4 bay model (NSC-400) last year. extremely sastisfied.

    Here's the pictures: https://picasaweb.google.com/117887570503925809876...

    Below the specs:

    CPU: Intel Core i3-4130T
    CPU cooler: Thermolab ITX30 (not shown on the pictures, was upgraded after)
    MOBO: ASUS H87i-PLUS
    RAM: Crucial Ballistix Tactical Low Profile 1.35V XMP 8-8-8-24 (1x4GB)
    SSD: Intel 320 series 80GB SATA 2.5"
    HDD: 4x HGST 4TB CoolSpin 3.5"
    FAN: Gelid 120mm sleeve silent fan (came with the unit)
    PSU: Seasonic SS-350M1U
    CASE: U-NAS NSC-400
    OS: LinuxMint 17.1 x64 (basically ubuntu 14.04 lts, but hassle-free)
    Reply
  • Iozone_guy - Wednesday, September 2, 2015 - link

    I'm struggling to understand the test configuration. There seems to be a disconnect in the results. Almost all of the results have an average latency that is looking like a physical spindle, but yet the storage is all SSDs. How can the latency be so high ? Was there some problem with the setup, such that it wasn't measuring the SSD storage but something else ? Could the tester post the sfs_rc file and the sfslog.* and sfsc*.log files ? So we can try to sort out what happened ? Reply

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