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Synology has its DS412+ and Thecus has its N4800. Both are four-bay NAS servers equipped with Intel’s Atom D2700 processor. But does Intel's latest low-power platform help these appliances outperform their predecessors, which were armed with Atom D525?
A little over two years ago, the first NAS servers employing Intel’s dual-core Atom processors started showing up with the then-modern D510. Our impressions at the time were very positive. Qnap's TS-459 Pro and Thecus' N4200 showed that the third-generation Atoms could serve as a strong foundation for network-attached appliances, beating the common Marvell Kirkwood mv6281 ARM and Freescale MPC8533 (PPC architecture) processors when it came to network data transfer speeds.
We weren’t as excited when Intel's Atom D510 gave way to the company's Atom D525. Our review of Qnap’s TS-559 Pro (Atom D510) and TS-559 Pro+ (Atom D525) showed that the newer version offered barely any data transfer speed advantages.
Technology marched on though, and Intel introduced new Atom processors based on the Cedarview platform at the end of 2011. These were manufactured on a 32 nm node, whereas the older Pineview-based CPUs were etched using 45 nm lithography. Maximum TDP went from Pineview’s 13 W to Cedarview’s 10 W. The Atom N2600, N2800, and D2700 all included GMA 3650 integrated graphics engines.
Intel's Atom D2700 processor, in particular, became popular with network storage vendors both because of its speed at 2.13 GHz and ability to exploit the integrated graphics for HDMI output. Of course, whether or not there’s really a need for a NAS server able to put a picture directly onto your television is something you'd need to decide for yourself. Cedarview-based processors do employ DDR3 memory controllers, though, whereas the Atom D525 could use either DDR2 or DDR3.
The current crop of network-attached appliances, like those from Synology and Thecus, are completely transitioning over from Intel’s Atom D525 to its D2700. Interestingly, though, the company is phasing out the Atom D2700, while its D525 is still available. Go figure.
Naturally, we wanted to know how much impact switching from Intel’s Atom D525 to its Atom D2700 actually makes on storage performance. We're benchmarking Synology’s DiskStation DS412+ and Thecus’ N4800, looking at their data transfer speeds and respective features as well.