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Thecus' N8800PRO Eight-Bay Storage Server

Open-E's DSS V6: Storage Software Set Up, Managed, And Benchmarked
By , Marcel Binder

Thecus claims that its N8800PRO is an enterprise-grade NAS device. It's driven by a 1.66 GHz Intel Core 2 Duo CPU and 4 GB of DDR2 memory. The motherboard is the same one found in Thecus' N7700, in case you're familiar with that appliance. Two gigabit Ethernet ports are exposed through a factory-installed PCI Express-based add-in board, and an optional 10 Gb card can be plugged into an available PCIe x8 slot. The rack-mountable N8800PRO is 2U high and features two power supplies for redundancy. Its firmware is stored on two DOM (disk on module) devices, also for redundancy. Our test unit from a German integrator included DOMs with the Open-E software, which replaced Thecus' default modules.

You can install as many as eight 3.5” 66 Gb/s SATA drives into the N8800PRO. The drives are attached to caddies with screws, and the caddies can be hot-swapped. RAID levels 0, 1, 5, 6, and 10 are all supported. Moreover, operation as an iSCSI target is supported right out of the box.

Dig a little deeper into the hardware and you see that four pairs of two disks correspond to a quartet of SiL3132 PCIe x1 to two-port SATA 3Gb/s controllers. This means you don't get hardware-accelerated RAID support. Rather, the Core 2 Duo shoulders the processing load of software-based RAID.

Technically, you're able to daisy-chain as many as eight JBOD enclosures using the N8800PRO's single eSATA port. Although that'd give you a theoretical 72-disk ceiling (and, factoring in the 3 TB models already on Thecus' compatibility list, a 216 GB capacity limit), the performance limitations of that many disks communicating through a single 3 Gb/s port should be pretty clear...and potentially debilitating.

The appliance's eight drive bays are arranged as such: three on the left, two in the middle, and three on the right. Instead of giving you a ninth bay, that space is occupied by an LCD read-out that conveys the server's IP address and subnet mask, plus system status.

In addition to its integrated gigabit Ethernet jacks, the N8800 features an RS-232 port for communication with a UPS and two USB 2.0 ports for attaching external hard disks and other peripherals, such as printers.

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  • 2 Hide
    dgingeri , March 10, 2012 8:03 PM
    I manage about 1200 servers for a software test lab of 9 departments. I work with many different types and generations of hardware. I can tell you from experience, I would absolutely HATE this machine, no matter how fast it performs. No console? Only network communication? Horrible idea. I've been dealing with a few NetApp units that were set up this way. They are a major HEADACHE to manage. If the information on the IP address for this machine were lost, it would be almost impossible to get it to work again. There are admins out there (like my predecessor at my current job) who don't do much for documentation. Small businesses typically don't even have their own admins, so imagine a business switching admin companies because of pricing debates, and a new guy comes in after a drive failure. Basically, he's have to tell them their nice storage system is useless because he has no idea how to get into it to tell it to rebuild to a new drive. They'd have to replace the whole thing.

    For the hardware price, I'd go for a Dell R510. it's about the same price. Then I'd run CentOS 5 or 6 on it. CentOS can do most of what this thing can do with no cost. Or the business could opt for Win 2k8 r2 for $600 more or MS SBS for $800 more and get an easier to manage system that any yahoo proclaiming to be an admin could fix.
  • 0 Hide
    Argo16 , March 11, 2012 10:28 AM
    I totally agree with dgingeri and I would add that most of these products do not meet the quality standards required by business-class storage. They are substantially poorly built oversized SOHO appliances. I doubt that the DESY project and many health care providers are using this kind of storage.
  • 0 Hide
    Anonymous , March 11, 2012 4:04 PM
    Why did not you include 5 drive test together with 8 drive test? How could we know it's Open-E being a TOTAL LOSER or it's just comparing apples (8 drives) to oranges (5 drives)?
  • 0 Hide
    peter_b123 , March 12, 2012 12:01 AM
    I can tell TH that I use Open-E DSS v6 in some production envorionments for my SMB users and I've been very satisfied with its performance, configuration and support. Don't let one bad review fool you. I consistently get over 250MB/s with DSS systems that I've built myself.
  • -1 Hide
    peter_b123 , March 12, 2012 12:02 AM
    I can tell TH that I use Open-E DSS v6 in some production envorionments for my SMB users and I've been very satisfied with its performance, configuration and support. Don't let one bad review fool you. I consistently get over 250MB/s with DSS systems that I've built myself.
  • -1 Hide
    peter_b123 , March 12, 2012 12:02 AM
    I can tell TH that I use Open-E DSS v6 in some production envorionments for my SMB users and I've been very satisfied with its performance, configuration and support. Don't let one bad review fool you. I consistently get over 250MB/s with DSS systems that I've built myself.
  • 0 Hide
    Anonymous , March 12, 2012 11:05 AM
    So what do we get for $1600? No drives? OK... Crappy case with non-working tiny LCD and a 2 year old desktop mobo with ancient CPU? Fine... And a crappy software from near dead Open-E? How lovely! This money can buy you HP or IBM or Dell server with Xeon CPU (probably with 2 socket option), tons of RAM, option for SAS and 8 drive bays. Go install OpenIndiana on it with Napp-it and ZFS thing is going to run circles around Open-E based old boy for just a fraction of cost! Good luck Thecus!!!
  • -1 Hide
    TheKurrgan , March 12, 2012 1:30 PM
    I've never been a fan of these types of devices...
    IOP performance is garbage on SATA drives, and I've seen FreeNAS do a better job than what was portrayed in this article.
    As far as the performance, I'd say it was right in line with low end devices using iSCSI.
    Any iSCSI devices you can pretty much count the 1GB ethernet link as the bottle neck, which puts it around 100 - 125 max. 2x Multi pathing may bring that up to around 190, but good luck achieving usable transfer rates of 250+ as peter claims.
    For the money i'd choose dgingeri's dell in a heart beat.
  • 0 Hide
    cozsmin , March 18, 2012 10:55 AM
    I had once openfiller on a vmware

    Al changes , done to the storage , were done in some xml files of the application

    Needles to say that whenever you did anything in command line , the web apllication would not recognize the result
  • 1 Hide
    Slothy , March 19, 2012 4:25 PM
    While the impression was already there that Tom's IT is just one big advertising centre, it seems there is a slider for Tom's Hardware reviews. The closer you get to IT and away from their core of consumer-grade hardware/software articles, the more the articles become an obvious marketing release and the less useful they become.

    That said, keep up the good work in your core space Tom's!