Thecus' N8800PRO Eight-Bay Storage Server
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.