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Synology Disk Station DS408 Review

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The Intel NAS Performance Toolkit is a set of tools used to test and analyze file systems and enable direct comparison of the performance levels of different network attached storage devices. It utilizes a set of tests based on real world applications such as HD video playback and record, office productivity, photo album manipulation and file and directory copying. The toolkit uses a set of traces based on these applications and mimics the file system traffic generated and records the system response. In our evaluation, the toolkit was run in batch mode which runs the series of tests five times in succession and the median throughput value used to report the results. The hard drives were reconfigured and the DS408 was rebooted before each test was run. The RAID 0 array was created with four drives and the RAID 1 array contained 2 drives.




HD Video Playback (higher is better)

The HD Video Playback series of tests involve streaming a 720p HD video file using Windows Media Player and 256kb reads. The tests play either 1, 2 or 4 files simultaneously using different percentages of sequential reads (99.5% for the single file, 18.1% for the 2x HD Video Playback and 9.6% for the 4x HD Video Playback).






2x HD Video Playback (higher is better)



4x HD Video Playback (higher is better)



The DS408 seems made to stream video as it turns in its best results, breaking the 50MB/s barrier in the playback tests for the RAID 0 and RAID 5 setups. These tests play to the strengths of RAID 0 in reading data, but it is important to note that a RAID 5 setup can offer similar, if slightly lower speeds with the added protection from hard drive failure you don't get with RAID 0.

HD Video Record (higher is better)

This test writes a single 720p HD video file to the NAS device employing 99.9% sequential 256kb writes.



Recording a video caused throughput to drop below 40GB/s for RAID 0 and to the 26-36 MB/s range for the other configurations which is to be expected when writing files across the network. The write penalty is most evident in the RAID 5 and RAID 6 configurations due to the performance hit required in calculating and writing the parity data to the array.

HD Playback and Record  (higher is better)

The HD Video Playback and Record test combines the two previous tests and reads and writes a HD 720p video file simultaneously.



The DS408 still maintains decent throughput from 21-46 MB/s while simultaneously playing and recording a video. RAID 0 showed a performance boost, mainly due to the increased throughput as we saw on the playback tests. The write penalty associated with the other forms of RAID also becomes apparent. I would have expected the RAID 5 setup to do a little better here, although it did get a slight boost when enabling jumbo frames.

Content Creation  (higher is better)

This test simulates content creation on the NAS device such as might occur when rendering a video. There are 99 files used and is composed of 95% write operations with up to 64kb block sizes and consists of 39.1% sequential operations.



The content creation test starts to tax the DS408 with its large number of write operations. RAID 1 pulls ahead of the RAID 5/RAID 6 arrays since it doesn't have the burden of parity calculations.

Office Productivity  (higher is better)

The Office Productivity test is roughly evenly distributed between read and write operations using 607 small files consisting of 1kb and 4kb reads and mostly 1kb writes.



This test is where things start to get messy. With a large number of files and a heavy mix of read and write operations, the DS408 struggles, even with its 512MB of memory to buffer the write requests.

File Copy to NAS  (higher is better)

The File Copy test copies a single large file to the NAS unit using 100% sequential 64kb write operations.



Copying a single large file (1.4GB) brings us back to more normal performance numbers in the 26-37MB/s range with RAID 0 again taking the lead. Enabling jumbo frames provided a slight boost across the board, except for the RAID 0 configuration where it actually hindered performance.

File Copy From NAS

This test reads the single large (1.4GB) file from the File Copy test from the NAS using 64kb read operations.



Copying a single large file (1.4GB) brings us back to more normal performance numbers in the 26-37MB/s range with RAID 0 again taking the lead. Enabling jumbo frames provided a slight boost across the board, except for the RAID 0 configuration where it actually hindered performance.

Dir Copy to NAS  (higher is better)

This test copies a directory structure with 126 files to the NAS device using predominately 64kb writes but also includes a wide distribution under 16kb.



Reading the same single file back in the opposite direction we see the benefit of RAID 0 on performance. It also seems having more drives in the array helps as well for the multi-drive arrays.

Dir Copy From NAS  (higher is better)

This test copies the same directory structure of 126 files from the NAS device using 64kb reads.



Copying the test directory back to the host shows consistent performance across all setups with RAID 0 once again in the front of the pack.

Photo Album  (higher is better)

The Photo Album test simulates the viewing of 169 photo files of various sizes stored on the NAS and consists of 100% read operations.



Here we see the tightest performance grouping across all setups as the test does a series of reads of various sized photo files.

Some general observation we can make here show that RAID 0 doesn't offer a compelling benefit over RAID 5 in the majority of the tests. In my mind, the added risk of data loss from a hard drive failure using RAID 0 isn't justified when you have the option of using a RAID 5 array. I'd be willing give up the extra disk space for the increased level of protection. I also think it becomes apparent that enabling jumbo frames on the DS408 can't be justified as it doesn't offer enough of an advantage, and even hurts performance in some cases.

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