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TS-h973AX - presales planning

Posted: Mon Apr 05, 2021 6:32 am
by luxo75
Hi there,

We're looking to upgrade our storage from a thunderbolt 2 Drobo 5D (with a QNAP TS-509 II NAS as backup), to a ZFS based NAS as the primary storage via a 10gbe connection.

Use cases:
  • 4k video editing on Davinci Resolve - so read heavy streaming workloads
  • Lightroom photo cataloging and editing - fairly large catalogue - medium sized random reads and writes
  • VFX compositing (Nuke, Natron) - medium sized random reads and writes
  • VFX 3d rendering (Blender, Houdini) - medium sized random reads and writes
  • Nextcloud synced backup for home dirs and other data - smaller sized random reads and writes
It's for a small home network which will have up to 5 machines rendering to the NAS. Initially 2 computers will be connected via 10gbe and the rest will be connected via 1gbe.

I'm interested in ZFS due to the reported fast version snapshots, fast compression, self-healing/bitrot protection, industry prooven read and write caching options.

The TS-h973AX appeals as it's a fairly sweet price-point compared to the feature set. The main downside I can see is the lack of upgradability.

But that said as long as it can be set up to reliably saturate the 10gbe network I think it should hopefully do the trick for the next 5 or so years.
I can see in the product blurb that it should be able to hit 1167Mb/s which is close to the 10gbe saturation point, using 2 Samgsung 850 500Gb ssd + 2 U.2 ssds.

My Questions are:
  • What is the minimum disk cache disk configuration needed to hit that performance? Given I will have 5 x 6Tb Ironwolf 7200 rpm SATA disks in a zraid1 - i.e one disk of redundancy
  • Which ssd is used for what cache? i.e in QNAPs example benchmark, are the Samsung 850s used in a mirrored raid1 for the ZIL and the U.2s used for the L2ARC or vise verse? I've also seen some opinions that you don't need to bother with ZIL caching?
  • I was thinking of using a single fast M.2 500gb for the read cache (L2ARC?) via a QDA-UMP U.2 converter. Would that surfice?
I would love to know anyone elses experiences with getting a performance 4k edit capable setup out of the TS-h973AX.

Many thanks in advance!

Re: TS-h973AX - presales planning

Posted: Tue Apr 06, 2021 5:26 am
by QNAPDanielFL
This unit can run either QuTS Hero or normal QTS.

If you want to use cache to increase sequential throughput then normal QTS has better cache performance.

If you use Hero, it has better HDD performance but not as good cache performance. So on Hero, you could choose to not use cache or set cache to random only. You should have an SSD pool of at least 250GB for the OS + apps. With just 5 HDDs, I don't expect it to fully saturate 10GbE. But I think Hero with 5 HDDs should still be enough throughput to edit 4K if you have the 32GB RAM version.

Hero needs more RAM than normal QTS for optimal performance.
If you only get 8GB RAM then you may do better with normal QTS. And then with normal QTS, 8GB of RAM lets you have up to 2TB of Cache. I would only recommend NVMe for cache. Not SATA.

Re: TS-h973AX - presales planning

Posted: Tue Apr 06, 2021 2:52 pm
by luxo75
Thanks Daniel,

I would be going for the 32gb RAM model.
Good to know that I should use one 250gb+ M.2 pool just for the OS and apps.

If I get 2 x M.2 (via QDA-UMP) in a mirror can I split that volume and use part of it for a L2ARC and the other part as OS + apps?

I think I'd want to keep the OS on a mirror for protection but just don't know if it's possible? I will be investing in a UPS to ensure there are no power cut issues.

When you say you don't expect it to saturate 10gbe - what are the real-world read and write speeds we can expect on 10gbe and what disk configurations do you suggest to get them?

Looking at the two threads on redit by AKMtnr it's a bit worrying but I can't tell if his problem was due to his 10gbe switch or tb3 dongle throttling the performance? But then he says a Synology was fast on 10gbe out of the box? ... _qnap_nas/ ... _tsh973ax/

I'm finding it hard to get real-world projections (or validations) of what read and write speed I can expect on a 10bge network?

I've speced out a home build that I could do using TrueNAS, but that's a complicated path and I'd rather get the support of QNAP if I can be sure the base unit will be fast enough.

Re: TS-h973AX - presales planning

Posted: Wed Apr 07, 2021 5:29 am
by QNAPDanielFL
If you have 5 HDDs RAID5 using QuTS Hero and 32GB RAM, I expect around 700MB/s throughput. That is somewhat of a guess. I have less customer feedback on the HDD performance of this unit than for some others. But based on the CPU that is my guess.

Re: TS-h973AX - presales planning

Posted: Wed Apr 07, 2021 5:34 am
by QNAPDanielFL
"If I get 2 x M.2 (via QDA-UMP) in a mirror can I split that volume and use part of it for a L2ARC and the other part as OS + apps?"
The Same SSDs can't be both a storage pool and cache.
QDA-UMP only holds 1 M.2 so you would need 2 of them to make a RAID1. And the QDA-U2MP is not supported in this model.

Re: TS-h973AX - presales planning

Posted: Wed Apr 07, 2021 7:54 am
by luxo75
Thanks for the info again,

Yes I would be getting two separate QDA-UMP. That's unfortunate that I can't have the OS on the mirrored M.2 ssds with the read cache at the same time.
Can I expose a separate network share on the same pool where the OS + apps reside? i.e a faster but smaller ssd-based SMB/NFS share?

Re: TS-h973AX - presales planning

Posted: Thu Apr 08, 2021 2:12 am
by Bob Zelin
Hi -
you are selecting the wrong QNAP. I do nothing but professional video editing systems with QNAP, and I have extensive experience with Davinci Resolve and the PostgreSQL database needed to do collaboration with Resolve. You should have a minimum of EIGHT 7200 RPM SATA drives running if you want a pleasant reliable experience with 4K and 6K media in Resolve for multiple systems. 5 drives is not enough. Especially for multiple users.

The TVS-h1288X is the smallest product I would recommend for your application. The retail price is $2499, and YES, you have to install all eight drives right now.
The TVS-h1288X will come with 10G Ethernet ports. You should connect this to a 10G switch like the QNAP QSW-M1208-8C, which is $599. You have 5 machines, and this is an 8 port switch, so it will serve your needs. For Win 10 PC's, you get the QNAP QXG-10G1T. 10G Ethernet NIC card. IF you have any thunderbolt 3 Mac's, get the QNAP QNA-T310G1T, which is a thunderbolt 3 to 10G adapter.

You need to install the operating system on 2 drives, in a RAID 1 configuration. This can be done on either the 2 M.2 SATA drives, or 2 of the 2 1/2" SSD drives. This will become storage pool 1, and your SATA RAID will become storage pool 2.

As for Lightroom - you cannot save an Adobe Lightroom Catalog on any network shared volume - QNAP or otherwise. You can save all your media for Lightroom (your photographs) on the QNAP, but not the Lightroom Catalog. Don't like this fact ? Blame Adobe - not QNAP.

You are not going to get 1100 MB/sec with only 5 drives. Get the TVS-h1288X. Once you use a ZFS based QNAP, you will want to throw those Drobo's in the garbage.

Re: TS-h973AX - presales planning

Posted: Thu Apr 08, 2021 7:47 pm
by luxo75
Hey Bob,

Thanks for your obviously very experience-honed reply. I appreciate it!
It certainly confirms a few suspicions I've had while researching this setup.

Your recomendation certainly adds weight to ZFS scaling quite well as you add more and more spinning disks, and but as with many reports, is less affected by ssd read or write caching for video streaming (at these lower disk numbers) - but certainly very positively affected by lots and lots of RAM.

Thanks for pointing me at the TVS-h1288X. It's a beautiful looking machine but unfortunately though that is a massive budget-hike going from around AUD $3,614.00 for the TS-h973AX fully populated to AUD $6,918.98 for the TVS-h1288X fully populated. I'm not sure I'm in a position to really jump that high at this stage.

I am hoping also to build a FreeNAS rig in a couple of months that will utilise the 10 x 3Tb Drives I will have left over from the Drobo and the old QNAP, and that machine should come in at just over AUD $2K (minus disks I already have) and would have dual 10gbe ports out of the mini-ITX motherboard, have a better Ryzen SoC CPU+GPU and 64Gb of ECC ram.
This machine would either become the backup server for the QNAP solution or become the primary server depending on how smoothly each system performed.
I should be able to afford to get this setup plus the TS-h973AX for less than the money for one fully populated TVS-h1288X.

But I suspect that the FreeNAS OS experience will not be as smooth an experience as QuTS. And it will be a huge amount more work to set up.

Regarding lightroom. Yeah no worries on that, I can understand where Adobe is coming from, they don't want to deal with the multiple connected machines to the same disk-based catalog problem (decentralised database race-conditons etc). They would need to swtich to a separate DB server-based workflow just like Davinici did with their speparate Postgres DB server for multiple editors.

I'd just keep the photos/videos on the NAS and the catalog on fast local M.2 storage and make sure the catalog was regularly backed up to the NAS.

One last question/confirmation:
- Can I create a network data share (SMB/NFS) from the same mirrored raid 1 M.2-based zpool where the OS and apps reside?

If so surely that could be able to saturate a 10gbe network if I got M.2 drives that did R:2400MB/s W:1800MB/s?

Re: TS-h973AX - presales planning

Posted: Fri Apr 09, 2021 2:39 am
by Bob Zelin
I certainly don't understand the currency exchange. $6918 AU for the TVS-h1288X. You said "fully populated". The empty TVS-h1288X is $2499 US retail price.
Drives cost what drives cost. I don't care if you get the QNAP for free - you ain't doing multi user 4K Resolve work without 8 drives in a single array. I don't care what brand NAS you purchase.

Yes - you can create a SMB share on the RAID 1 M.2 - but why would you do this. Do you keep media on the boot drive of your Mac or Win 10 PC's ? I don't see the point.

You don't need 2400 MB/sec for Resolve.

A 10G network will not give you anything greater than 1100 MB/sec. I don't care if you have all U.2 NVMe drives - with a 10G connection, you peak out at 1100 MB/sec.

Bob Zelin

Re: TS-h973AX - presales planning

Posted: Fri Apr 09, 2021 7:09 am
by luxo75
The disk-less TS-h973AX-32g is AUD $1909.98
The disk-less TVS-h1288X-16g is AUD $4618.98 (plus I would need 3 extra 7200rpm disks)

Australia (and pretty much most places in the world) are more expensive than the US for tech.

Good to know I can create a share from the OS drive! that kinda clinches it for me.

I can then keep current projects on that faster drive and then less frequently needed resources and backups on the spinning disk raid.

Understood about the 1100MB/s cap on 10gbe. Both those QNAP models have more than one NIC output so it should be possible to aggregate those links on a good switch to get more bandwidth across other computers if needed.

The fast R/W on the M.2s will help the OS + app operations and any VMs that I choose to run on the box.

Thanks again