Introduction and Testbed Setup

Seagate recently rebooted their NAS offerings, completely revamping their 2013 Business Storage lineup and dropping the old software platform altogether. In its place, they adopted the Debian-based NAS OS, development of which was started by LaCie prior to their acquisition by Seagate. In their 2014 lineup, Seagate has two classes of products, the NAS and the NAS Pro. While the former is suitable for workgroups of 1 to 25 clients, the Pro version pushes that up to 50.

Home consumers and power users form a a rapidly growing market, signified by the wealth of features that Synology and QNAP are bringing to the table in their firmware / product line to target it. Knowing fully well that it takes time to tune the firmware to reach that market, Seagate has wisely decided to concentrate on the SOHO / SMB segment, which is also experiencing similar growth levels. In that segment, purchase decision-makers tend to prefer a single point of contact for the system as a whole, and this works to Seagate's advantage as a hard disk supplier.

The NAS lineup is based on the Marvell ARMADA 370, while the NAS Pro is based on the Intel Rangeley platform. The unit we are looking at today is the NAS 4-Bay. Low cost and power efficiency are some of the positives for ARM-based solutions. With drive capacities on the increase, we have seen users move to 4-bay NAS units in order to take advantage of RAID-10 (despite the loss of effective storage space). This helps to avoid (to a certain extent) risk-prone rebuilds associated with RAID-5 arrays. We have already evaluated multiple ARM-based 4-bay solutions before. So, it will be quite interesting to see how the Seagate NAS 4-bay performs against those.

The STCU100 NAS 4-bay's Marvell ARMADA 370 is no stranger to our labs. We have already seen it in action in the Western Digital My Cloud EX2, albeit in a 2-bay unit. The ARMADA 370 has a single ARMv7 core running at 1.2 GHz, and its appeal is further strengthened by an optimal mix of high-speed I/Os hanging off the SoC. The other specifications of the NAS 4-bay are provided in the table below.

Seagate STCU100 NAS 4-bay Specifications
Processor Marvell ARMADA 370 (1x ARMv7 Core @ 1.2 GHz)
RAM 512 MB DDR3 RAM
Drive Bays 4x 3.5"/2.5" SATA 6 Gbps HDD / SSD (Hot-Swappable)
Network Links 2x 1 GbE
External I/O Peripherals 2x USB 3.0
Expansion Slots None
VGA / Display Out None
Full Specifications Link Seagate NAS 4-bay Specifications
Price $300 (suggested) / $360 (Amazon)

The NAS 4-bay runs Linux (kernel version 3.10.37). Other aspects of the platform can be gleaned by accessing the unit over SSH.

Testbed Setup and Testing Methodology

The Seagate NAS 4-bay can take up to four drives. Users can opt for either JBOD, RAID 0, RAID 1, RAID 5, RAID 6 or RAID 10 configurations. We benchmarked the unit in RAID 5 with four Western Digital WD4000FYYZ RE drives as the test disks. Our testbed configuration is outlined below.

AnandTech NAS Testbed Configuration
Motherboard Asus Z9PE-D8 WS Dual LGA2011 SSI-EEB
CPU 2 x Intel Xeon E5-2630L
Coolers 2 x Dynatron R17
Memory G.Skill RipjawsZ F3-12800CL10Q2-64GBZL (8x8GB) CAS 10-10-10-30
OS Drive OCZ Technology Vertex 4 128GB
Secondary Drive OCZ Technology Vertex 4 128GB
Tertiary Drive OCZ Z-Drive R4 CM88 (1.6TB PCIe SSD)
Other Drives 12 x OCZ Technology Vertex 4 64GB (Offline in the Host OS)
Network Cards 6 x Intel ESA I-340 Quad-GbE Port Network Adapter
Chassis SilverStoneTek Raven RV03
PSU SilverStoneTek Strider Plus Gold Evolution 850W
OS Windows Server 2008 R2
Network Switch Netgear ProSafe GSM7352S-200

Thank You!

We thank the following companies for helping us out with our NAS testbed:

Hardware Platform & Setup Impressions
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  • MadMan007 - Thursday, July 24, 2014 - link

    Whoa, you mean a motherboard that costs more than this entire NAS performs better? SHOCKING! Reply
  • JeffFlanagan - Thursday, July 24, 2014 - link

    Thanks Ganesh and others who commented on the cooling. Reply
  • harshw - Thursday, July 24, 2014 - link

    Ganesh, I can attest to the fact that LaCie's fan design on their 5Big boxes for example - isn't really good for thermals. Like I commented earlier, I had a LaCie 5Big NAS Pro consistently overheat here in California where the ambient room temps can easily rise to 80F. I replaced the 120mm Noctua with a 150mm Thermaltake and also cut out the fan grill. It worked but the LaCie RAID config was already broken and no amount of recovery would help. Reply
  • ganeshts - Thursday, July 24, 2014 - link

    That is disappointing to hear. I have the 5big Pro running without issues, but I have it perched on a shelf open on all four sides (basically a garage rack converted to hold stuff) where there is plenty of air-flow. One issue with the 5big box is that you have to make sure the underside is pretty clear (air intake is through that).

    That said, I do have more confidence in the NAS 4-bay, as the air is being pulled in through the front side of the unit. But, then, again, the NAS 4-bay doesn't have a metal body, so some heat loss through conduction will be missed.
    Reply
  • beginner99 - Friday, July 25, 2014 - link

    With these huge RAID-Rebuild times greatly increasing the risk of a second drive failure, wouldn't it make sense to add a dedicated chip that speeds this up? This would even help during normal operation? Reply
  • Zan Lynx - Friday, July 25, 2014 - link

    As far as I know, no current hardware is limited by the CPU when doing RAID rebuild. It is always the amount of time that it takes to read and write so many terabytes of data.

    Now maybe if the drive bays were fitted with SSDs it would be a problem.
    Reply
  • jabber - Friday, July 25, 2014 - link

    From looking at recent tests and from my own kit at home it really looks like you need around 500MHz of ARM CPU power per 20-22MBps of data pumped down the cable. Reply
  • Zan Lynx - Friday, July 25, 2014 - link

    Maybe the NAS builders should start using AMD Bobcat. My little home server built on a E-350 can fill a gigabit Ethernet link. Reply
  • wintermute000 - Sunday, July 27, 2014 - link

    I agree. heck even Bill us the cost difference, what 50 more or whatever for a real cpu like a celeron Reply

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