QNAP Brings Hybrid Processors and E1.S SSD Help to the NAS Market

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Over the previous couple of years, the developments within the business off-the-shelf (COTS) network-attached storage (NAS) market have principally been on the software program entrance – bringing in additional business-oriented worth additions and higher help for containers and digital machines. We’ve got had {hardware} updates when it comes to processor selections and inclusion of M.2 SSD slots (primarily for SSD caching), however they haven’t been revolutionary adjustments.

At CES 2023, QNAP revealed plans for 2 totally different NAS items – the all-flash TBS-574X (based mostly on the Intel Alder Lake-P platform), and the ML-focused TS-AI642 (based mostly on the Rockchip RK3588 app processor). Whereas QNAP solely offered a teaser of the capabilities, there are a few factors price speaking about to get an concept of the place the COTS NAS market is headed in direction of within the close to future.

Hybrid Processors

Community-Connected storage items have sometimes been based mostly on both server platforms within the SMB / SME area or single-board pc (SBC) platforms within the residence shopper / SOHO area. Historically, each platforms have eschewed large.LITTLE / hybrid processors for quite a lot of causes. Within the x86 area, we noticed hybrid processors coming into the mainstream market just lately with Intel’s Alder Lake household. Within the ARM world, large.LITTLE has been round for a comparatively longer time. Nevertheless, server workloads are sometimes unsuitable for that kind of structure. With no credible use-case for such processors, additionally it is unlikely that servers will go that route. Nevertheless, SBCs are a distinct case, and now we have seen quite a few utility processors adopting the massive.LITTLE technique getting utilized in that market phase.

Each the all-flash TBS-574X and the AI NAS TS-AI642 are based mostly on hybrid processors. The TBS-574X makes use of the Intel Core i3-1220P (Alder Lake-P) in a 2P + 8E configuration. The TS-AI642 relies on the Rockchip RK3588 [ PDF ], with 4x Cortex-A76 and 4x Cortex-A55 fabricated in Samsung’s 8LPP course of.

QNAP is not any stranger to advertising and marketing Atom-based NAS items with 2.5 GbE help – their current Jasper Lake-based tower NAS line-up has proved extraordinarily well-liked for SOHO / SMB use-cases. The Gracemont cores within the Core i3-1220P are going to be a step-up in efficiency, and the addition of two efficiency cores can simply assist with consumer expertise associated to options extra amenable to be used of their Core-based items.

NAS items have turn out to be highly effective sufficient to maneuver above and past their fundamental file serving / backup goal performance. The QTS purposes curated by QNAP assist in offering well-integrated worth additions. A few of the hottest ones allow container help in addition to the flexibility to run digital machines. Because the vary of workloads run on the NAS concurrently begin to fluctuate, hybrid processors can pitch in to enhance efficiency whereas sustaining energy effectivity.

On the AI NAS entrance, the Rockchip RK3588 has processor cores highly effective sufficient for a multi-bay NAS. Nevertheless, QNAP is placing extra deal with the neural community accelerator blocks (the SoC has 6 TOPS of NN inference efficiency), permitting the NAS to be marketed to heavy customers of their surveillance and ‘AI’ apps equivalent to QVR Face (for face recognition in surveillance movies), QVR Smart Search (for occasion looking in surveillance movies), and QuMagie (for simply listed picture albums with ‘AI’ performance).

E1.S Sizzling-Swappable SSDs

QNAP’s first NASbook – an all-flash NAS utilizing M.2 SSDs – was launched into the market final 12 months. The TBS-464 stays a novel product out there, however goes in opposition to the NAS idea of hot-swappable drives.

QNAP’s First-Technology NASbook – the TBS-464

On the time of its introduction, there was no business commonplace for hot-swappable NVMe flash drives appropriate for the NASbook’s form-factor. U.2 and U.3 drive slots with hot-swapping capabilities did exist in rackmount items meant for enterprises and datacenters. So, QNAP’s NASbook was launched with out hot-swapping help. In the meantime, the business was consolidating in direction of E1.S and E1.L as standard form-factors for hot-swappable NVMe storage.

(L to R) E1.S 5.9mm (courtesy of SMART Modular Programs); E1.S Symmetric Enclosure (courtesy of Intel); E1.S (courtesy of KIOXIA)

QNAP’s 2023 NASbook – the TBS-574X – would be the first QNAP NAS to help E1.S hot-swappable SSDs (as much as 15mm in thickness). In an effort to enhance drive compatibility, QNAP will even be bundling M.2 adapters hooked up to every drive bay. It will permit end-users to make use of M.2 SSDs within the NASbook whereas market availability of E1.S SSDs expands.

Specs Abstract

The TBS-574X makes use of the Intel Core i3-1220P (2P + 8E – 10C/12T) and contains 16GB of DDR4 RAM. Reminiscence enlargement help shouldn’t be clear as but (It’s doubtless that these are DDR4 SO-DIMMs). There are 5 drive bays, and the NAS appears to be operating QTS based mostly on QNAP’s mannequin naming). The NASbook additionally sports activities 2.5 GbE and 10 GbE ports, two USB4 ports (doubtless Thunderbolt 4 sans certification, as QNAP claims 40 Gbps help, and ADL-P helps it natively), and 4K HDMI output. The NASbook additionally helps video transcoding with the built-in GPU within the Core i3-1220P. QNAP is primarily focusing on collaborative video modifying use-cases with the TBS-574X.

The TS-AI642 makes use of the RockChip RK3588 (4x CA-76 + 4x CA-55) app processor. The RAM specs weren’t offered – SoC specs point out LPDDR4, however now we have reached out to QNAP for the precise quantity . There are six drive bays. That is once more attention-grabbing, because the SoC natively presents solely as much as 3 SATA ports. So, QNAP is both utilizing a port multiplier or a separate SATA controller linked to the PCIe lanes for this goal. The SoC’s native community help is restricted to twin GbE ports, however QNAP is together with 2.5 GbE in addition to a PCIe Gen 3 slot for 10 GbE enlargement. These are additionally sure to take up the restricted variety of PCIe lanes within the processor (which is 4x PCIe 3.0, configurable as 1 x4, or 2 x2, or 4 x1). General, the {hardware} is sort of attention-grabbing when it comes to how QNAP will have the ability to handle efficiency expectations with the SoC’s capabilities. With a deal with surveillance deployments and cloud storage integration, the efficiency could also be ok even with port multipliers.

Concluding Remarks

General, QNAP’s teaser of their two upcoming desktop NAS merchandise has offered us with insights into the place the NAS marketplace for SOHOs / SMBs is headed within the close to future. QNAP has by no means shied away from exploring new {hardware} choices, in contrast to Synology, QSAN, Terramaster, and the like. Whereas we’re very bullish on E1.S help and hybrid processors in desktop NAS items, the enchantment of the RockChip-based AI NAS could rely closely on its value to capabilities / efficiency side.

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