Introduction and Setup Impressions

Netgear launched the 6-bay ReadyNAS 716 10-GbE desktop NAS in November. To our knowledge, this is the first off-the-shelf NAS in a desktop tower form factor to come with built-in support for 10GBase-T. With an Intel Xeon CPU under the hood, the unit packs quite a punch within a small form factor. 10-GbE solutions have remained in realm of rackmount units so far, but, Netgear, along with QNAP (in its TS-x70 series), aims to bring them to desktop form factors also. While the QNAP TS-x70's 10-GbE capabilities are optional (the end user has to change the PCIe add-on card for that purpose), the ReadyNAS 716 comes with a two-port 10GBase-T NIC installed.

Netgear's storage lineup has been in a bit of flux over the last few years. While the x86-based versions have been quite stable, their SOHO / home consumer lineup had to shift from SPARC-based units to ARM-based ones. We covered the reboot of the ReadyNAS OS for ARM-based units in the review of the ReadyNAS NV+ v2. Despite Netgear's promise to work on adding features and making the new ReadyNAS OS better to use, here we are, two years later, looking at yet another reboot of the ReadyNAS OS. The reboot aims to unify the product features across both ARM and x86-based units. We already reviewed the ReadyNAS 312, which happens to be the entry-level x86-based NAS in Netgear's 2013 lineup. The ReadyNAS 716 (RN716X) is Netgear's flagship in the 2013 desktop form factor category. Based on the Intel Xeon E3-1265L processor, the unit runs the completely revamped ReadyNAS OS 6.

In terms of redesign, ReadyNAS OS 6.0 is the most ambitious yet. Unlike other NAS vendors who opt for the safety of the proven EXT3 / EXT4 file system for internal volumes, Netgear has opted for the cutting-edge BTRFS. The benefits of BTRFS over EXT3 / EXT4 are numerous. These include checksumming for integrity, in-built snapshotting mechanisms, continuous defragmentation, online data compression, scrubbing with error correction and built-in storage pools which make a separate LVM unnecessary. Compared to ZFS, the memory requirements are more manageable, but, deduplication support in ZFS is much better. However, there is an impression amongst some IT folks that btrfs is not stable enough for deployment in production environments. Netgear indicates that btrfs is part of Oracle's production kernel and, currently, the same code and kernel are being used in ReadyNAS OS 6.x.

The specifications of the RN716X are provided below:

Netgear ReadyNAS 716 (RN716x) Specifications
Processor Intel Xeon E3-1265L V2 (4C/8T, 2.5 GHz)
RAM 16 GB DDR3 ECC RAM
Drive Bays 6x 3.5"/2.5" SATA 6 Gbps HDD
Network Links 2x 1 GbE + 2x 10GBase-T (via add-on PCIe card)
USB Slots 1x USB 2.0 + 2x USB 3.0
eSATA Ports 3x (compatible for expansion with EDA500)
Maximum Capacity 6-bays + 15-bays via three EDA500 units for a total of 21 bays
VGA / Console / HDMI HDMI out
Full Specifications Link Netgear RN716X Specifications (PDF)
Suggested Retail Pricing US $3000

The ReadyNAS 716 runs a Linux kernel (v3.0.93). Other interesting aspects of the system can be gathered after obtaining SSH access to the unit.

The RN716X has an in-built 200W PSU. While enterprise rackmount units with similar platforms have redundant PSUs, the form factor of the RN716X precludes that feature. The motherboard has two native GbE ports, while the 10GBase-T ports are provided by an add-on PCIe card. After connection to the network, the unit could be discovered by RAIDar (offline discovery tool that has been around since the first generation ReadyNAS units). In addition, Netgear has also incorporated cloud discovery using the ReadyCLOUD service. I had faced issues in trying to start out with previously used disks while evaluating the RN312, but the issue was not much of a problem with the RN716X. The front panel has a LCM display as well as a touch-sensitive interface to navigate the options on the display.

We have already touched upon the various features of ReadyNAS 0S 6.x in our ReadyNAS 312 review. The snapshotting mechanism used by Netgear is quite advantageous in the market segment that the RN716X targets. The only surprise in our setup process was the fact that the Flex-RAID configuration (allowing users to manually control the RAID level) didn't allow for RAID-1 to RAID-5 migration when adding a third disk to an already existing two-disk volume. However, switching to X-RAID enabled this option without data loss. The volume could be converted back to Flex-RAID after completion of the migration.

In the rest of the review, we will cover the testbed setup and testing methodology, putting focus on our updates to enable testing 10GBase-T equipment. This is followed by benchmarks in single and multi-client modes. For single client scenarios, we have both Windows and Linux benchmarks with CIFS and NFS shares. We will also have some performance numbers with encryption enabled. In the final section, power consumption numbers as well as RAID rebuild times will be covered along with some closing notes.

Testbed Setup and Testing Methodology
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  • hoboville - Thursday, January 2, 2014 - link

    I hate sounding like a naysayer, but these boxes are so expensive. You can build a system with similar specs for much less under FreeNAS and ZFS (as other commentators have noted). Supermicro makes some great boards, and with the number of case options you get when DIY, expandability is very much an option if you need it further down the road. Then again, alot of the cost comes from 10 gbit NICs which cost a lot. Reply
  • lazn_ - Thursday, January 2, 2014 - link

    One thing I would like to see in all your NAS reviews is any "Branch Office" replication features and how well they work as compared to DFS on a Windows box. (over VPN etc) Reply
  • xbrit - Thursday, January 2, 2014 - link

    Synology DS3612xs isn't even mentioned as a comparable product here??

    12 bays for $3000, plus the extra $350 or so to install an Intel X540-T1 10GbE NIC.

    I have a DS3612xs, fully populated with 3TB drives in RAID-6. Direct-connected to a desktop PC because 10GbE switches are not ready for the home office market yet.

    Has been utterly reliable for >1 year. For large file transfers (typically a few 10's of GB of media files), I routinely get 700-900 MB/s writing to the NAS and 400MB/s reading from it.

    (The SSD's on the desktop PC are 2x SATA-3 in RAID-0. They are the limiting factor when reading from the NAS because each disk can only support about 200MB/s sustained sequential write... typical for current high-end SSD's.)
    Reply
  • centosfan - Saturday, January 18, 2014 - link

    I am thinking about buying one of these Ds3612xs for a mission critical production environment to host a number of VMware virtual machines. What kind of IOPs are you getting? Are you running the SSD read cache and does it help? Thanks! Reply
  • klassobanieras - Sunday, January 12, 2014 - link

    Any chance of actually testing the error detection / correction and redundancy features? What happens if you yank the power cord during a metadata write? What if you flip a bunch of bits on a drive?
    These are primary selling points of these devices, and have the potential to massively impact buyers, so it'd be really useful to know this kind of thing.
    Reply

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