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

Over the previous few years, the developments within the industrial off-the-shelf (COTS) network-attached storage (NAS) market have largely been on the software program entrance – bringing in additional business-oriented worth additions and higher help for containers and digital machines. Now we have had {hardware} updates when it comes to processor decisions 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 value speaking about to get an thought of the place the COTS NAS market is headed in direction of within the close to future.

Hybrid Processors

Community-Hooked up storage items have usually been based mostly on both server platforms within the SMB / SME house or single-board laptop (SBC) platforms within the house client / SOHO house. Historically, each platforms have eschewed huge.LITTLE / hybrid processors for quite a lot of causes. Within the x86 house, we noticed hybrid processors getting into the mainstream market lately with Intel’s Alder Lake household. Within the ARM world, huge.LITTLE has been round for a comparatively longer time. Nevertheless, server workloads are usually unsuitable for that kind of structure. With out a 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 a variety of software 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 isn’t any stranger to advertising 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 develop into highly effective sufficient to maneuver above and past their primary file serving / backup goal performance. The QTS functions curated by QNAP assist in offering well-integrated worth additions. A number 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 range, 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 Sensible Search (for occasion looking in surveillance movies), and QuMagie (for simply listed picture albums with ‘AI’ performance).

E1.S Scorching-Swappable SSDs

QNAP’s first NASbook – an all-flash NAS utilizing M.2 SSDs – was launched into the market final yr. The TBS-464 stays a singular product available in the market, 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 trade normal 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 trade was consolidating in direction of E1.S and E1.L as normal 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). With the intention to enhance drive compatibility, QNAP can even be bundling M.2 adapters connected to every drive bay. This may 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 consists of 16GB of DDR4 RAM. Reminiscence enlargement help will not be clear as but (It’s probably that these are DDR4 SO-DIMMs). There are 5 drive bays, and the NAS appears to be working QTS based mostly on QNAP’s mannequin naming). The NASbook additionally sports activities 2.5 GbE and 10 GbE ports, two USB4 ports (probably 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 concentrating on collaborative video enhancing 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, for the reason that SoC natively presents solely as much as 3 SATA ports. So, QNAP is both utilizing a port multiplier or a separate SATA controller related to the PCIe lanes for this objective. 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 certain 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). Total, the {hardware} is sort of attention-grabbing when it comes to how QNAP will be capable to handle efficiency expectations with the SoC’s capabilities. With a deal with surveillance deployments and cloud storage integration, the efficiency could also be adequate even with port multipliers.

Concluding Remarks

Total, 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 facet.