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

Over the previous couple of years, the developments within the business 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. We have now had {hardware} updates by way of 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 completely different NAS models – the all-flash TBS-574X (primarily based on the Intel Alder Lake-P platform), and the ML-focused TS-AI642 (primarily based 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 the direction of within the close to future.

Hybrid Processors

Community-Connected storage models have usually been primarily based on both server platforms within the SMB / SME house or single-board pc (SBC) platforms within the dwelling client / SOHO house. Historically, each platforms have eschewed huge.LITTLE / hybrid processors for a wide range of causes. Within the x86 house, we noticed hybrid processors getting into the mainstream market not too long ago 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 sort 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 we’ve seen various 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 primarily based 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 is predicated 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 models with 2.5 GbE help – their current Jasper Lake-based tower NAS line-up has proved extraordinarily standard 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 person expertise associated to options extra amenable to be used of their Core-based models.

NAS models 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. Among the hottest ones allow container help in addition to the power 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 corresponding to QVR Face (for face recognition in surveillance movies), QVR Smart Search (for occasion looking out in surveillance movies), and QuMagie (for simply listed photograph 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 towards 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 customary 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 models meant for enterprises and datacenters. So, QNAP’s NASbook was launched with out hot-swapping help. In the meantime, the business was consolidating in the 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). To be able to improve drive compatibility, QNAP can even be bundling M.2 adapters connected to every drive bay. This may enable 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 growth help is just not clear as but (It’s probably that these are DDR4 SO-DIMMs). There are 5 drive bays, and the NAS appears to be operating QTS primarily based 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 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 we’ve reached out to QNAP for the precise quantity . There are six drive bays. That is once more fascinating, because the SoC natively gives 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 function. 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 growth. 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). Total, the {hardware} is kind of fascinating by way of how QNAP will be capable of 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 models, the attraction of the RockChip-based AI NAS might rely closely on its worth to capabilities / efficiency side.

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