Elliott C. Back: Internet & Technology

Synology DS1511+ NAS Review

Posted in Computers & Technology, Hardware, NAS by Elliott Back on April 19th, 2011.

In this post, I’ll be reviewing a brand new Synology DiskStation DS1511+ NAS equipped with five Hitachi Deskstar 2TB 5K3000 drives configured in RAID5. For comparison, I’ve also written about the Gen 1 Drobo’s performance as a NAS before (it tops out around 20MB/s), and own two of them at home. While the Drobos allow you to build mix-and-match RAID arrays, they are slow, take forever to rebuild, noisy, and hot. I am hoping the DS1511+ will remedy all of these issues.


Read more about the DS1511+ specs here

Network Base Configuration

The Synology NAS is using default MTU of 1500, connected to a Gigabit Ethernet Switch on LAN2. Testing with iperf shows a good gigabit connection between my PC and the NAS of around 885Mb/s:

Big_Bug> iperf -s
————————————————————
Server listening on TCP port 5001
TCP window size: 85.3 KByte (default)
————————————————————
[ ID] Interval Transfer Bandwidth
[ 7] 0.0-20.0 sec 2.05 GBytes 882 Mbits/sec
[ 6] 0.0-30.0 sec 3.09 GBytes 885 Mbits/sec

In megabytes per second, we can transfer 110.625 MB/s. As you will see, this is actually slightly lower than the performance of the RAID array.

The Hard Drives

How fast are the triple-platter 2TB deskstar 5K3000s in RAID5? It can do a very reasonable 125 MB/s in unbuffered pure-disk performance:

Big_Bug> hdparm -t /dev/sda
Timing buffered disk reads: 374 MB in 3.01 seconds = 124.22 MB/sec

Benchmarking File Copy from Windows

To test how fast I can transfer from my PC to the NAS, I’ve created a 4GB binary file:

C:\Users\Elliott Bäck\Desktop>ls -l test.file
-rw-rw-rw- 1 Elliott Bäck 0 4693544330 2011-04-19 20:00 test.file

Copying this file in Windows 7’s explorer took just 50.5 seconds. Doing the math, this gives us an average write rate of 88.63 MB/s. How fast can we copy it back? It took 71.6 seconds, for an average read rate of 62.51 MB/s. Both of these number are going to be constrained by how fast my desktop PC’s Intel SSD can read/write. I also tested using Java and writing a RandomAccessFile with a ByteBuffer, which achieved 95MB/s write and 97MB/s read on a 1GB file.

Reliability & Temperature

You just need to open up the storage manager on the Synology DS1511+ NAS to see what a beauty it is, giving you a full SMART status readout on all your physical drives, as well as their temperatures. Even after running through my benchmarking, the drives were only 34° C warm:

Conclusions

At nearly $900 for the NAS itself without drives, it’s pricey. But plugged into a Gigabit ethernet, the DS1511+ from Synology is also fast, cool, and quiet; the three things you want most from a NAS. Featurewise, it has a glorious UI, media servers built in (which I don’t use) and expandibility from 5 to a maximum of 15 drives. I anticipate phasing out my Drobos, with their proprietary technology, for the Synology NAS, which runs on open-source plain-vanilla linux.

Apple’s iPad Tablet Sucks

Posted in Apple, iPad by Elliott Back on January 28th, 2010.

The big buzz of the day is Apple’s new iPad tablet PC. For $499 you get a 10″ version of the iPod touch, with apps that have been redesigned for the new screen real estate. “With a screen this large, you can just see, more, of the web as you’re surfing.” All the existing iPhone applications are promised to work out of the box. The more expensive versions come with support for 3G (data only) and come unlocked (yay). There’s one new built-in application, called iBook which let you purchase books from the libraries of 5 major american publishers (Penguin, Harper-Collins, Simon & Schuster, Macmillan and Hachette Book Group), in open ePub format. As the kindle DX sells for $489, if the screen brightness doesn’t hurt too much, it could be a potential competitor. The 10-hour battery life is certainly enough to read a book in.

Now, a list of things I don’t like (here is Gizmodo’s):

  • 1024×768 screen doesn’t do 1080p, wide-screen video
  • No Camera built-in (no video chat!)
  • No multitasking
  • No 3G voice service (or even T-Mobile 3G)
  • No Mac OS apps (you get the iPhone/iTouch OS)
  • Wasted space in the bezel
  • No Random House books
  • iWorks costs $30
  • Twice as expensive as an iTouch
  • No chat built-in
  • No SD card or USB ports
  • No GPS
  • No Adobe Flash

When you can go buy a svelte 13″ Macbook Pro for just $1200, or 33% more than the top-of-the line iPad, why would buy an iPad? If you already have an iPhone you won’t buy it, because in terms of strict functionality, the iPhone is a superset. If you have an iTouch you may agonize about getting that extra screen real-estate. A commenter on Slashdot summed it up best:

It’s more than just an iPod touch that won’t fit in your pocket…it’s also an underpowered netbook with no keyboard. It’s the worst of both worlds!

Oh wait, someone on Reddit too:

Just yesterday I was looking at my iPhone thinking “Hmmm, I wish this thing didn’t fit in my pocket and couldn’t make phone calls.” Then I looked over to my netbook and couldn’t help but feel it would benefit from losing the keyboard and being made of 50% glass.

Wait for version two. The price will drop. Then maybe it can be a sort of “upgrade my kindle” purchase.

Update: Check out Charlie Brooker’s iPad therefore iWant?.

Update 2: Just tried the iPad, not impressed. UI is sluggish, wifi at the Apple store cutting in and out, and the display is terrible! For reading, text is just too fuzzy, whereas the kindle is crystal clear. See What the iPad is Missing (No, it’s not a Camera) and Font Rendering: Respecting The Pixel Grid for some thoughts on why reading on the iPad isn’t the experience you hoped it would be.

iStockPhoto Offers Copyright Liability Insurance

Posted in Graphics, Law, Photo by Elliott Back on September 16th, 2009.

Stock photography wholesaler iStockPhoto has a new gimmick in its bid to provide the web with a source of affordable decoration: lawsuit immunity. That’s right, any stock photo you purchase will come with guaranteed protection of $10,000 against intellectual property disputes. So you can buy photos from iStockPhoto for $1-$27 per photo, use them according to the terms of use, and be protected from litigation:

iStock is about to offer a new “Legal Guarantee” on its entire collection. On Sept. 16, any video, image or audio file purchased and USED CORRECTLY by the customer, will automatically be guaranteed against any copyright or moral right, trademark and other intellectual property dispute, up to $10,000. Although common for traditional stock houses, a legal guarantee has not been standard in microstock because of the low prices.

Although these situations have always been extremely rare at iStock, if a client really needs added insurance, an Extended Legal Guarantee up to $250,000 in coverage can be purchased for 100 credits.

As the CNET article mentions, a credit will cost around $1-$1.50. The caveat here is that you must carefully follow the license terms, which are complex. For example, for use on the web, you are restricted to a maximum resolution of archaic 800×600 and in a single location (webpage). For items you wish to resell in any way, purchasing an extended license for 125-150 credits is necessary.

For more information, please see CrunchBase’s iStock Photo entry!

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