SMB 3.0 Evaluation and VM Performance Impact

QNAP's QTS 4.x is the only COTS NAS operating system that we are aware of with SMB 3.0 support. As a bit of a background, SMB 3.0 was introduced with Windows 8 and Windows Server 2012 as an update to the file-sharing protocol used in Windows systems. It brought in a number of changes including SMB Direct Protocol and SMB Multichannel. Security enhancements such as end-to-end encryption and a new AES-based signing algorithm also make it attractive for usage in business enviromnents.

QTS allows for setting of the maximum allowed SMB version. While SMB 3.0 shares turned out to be accessible even in Windows 7, enabling the SMB Encryption feature for a Samba share while setting up the shared folder rendered it inaccessible (except under Windows 8 and Windows Server 2012). For our evaluation, we created a Windows 8.1 VM in our NAS testbed and repeated our usual NASPT / robocopy benchmarks on a plain SMB 3.0 share and one on which SMB encryption was enabled. In addition, we also repeated the test with the Windows 8.1 VM on the TS-451 active and being loaded with our heavy Internet browsing workload. The graph below presents our observations.

QNAP TS-451 SMB 3.0 Performance

At the very outset, it is clear that enabling SMB encryption causes a huge hit in performance. It appears that the limitation is on the encryption rate, which seems to be topping out at 20 MBps. In the more interesting case of VM vs. non-VM, we find that, with the VM active, there is definitely a loss in performance. However, we doubt that it is much of an issue for even power users in home scenarios. Obviously, the penalty is much bigger for multi-client scenarios since the network ports can't be link-aggregated any more. That said, most home users don't even have routers supporting 802.3ad link aggregation. For such consumers, with the help of Virtualization Station, the second network port of the QNAP TS-451 can actually be put to better use (as a dedicated link for a VM / 'computer') than just a failover link for the NAS.

Virtualization Station on the TS-451 Miscellaneous Aspects and Concluding Remarks


View All Comments

  • npz - Monday, August 18, 2014 - link

    Thanks for the tests. The drop in performance running a VM is not bad at all and quite acceptable.

    But I am assuming that the linux/samba code to support SMB3 encryption does not yet make use of AES-NI
  • ganeshts - Monday, August 18, 2014 - link

    The Celeron J1800 doesn't have AES-NI capabilities. I am not sure if the code does take advantage of AES-NI in higher end boxes - Let me check with QNAP on that. Reply
  • deeceefar2 - Monday, August 18, 2014 - link

    Interestingly I'm actually using mine for both Power Users Application Scenarios: 1 & 3.

    I have a TS-460-pro and I upgraded the processor to
    Intel Core i7-3770S and the ram to 16 GB KVR16S11K2/16. I can't say enough great things about the QNAP boxes I've had. From a small business perspective it can do pretty much everything you might ask of it.
  • Marthisdil - Monday, August 18, 2014 - link

    Except be cheap - when you could build a "server" out of a desktop PC that can do a lot of the same stuff, for less money. Reply
  • deeceefar2 - Monday, August 18, 2014 - link

    I could, and have done that in the past. But for MUCH more time invested and with many more support head aches. I use at least 1/2 of all of the features of this box, and I challenge you to build a system that does that for significantly less money using similar power draw without spending months configuring and maintaining it. Reply
  • isa - Monday, August 18, 2014 - link

    A thoughtful article overall, so thank you Ganesh. I especially focused on the "power user application scenarios". I get #3 and #1, but #2 baffles me. Why must I run ubiquity's apps in a VM? Since that app comes in apple/win/linux flavors, can't one just download the appropriate version for one's NAS and run it without a VM? Why is a VM required to run Ubiquity or any other home automation app if it's offered in a version compatible with my NAS's OS? Reply
  • ganeshts - Monday, August 18, 2014 - link

    Does the NAS vendor provide support for unofficial packages? Most vendors I have talked to wash their hands off all warranties / support once you start messing around in SSH. To be frank, for the average user, it is quite easy to mess up the NAS installation (particularly when the extraneous package they want to install comes with a big train of dependencies). Reply
  • isa - Monday, August 18, 2014 - link

    Good points, and I agree. Reply
  • Oyster - Monday, August 18, 2014 - link

    Ganesh, awesome work. Thanks for listening to the feedback and covering these details. Very well done article.

    For your next, can you please cover a showdown between Synology and QNAP OSes (including features like apps, VPN, etc.)?
  • Arnok666 - Saturday, October 17, 2015 - link

    +1 Reply

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