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Seagate Ironwolf 525 NAS NVMe SSD Revealed

20 septembre 2021 à 15:25

Seagate PCIe Gen 4 NVMe for NAS on its Way – The Ironwolf 525 SSD

Continuing their reputation for bringing new media releases to the market before everyone else, Seagate seemingly has a PCIe Gen 4.0 NVMe SSD in the pipeline for NAS/SAN server use in their Ironwolf series, known as the Seagate Ironwolf 525. Although little is publically know about this new SSD, the Ironwolf 525 has already begun to appear on numerous stock management and distribution sites in Europe, so this seems to indicate a likely release before the end of 2021. Seagate was one of the first brands in storage media to introduce a server dedicated class of SSDs for home and prosumer users (with a U.2/SAS series already in place for enterprise in their Nytro series of course) in both SATA and NVMe m.2, however even in this early leak of information, a few unique or interesting details have already emerged. So, let’s go through everything that we know so far and whether the Seagate Ironwolf 525 SSD will deserve your cache* later in 2021/2022

Seagate Firecuda 530 PCIe 4.0 NVMe SSD Review Here https://nascompares.com/2021/08/09/seagate-firecuda-530-ssd-review-the-score-to-beat

*I’ll get my coat…..

Click to view slideshow.

The Seagate Ironwolf 525 SSD – What Do We Know?

As mentioned, details on specifications of the Seagate Ironwolf 525 NVMe SSD are remarkably thin on the ground. Clearly, release and a formal reveal should not be too far ahead, as even a casual search online reveals that a number of European sites are listing the drive:

As it stands, there are no official datasheets for the Seagate Ironwolf 525 SSD available, but a lot of the specifications that ARE available (across all listing sites), as well as going by the Seagate model ID naming convention used in the Ironwolf 510 and Firecuda seemingly indicate the following:

  • Seagate Ironwolf 525 NVMe SSD
  • Available in 500GB, 1TB and 2TB Capacity
  • PCIe Gen 4.0 x4 Architecture
  • NVMe 1.3 (TBC)
  • 2280 M.2
  • 3D TLC NAND (96L or 176L TBC)
  • 0.98/1.0 DWPD (TBC)
  • 850/1800/3600 TBW (TBC)
  • 1.8M Hours MTBF (TBC)
  • 5 years Warranty
  • Rescue Data Recovery Services (2/3yrs TBC)

Of course, these should be taken with a huge grain of salt until a formal release is made, but even tentatively, compared against the Seagate Ironwolf 510 Gen 3 SSD, the Ironwolf 525 is much more comparable to the Firecuda 520 in architecture and almost certainly will feature the Pison E16 controller. A VERY important factor to keep in mind right now is that in Autumn 2021, there are very, VERY few PCIe Gen 4.0 equipped servers (and practically zero M.2 PCIe 4×4 equipped systems). PCIe Gen 4 upgrade cards are very gradually appearing, but this seemingly looks like it will be a much later winter 2021/2022 hardware change from the big names in NAS, SAN and custom servers. Therefore, as appealing as the Seagate Ironwolf 525 PCIe Gen 4×4 SSD sounds right now, it is worth remembering that very few server systems will be able to fully unlock its potential and if you are considering the Ironwolf 525 for a NAS/Server released before Summer 2021, then you would likely be better off opting for the current Seagate Ironwolf 510 NAS SSD which is PCIe Gen 3×4 and has incredibly high durability taken into account.

The Seagate Ironwolf 525 SSD – Price & Availability

Details regarding when this drive will be available to buy are incredibly thin on the ground. As mentioned, the low number of PCIe Gen 4.0 server systems, the continued high suitability of the Ironwolf 510 and the storage media market that is only starting to bounce back from over a year of shortages (at least!) all add up to the Seagate Ironwolf 525 not being a drive that needs to arrive in a hurry! The current PCIe Gen 4.0 favourite SSD, the Seagate Firecuda 530 and 520 still continue to support the existing PCIe4 client market in desktop and laptop forms, but for NAS (and indeed all server types) this switch is still very much ‘in progress’. Prices however seem to be a little clearer, with individual distributions sites appearing to agree on the pricing for each capacity at the moment of 500GB being €104 (€125 inc.TAX) 1TB at €173 (€208 inc.TAX) and 2TB arriving at €359 (€430 inc.TAX). Of course, these prices are subject to change, but do serve as an early guide on the pricing of the Seagate Ironwolf 525 and how that price sits with the Ironwolf 510 and Firecuda 520 that are currently available. We will keep an eye on this and update you on the Ironwolf 525 as we learn more, so stay subscribed! If you want to learn more about Seagate NVMe SSDs and how each drive in their current portfolio compares, have a look at the guide below:

Guide to Seagate SSDs HERE – 

 

Need Advice on Data Storage from an Expert?

We want to keep the free advice on NASCompares FREE for as long as we can. Since this service started back in Jan '18, We have helped hundreds of users every month solve their storage woes, but we can only continue to do this with your support. So please do use links to Amazon Amazon UK on the articles when buying to provide advert revenue support or to donate/support the site below. Finally, for free advice about your setup, just leave a message in the comments below here at NASCompares.com and we will get back to you. Need Help? Where possible (and where appropriate) please provide as much information about your requirements, as then I can arrange the best answer and solution to your needs. Do not worry about your e-mail address being required, it will NOT be used in a mailing list and will NOT be used in any way other than to respond to your enquiry. [contact-form-7] Terms and Conditions Alternatively, why not ask me on the ASK NASCompares forum, by clicking the button below. This is a community hub that serves as a place that I can answer your question, chew the fat, share new release information and even get corrections posted. I will always get around to answering ALL queries, but as a one-man operation, I cannot promise speed! So by sharing your query in the ASK NASCompares section below, you can get a better range of solutions and suggestions, alongside my own.  

 

SSD Caching On A NAS? What Is It and Should You Use It?

17 septembre 2021 à 01:17

Should you bother with SSD cache in on a NAS?

Most modern generation network attached storage NAS drives include the option of utilising SSD cache, which promises to improve file access and general system performance in a number of ways. Is by no means a new concept and has existed in one shape or form for more than a decade in modern server utilisation. However, in order to take advantage of SSD caching on your NAS, there are a number of hurdles that will often increase the price point of your ideal solution and potentially lower the capacity that you can take advantage of long-term. This leads many users into wondering whether SSD caching is anywhere near as beneficial as brands like Synology and QNAP would have you believe. So today I want to discuss what SSD caching is, who can benefit from it, who definitely won’t and hopefully help you decide whether you should consider SSD caching on your NAS.

What is SSD caching on a NAS?

The majority of NAS systems are comprised of multiple hard drives supported in a single enclosure that are combined together in efforts to increase capacity, performance and redundancy in a configuration commonly known as RAID (Redundant Array of Independent Disks). The more hard drives you have, the larger and more advantageous the RAID configurations you can create. However, these only marginally increase the performance available to you, multiplying performance on hard drives by a factor of the total number of hard drives. Ultimately, you are still using hard drives for your file system which will always pale in comparison to the performance available via solid-state drives SSD but this group of HDDs will result in higher throughput than any single hard drive. The obvious alternative of course is to replace all of the hard drives in your NAS with SSD and therefore reap the benefit of both SSD performance and RAID combination advantages. However, in practice, the main reason that no one does this is that the price point of SSD is significantly higher than hard drives and although the performance benefits would be greatly increased, the price would rise 5-10x times higher at least and the total available capacity would be significantly reduced – as general commercial and SMB SSDs currently max out at 4TB capacity, rather than the 18/20TB available in modern hard drives. NAS/Servers being fully populated with SSDs is still done though on less common setups which are highly enterprise and more commonly known as flash servers – fast but fantastically expensive!

RECOMMENDED SSDs FOR SSD Caching
SATA SSD HOME NVMe SSD BUSINESS SATA SSD BUSINESS
WD RED SA500

Available in SATA 2.5″ and mSATA

Affordable and Large Capacity Options

NAS Optimized

SEAGATE IRONWOLF 510

VERY High Durability of 1.0 DWPD

Data Recovery Services Included

Read Caching Optimized

SEAGATE IRONWOLF 110

Very High Durability

SSD Over Provisioning Ready

Data Recovery Services Included

SSD caching was designed as a hybrid storage media solution to this dilemma and involves pairing a small percentage of SSD storage space together with a larger area of hard drive storage space. Typically recommended at around 10% SSD to 90% hard drive, the NAS system will gradually learn over time which files on the total storage system are the ones being accessed most frequently. These files can range from tiny system files, indexes, thumbnails, directories and minor background data, all the way through to larger files that are in shared drives between multiple users, OS-related files that live on a central server and website files that are constantly being referenced for your domain (depending on the I/O configuration of your SSD cache). As the system constantly learns which files are the ones being constantly accessed, copies of these files are made on the area of SSD cache and in future when these files are requested by connected hardware clients, these faster-accessing copies will be targeted instead. Although this is a large oversimplification of the process, it is generally accurate. Not to be confused with tiered storage, which moves commonly accessed files to areas of SSD (not making a copy in 2 locations), SSD cache has numerous advantages and disadvantages that many users would do well to learn before embracing this storage media process. Let’s discuss this a little further, as there are multiple types of SSD cache options available from most modern brands.

Image Credit: techtarget.com

What is Read SSD Caching on a NAS?

The easiest but least beneficial type of SSD cache for a mass is read-only cache. This can be implemented with even a single SSD and much like the description above, involves the system moving copies of the most frequently accessed data onto the SSD. Read-only SSD cache on a NAS prevents editing or modifying of files that are being accessed on the area of the cache. Read-only cache is only of benefit to users who are accessing larger databases of preset data that is not often modified and although improves access to these more common files, limits the overall benefits of SSD caching in most NAS systems long term. Also known/referred to as Write-around SSD caching, this too writes data to the primary storage first instead of to the cache. This gives the SSD cache time to analyze data requests and identify the most frequently and recently used data. The SSD cache efficiently caches high priority data requests without flooding the cache with infrequently accessed data

What is Write Caching on a NAS?

Write Caching on a NAS can actually be broken down into two types. The first, Write-through SSD caching, writes simultaneously to the SSD cache area and to primary storage. The cache enables faster data retrieval, while the primary storage writes safely retains the data even if a system interruption affects the cache (eg a power failure). Write-through SSD caching does not require additional data protection for the cached data (so you can use one or more SSD in a Single/RAID 0 Config), but does increase write latency (i.e write time). The alternative is Write-back SSD caching, which writes ONLY to the SSD area first, then confirms that a block is written to the SSD cache, and the data is available for usage before writing the block to the main storage RAID array of HDDs afterwards. The method has lower latency than write-through, but if the cache loses data (i.e. critical system failure, power loss, etc) before the data writes to primary storage, that data is lost. Typical data protection solutions for write-back SSD caching are redundant SSDs or mirroring (i.e. MASSIVELY recommended or enforced that SSDs in a Write Through config are in a RAID 1/5 at the very least).

The application and customization of SSD caching in modern NAS software are incredibly diverse and in most cases, you can create a very bespoke SSD caching config for your system that integrates one or more caching read/write methods taht are best suited to your system setup, data types and access routines. So, now you know what SSD caching is and the types that most commonly exist, what are the advantages and disadvantages?

Guide to Seagate SSDs Guide to WD SSDs

What Are The Advantages of SSD Caching on a NAS?

The benefits of SSD caching on a NAS are often tough to measure, as the resulting improvements are the culmination of multiple smaller improvements at once. So the benefits are more often FELT than actually seen, as latency will be reduced throughout the overall access of the data on your NAS. Compressed data like thumbnails, indexing information and system reference files that a NAS will refer to in a given process will be turned around much quicker in the background and therefore will reduce wait times on instructions given by you to the NAS. Typically larger databases in scale rather than individual file volume will reap the most benefits, and therefore the advantages of SSD caching on a NAS are:

  • Faster Access to Larger databases made up for many smaller files
  • More cost-effective than an all-SSD system
  • Write-Cache/Write-Through Caching benefits more traditional one-way activity
  • Cache is largely self-managed, so once set up, will choose/drop important cached data on its own
  • The bulk of Porsume/SMB and higher NAS hardware arrive with dedicated SSD Cache bays, so no loss of traditional storage bays
  • SSD caching is becoming increasingly available on ARM-powered devices

What Are The Disadvantages of SSD Caching on a NAS?

It is very important to understand that SSD caching is not some kind of magic wand that will suddenly make your NAS significantly faster. Indeed, SSD caching will be of little to no use to the majority of home and prosumer users on a smaller scale, as larger files will rarely be moved to areas of cache and most home users will use a NAS predominantly for multimedia use, large-scale backups and surveillance in home or office environments. Not only do these processes use significantly less frequently accessed data (more likely resulting in the CREATION of new data) but as they are often more ad-hoc in nature, aside from some early write-caching, the benefits of SSD caching will be all but useless to you. Then there is the added cost, added system overhead resource use and more. Here are the main disadvantages of SSD caching on a NAS:

  • Increases Costs of your Storage Setup
  • Not all NAS M.2 NVMe SSD bays are the same bandwidth, some are capped to 1000-2000MB/s, bottlenecking some SSDs
  • Cache Data benefits are HEAVILY dependant on storage user type/files
  • Some Cache methods (i.e Write-Back) store data in the cache, THEN move to the system as it is written and susceptible to loss in the event of a power failure

M.2 SSD Vs SATA SSD Caching on a NAS?

As mentioned in the introduction to today’s article on SSD caching, the majority of NAS drives in the market right now support SSD caching. However, though many have adopted NVMe M2 SSD bays to allow users dedicated ports to do this, many other more affordable or smaller scale NAS hardware systems (2-Bays, ARM CPU devices, etc) still require the end-user to occupy existing traditional hard drive media bays for SSD media for caching instead. Obviously, this can be a significant disadvantage to your overall total maximum capacity when losing main storage bays to smaller capacity SSD for caching. But is there any difference in performance benefits by opting for significantly faster M2 NVMe PCIe SSDs for caching over traditional SATA SSD? Well yes and no. The data stored on the SSD cache has the potential to be delivered to the NAS physical interfaces at whatever maximum speed the SSD can output, so NVMe SSD will always technically push that data faster. Likewise, as the library of cached data and metadata is compiled in the system’s usage, its creation will be markedly faster on the NVMes than SATA SSD which is going to be advantageous to numerous types of write-caching. However, if you are only utilising one or more gigabit ethernet connections, then the difference felt by the end-users when read-write caching is applied between either SSD media type will be practically unnoticeable. Therefore the noticeable differences between SATA SSD and M2 NVMe SSD caching only really apply to use us who take advantage of a larger external network interface or are running larger database operations inside the NAS architecture, containers and virtual machines. 

RECOMMENDED SSDs FOR SSD Caching
SATA SSD HOME NVMe SSD BUSINESS SATA SSD BUSINESS
WD RED SA500

Available in SATA 2.5″ and mSATA

Affordable and Large Capacity Options

NAS Optimized

SEAGATE IRONWOLF 510

VERY High Durability of 1.0 DWPD

Data Recovery Services Included

Read Caching Optimized

SEAGATE IRONWOLF 110

Very High Durability

SSD Over Provisioning Ready

Data Recovery Services Included

It is also worth remembering that despite many NAS systems releasing with NVMe SSD bays, their architecture might not have sufficient PCIe lanes on the CPU and assigned chipset to allow maximum NVMe SSD performance. In short, not all NVMe slots are created equal and although you may purchase a 3000-4000MB per second SSD for your NAS and its caching, don’t be surprised if that PCIe m.2 physical revision caps your performance much lower (I strip-down of the hardware inside most home/prosumer NAS systems like the DS920+, TS-473A or Lockerstor 4 will show that the M.2 NVMe slots inside can only reach 1000-2000MB/s at most as they are PCIe 2×2, PCIe 2×4 or PCIe 3×2. In short, NVMe SSD slots for caching are a good thing and can certainly provide better performance over SATA SSD in a number of ways, just be aware that sometimes the way you use it or the hardware of the NAS itself will potentially limit this.

 

Need Advice on Data Storage from an Expert?

We want to keep the free advice on NASCompares FREE for as long as we can. Since this service started back in Jan '18, We have helped hundreds of users every month solve their storage woes, but we can only continue to do this with your support. So please do use links to Amazon Amazon UK on the articles when buying to provide advert revenue support or to donate/support the site below. Finally, for free advice about your setup, just leave a message in the comments below here at NASCompares.com and we will get back to you. Need Help? Where possible (and where appropriate) please provide as much information about your requirements, as then I can arrange the best answer and solution to your needs. Do not worry about your e-mail address being required, it will NOT be used in a mailing list and will NOT be used in any way other than to respond to your enquiry. [contact-form-7] Terms and Conditions Alternatively, why not ask me on the ASK NASCompares forum, by clicking the button below. This is a community hub that serves as a place that I can answer your question, chew the fat, share new release information and even get corrections posted. I will always get around to answering ALL queries, but as a one-man operation, I cannot promise speed! So by sharing your query in the ASK NASCompares section below, you can get a better range of solutions and suggestions, alongside my own.  

 

Synology Upgrade Cards Guide – 10G, NVMe, 25Gbe and More

14 juin 2021 à 16:00

A Guide to Synology PCIe Upgrade Cards

There comes a point in the lifespan of most Synology NAS drives, big or small, that the performance, bandwidth and general throughput that the device is capable of hit a bit of a glass ceiling. Perhaps it is those rather restrictive 1Gbe ports in 2021, hardware features like M.2 slots of more modern systems that are sadly missing from your own older release or simply that your own external network hardware environment has scaled up noticeable and your Synology NAS is now a bottleneck? Sometimes replacing the NAS with a newer model is the only answer, but sometimes the operational lifespan of your NAS can be noticeably extended by installing a PCIe Upgrade card. Synology NAS for Prosumer/SMB users and above (typically 5-Bay upwards) have included PCIe upgrade slots for many generations previously and the range of Synology Add on cards available have grown to meet demand. So today I want to go through the current range of cards, which what each type can do, what it cannot do and help you choose the right PCIe Upgrade Card for your Synology NAS Server.

Important – An upgrade card in your Synology NAS does not AUTOMATICALLY mean you will achieve the maximum reported speed/performance (i.e installing a 10Gbe PCIe Upgrade Card does not immediately make your data externally accessible at 1,000MB/s. Upgrades, ranging from network interface improvements to internal SSD performance cards, will only provide you with the BANDWIDTH the achieve that speed, you will still need high-performance media and/or multiple media drives in a RAID to fulfil this bandwidth. So, in water simple terms, the majority of cards will increase the WIDTH or the pipe, but you still need to make sure you provide enough water and pressure to go through it!

Additionally, sometimes you are best served to increase the memory on your Synology NAS in order to get better performance on key applications and services. Use my Synology NAS Memory Upgrade Guide to help choose the right Synology or Unofficial Memory for your needs.

Synology Copper 10Gbe Upgrade Cards

Likely the first Synology Upgrade card that you looked at and certainly one that is favoured by users who are scaling up from a small home/business/shop solution and into something with noticeably higher bandwidth, 10Gbe network cards are becoming increasingly affordable. There are two main versions of 10G on the market, fiber optic-based (know as SFP+ and we will touch on that later) and copper-based (typically known in tech as 10GBASE-T). Most users who are scaling up from 1Gbe for the first time will opt for copper-based 10Gbe on their Synology NAS, as it uses near-identical cables to the typical RJ45 found in all their other kit (the only small difference being that in order to use 10Gbe at longer distances, you should use a Cat 6 cable, whereas most 1Gbe devices arrive with Cat 5/5e – looks IDENTICAL and will still work regardless, it’s just a latency thing). Synology has released several versions of 10Gbe copper cards over the years, refreshing the range every few years to ensure the best controllers are used and supported by the newer NAS systems. Synology has two different dedicated 10GBASE-T PCIe upgrade cards in the E10G18-T1 and E10G18-T2, which are 1 port and 2 port respectively. Both are PCIe Gen 3 x4 and x8 respectively (but will still work on PCIe Gen 2 x2 slots and above without a bottleneck (pre-2017 series devices). Additionally, like all the cards in the Synology PCIe Upgrade Guide today, drivers for these cards are already included in the Synology DSM software.

Currently Available 10GBASE-T 10Gbe Cards

E10G18-T1 1-PORT CARD – $163 E10G18-T2 2-PORT CARD – $309

Pros & Cons of Synology 10Gbe Upgrade Cards

  • Supported on pretty much ALL Synology NAS with a PCIe Slot since 2010/2011 series
  • Auto-Negotiation Enabled (so will scale to 1G-2.5G-5G in line with clients
  • Dedicated onboard Aquantia Controller
  • 5 Year Warranty is first class at this level
  • Quite Expensive for 1/2 Port 10G Card in 2021/2022
  • FS series:FS6400, FS3600, FS3400, FS3017, FS2017, FS1018
  • SA series:SA3600, SA3400, SA3200D
  • UC series:UC3200
  • 21 series:RS4021xs+, RS3621xs+, RS3621RPxs, RS2821RP+, RS2421RP+, RS2421+, RS1221RP+, RS1221+, DS1821+, DS1621xs+, DS1621+
  • 20 series:RS820RP+, RS820+
  • 19 series:RS1619xs+, RS1219+, DS2419+, DS1819+
  • 18 series:RS3618xs, RS2818RP+, RS2418RP+, RS2418+, RS818RP+, RS818+, DS3018xs, DS1618+
  • 17 series:RS18017xs+, RS4017xs+, RS3617xs+, RS3617RPxs, RS3617xs, DS3617xs, DS1817+, DS1517+
  • 16 series:RS18016xs+
  • 15 series:RC18015xs+, DS3615xs
  • 14 series:RS3614xs+, RS3614RPxs, RS3614xs
  • 13 series:RS3413xs+
  • 12 series:RS3412RPxs, RS3412xs, DS3612xs
  • 11 series:RS3411RPxs, RS3411xs, DS3611xs

Synology 25Gbe E25G21-F2 Upgrade Card

A relatively new add on for the Synology PCIe Upgrade range (thanks to their embracing of SAN protocols in a bigger way in DSM 7.0, even renaming iSCSI manager to SAN Manager), the new E25G21-F2 card is a fibre optic-based 25 Gigabit Ethernet, 2-Port (so potential 50Gbe) card that is designed specifically for Synology NAS systems. Clearly (and as mentioned in my introduction) this card opens the pipeline for 2500/5000MB/s speeds, but you will need some SERIOUS storage media configurations in your NAS in order to saturate it! Supporting a range of ethernet connectivity and transceiver types (including Optical SR, LR and DAC hardware), this card is clearly designed with massive 12-Bay+ Xeon equipped and large distance setups in mind. The Synology E25G21-F2 card also supports auto-negotiation (i.e backwards compatible and will automatically switch to) 10Gbe SFP+, so for those who are considering upgrading their rackmount to 10Gbe over fibre and have a decent budget to play with, might benefit to spend a little more on this 25Gbe alternative, as there is only around $120-150 between them). Unlike other PCIe cards in this list, the compatibility of the E25G21-F2 25G card is a little thinner, largely down to the forced need to have a PCIe Gen 3 x8 slot (potentially 8000MB/s card-to-board bandwidth), which only really appeared on Synology systems since 2016/2017 onwards. Additionally, you are going to need at least 12-14 Enterprise-grade (Pro/Data Center) Hard Drives or 8+ Pro class SSDs in order to make the most of this card on your fiber network. A very impressive card, but as upgrades go, arrives with a number of high price system/media caveats too.

Currently Available SFP28 E25G21-F2 Card

E25G21-F2 2-PORT 25Gbe CARD $369

Pros & Cons of Synology 10Gbe Upgrade Cards

  • 25Gbe and potential LAG/Trunk 50Gbe is just awesome
  • 5-year Warranty and Still Supported by older systems as far back as 2017 Series
  • Can be used as a 10Gbe x2 Port card and then scaled up as your network hardware environment grows
  • Although Supported by some SMB systems (e.g. DS1821+), they will NEVER reach the full performance this can offers
  • 25GBASE-T Copper – Never say never!
  • FS series:FS6400, FS3600, FS3400, FS3017, FS2017, FS1018
  • SA series:SA3600, SA3400, SA3200D
  • UC series:UC3200
  • 21 series:RS4021xs+, RS3621xs+, RS3621RPxs, RS2821RP+, RS2421RP+, RS2421+, RS1221RP+, RS1221+, DS1821+, DS1621xs+, DS1621+
  • 19 series:RS1619xs+
  • 18 series:RS3618xs, DS3018xs
  • 17 series:RS18017xs+, RS4017xs+, RS3617xs+, RS3617RPxs, DS3617xs

Synology Fiber 10Gbe Upgrade Cards

Much like the previous card, the range of fibre 10Gbe cards that Synology offer are ONLY available in 2-Port builds in 2021/2022. You can use some 3rd party 1-Port SFP+ cards, but in recent years Synology has become very strict on upgrades on their systems being 1st party (highlighting that it’s difficult to support NAS users who run ‘unsupported’ configurations – make of that what you will). The two available 10Gbe cards are the 2017 series E10G17-F2 and 2021 series E10G21-F2. Both cards are PCIe Gen 3 x8, support low and full height profile installation, and both have 5 years warranty – however, the 2017 series card is around £50-60 cheaper. This is because the newer card uses a better heatsink, and seemingly supports more offload protocol/setups. In most cases, however, either card (as long as it is on the compatibility lists below) will be sufficient for a potential 2,000MB/s external throughput.

Currently Available SFP+ 10Gbe Cards

E10G17-F2 2-PORT CARD – OLD GEN – $230 E10G21-F2 2-PORT CARD – NEW GEN – $269

Pros & Cons of Synology 10Gbe Upgrade Cards

  • 10G SFP+ Still has a lot of flexibility in its deployment
  • Glad to see the old card still available for a small £ saving
  • PCIe Gen 3×8 is excellent and more than this card needs
  • No inclusive DAC type cables, even as an optional purchase
  • Not Supported outside of NAS, so you will likely buy 3rd Party Cards for your client hardware – so might be easier to just buy +1 of those

Synology E10G17-F2 and E10G21-F2 Compatibility Below (Blue = Both, Red = E10G17-F2 ONLY:

  • FS series:FS6400, FS3600, FS3400, FS3017, FS2017, FS1018
  • SA series:SA3600, SA3400, SA3200D
  • UC series:UC3200
  • 21 series:RS4021xs+, RS3621xs+, RS3621RPxs, RS1221RP+, RS1221+, DS1821+, DS1621xs+, DS1621+
  • 20 series:RS820RP+, RS820+
  • 19 series:RS1619xs+, RS1219+, DS2419+, DS1819+
  • 18 series:RS3618xs, RS2818RP+, RS2418RP+, RS2418+, RS818RP+, RS818+, DS3018xs, DS1618+
  • 17 series:RS18017xs+, RS4017xs+, RS3617xs+, RS3617RPxs, RS3617xs, DS3617xs, DS1817+, DS1517+
  • 16 series:RS18016xs+
  • 15 series:RC18015xs+, DS3615xs
  • 14 series:RS3614xs+, RS3614RPxs, RS3614xs
  • 13 series:RS3413xs+
  • 12 series:RS3412RPxs, RS3412xs, DS3612xs
  • 11 series:RS3411RPxs, RS3411xs, DS3611xs

Synology SSD Caching and Combo Upgrade Cards

In the latest desktop NAS releases from Synology, we have seen the appearance of dedicated M.2 NVMe slots that allow you to install super-fast PCIe based SSDs inside, which you can then combine with your slower (but larger capacity HDD RAID) in a system known as caching. In brief, this utilizes the much, much faster SSD access speed towards storing copies of more frequently accessed data (typically hundreds/thousands of smaller files) and thereby improve performance – both in general feedback/utility and general Read and Write. Older generation devices before around 2017/2018 (which the exception of around 2-3 devices) did NOT arrive with this feature and in efforts to allow users to have this feature, Synology has released a couple of versions of this hardware in PCIe add-on form. The latest of these is the M2D20 2xNVMe card (also supports the larger 22110 M.2 SSD too). Support and compatibility on your NAS are more centred around the CPU inside than the PCIe, but this has allowed a number of users to take advantages of the improvements in caching that are being rolled into DSM 6.2 and DSM 7.0. It is also worth highlighting that the previous generation of this card, the M2D18, is still available and is a PCIe Gen 2×8 version that is better suited to the 2016/2017 series Synology SMB systems, though only supports to 2280 length m.2 SSD. Synology NAS users could always choose to occupy their available SATA SSD bays and use SATA 2.5″ SSDs, but these do not quite provide the same level of boost and still require you to lose an available storage bay. See a little more on this in the video below:

However, in mid-2020 the next generation in this hardware arrived from Synology in the form of the new E10M20-T1 PCIe Card. This PCIe Gen 3 x8 card provided 2x 22110 M.2 NVMe SSD bays for caching AND it included a 10Gbe Copper ethernet port TOO! This card allows users to enjoy super-fast caching AND 1,000MB/s external connectivity AND only use a single PCIe slot. This is especially useful, given the bulk of SMB solutions that had neither of these features would typically have only a single PCIe upgrade slot available. If you can spare the budget, I STRONGLY recommend choosing the E10M20-T1 over the M2D20 (even after the price increase). As usual, it is worth highlighting that 1) the card only officially supports Synology’s own SNV3400 & SNV3500 SSDs and 2) you cannot use this card in a NAS system that already has m.2 slots (i.e you cannot add this and have 4x NVMe SSD slots. Still, it’s a very well made card and highlight recommended for significantly boosting an older generation SMB NAS that can get a PCIe upgrade.

Currently Available SSD Cache and Cache+10G Combo Cards

M2D18 2x NVMe 2280 Card – $169 M2D20 2x NVMe 22110 Card – $219 E10M20-T1 2x NVMe 22110 +10G – $289

Pros & Cons of Synology SSD and SSD+10Gbe Upgrade Cards

  • M2D20 & E10M20-T1 both are PCIe Gen 3×8 and support 22110 M.2 NVMe
  • 5year Warranty on both cards
  • Easy Install and No Drivers Needed for Instant Ue
  • M.2 ONLY Card is too close to the M.2 SSD+10G Card in Price to Justify
  • Lack of ability to use the NVMe M.2 Slots for Storage Pools

Synology M2D20 and E10M20-T1 Compatibility List:

  • SA series:SA3600, SA3400
  • 21 series:RS4021xs+, RS3621xs+, RS3621RPxs, RS2821RP+, RS2421RP+, RS2421+, RS1221RP+, RS1221+
  • 20 series:RS820RP+, RS820+
  • 19 series:DS2419+, DS1819+
  • 18 series:RS2818RP+, DS3018xs, DS1618+

Synology M2D18 NVMe SSD Support:

  • FS series:FS1018
  • 20 series:RS820RP+, RS820+
  • 19 series:DS2419+, DS1819+
  • 18 series:RS2818RP+, RS2418RP+, RS2418+, DS3018xs, DS1618+

Synology M2D18 SATA SSD Support:

  • FS series:FS2017
  • 19 series:RS1219+
  • 18 series:RS3618xs, RS818RP+, RS818+
  • 17 series:RS18017xs+, RS4017xs+, RS3617xs+, RS3617RPxs, DS3617xs, DS1817+, DS1517+

So, there you have it. Those are the best available PCIe Upgrade Cards currently available and supported on Synology right now. I hope you found this guide useful. If you need more help in choosing the right card, or just want some free advice on your data storage setup, use the free advice section below. It is GENUINELY free, ran by humans (me and Eddie) and although it might take an extra day or so to respond when it gets busy, we will respond to all enquiries. Thank you and have a great week!

 


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