Is the small yet powerful Synology FS1018 Flashstation 12-Bay NAS up to the task?
When Synology first announced the flashstation NAS, I have to admit I was a bit dubious. I do genuinely believe that SSD and NAS go together very well,, however, more and more we are finding that NAS devices are unable to take advantage of the blistering speed of SSD because of factors like internal hardware and external connections like 1Gbe.
This is where the Synology FS1018 flashstation is the answer to all my prayers. Arriving with 12 storage bays for solid-state media, as well as an impressive Intel-based Pentium CPU and DDR4 2133Mhz memory, the question is could this be the first real consumer available flash optimised network attached storage device?
The FS1018 Synology Flashstation NAS Hardware
As this is a brand new NAS from the guys at Synology it will come as no surprise that you arrived with a new chassis. However, it wasn’t until I was able to get my hands on the flash station as that I realised just how small the device is. Featuring 12 hot-swap bays, this NAS is highly optimised for both SSD media and compact NAS use.
The trays can be locked which I thought was a nice touch for a compact style NAS, which typically would not feature a locking mechanism. Likewise inline with Synology NAS alternatives, the trays in this flashstation NAS are screwless and SSD can be installed without the need of a screwdriver.
I should probably mention that of course you can use 2.5 inch hard drives and as opposed to SSD, however, this would largely result in a waste of perfectly good hardware! Nevertheless, this is one of the most powerful compact chassis NAS that I have got my hands on in many years.
Also featured on the bottom of the front panel is a USB 3.0 port for adding additional storage and for making portable drives network accessible. Although this is designed for copying to and from an external drive, I was a little disappointed that it did not feature one-touch copy button too. I know this is a VERY minor feature and hardly worth complaining about. However given that most SSDs that are installed in this device will be relatively low capacities when compared with traditional Hard Drives, it means that you could potentially backup this entire NAS server onto a single external drive at the touch of a button – so the versatility of one-touch copy via USB 3.0 would be perfectly suited. Still, this si hardly a debating point in the grand scheme of things.
The side panels of this Synology flashstation NAS are like other units from this brand and feature the Synology logo as a ventilation panel. This act of subtlety and passive cooling is one that I have long admired in the Synology chassis and build quality. At the bottom of this chassis, you’ll find four rubberised feet and a small panel that can be removed for upgrading this units RAM all the way up to 32GB of ECC memory.
A number of users complain that none of the NAS brands support the ability to exchange CPU, however, this is a minor concern and in the interests of stability I hope we never reach a point where this is an option.
There was originally talk at the first mentions of this device that this device would arrive with a Xeon based CPU (as found in larger 12 Bay DS3617xs), however, this was quickly squashed!
The rear of the device features several ports and features that we long since associate with a flagship NAS brand like Synology. The twin rear fans that can be manually or automatically set to heighten or lower their rotations per minute when needed, to reduce temperatures or noise as required. Additionally the unit features dual expansion ports to add further storage.
These ports each let you connect the DX1215 NAS expansion chassis and add 24 (12bays per port) and speed is maintained via this proprietary SAS connection. Finally, dual USB ports on the rear the units and also the FS1018 arrives with 4 Gigabit LAN ports. This means options such as failover support and link aggregation are readily available.and with a LAG or Port Trunking enabled switch, mean you can effectly quadruple your data exchanges leaving the NAS.
An area of this disagreement for users looking at this device regards 10Gbe ethernet. If you are purchasing a flash-optimized NAS of any brand, then chances are that not only are you populating the device with SSDs, but in order to avoid the bottleneck of standard network speeds, you will want to connect this NAS to an existing 10-gigabit ethernet network. Rather than including 10-gigabit ethernet on this device and therefore increasing the price by default, Synology have included an empty PCIe slot, allowing you to introduce upgrades such as 10-gigabit ethernet and M2 SSD caching if that is the way you want to setup this device.
I can understand why Synology have given people this flexibility, however, it is worth highlighting that several unbranded and non-Synology manufactured 10gbe expansion cards can be used on this device and therefore Synology may have cut the nose off despite their face on this one. Nevertheless, this device is still a game changer in terms of connectivity for compact and fast Media.
The FS1018 Synology Flashstation NAS Internal Hardware
Internally this device features several prosumer and mid-range hardware choices. The CPU is an Intel Pentium D chip with a 2.2Ghz clock speed that can be boosted to 2.6Ghz. This dual-core chip is perfectly complemented with DDR4 ECC memory, 8 GB by default. The combination of this impressive CPU and ram combination alongside the use of solid-state drive media means that iops (individual and internal operations) will be incredibly high – with Synology themselves reporting over 10Gbe, numbers of 40000 ISCSI based 4K random write iops. However, this only further goes to highlight the necessity of 10Gbe on this device.
Another cool feature of this device is that it support RAID F1. This supremely stable raid configuration distributes data across the SSDs in a far more productive and, more importantly, specifically designed algorithm to distribute loads in a far more efficient manner. Likewise RAID F1 enhances the resilience of your total storage ensuring that you maintain and have an improved hardware protection compared with a traditional RAID in mechanical media. Alongside this, the unit also supports the btrfs file system (I know I technically said file system twice!) featuring such facilities as snapshot replication, flexible shared folder creating, fast cloning, self-healing file detection and a greater control of data restoration on both a file and folder level. Tough to overestimate that one!
Alongside high-end performance server used this NAS also vastly supports the use of virtual machines. As well as the improved conduct of VM management via seamless migration of DSM interfaces (letting you deploy multiple Synology DSM workstations virtually from a single device), fast-acting redeployment and background snapshot are immediately available at any time.
This has also supports popular virtualisation solutions such as Windows storage server 2016, Windows Server 2012, openstack and VMware.
Moving away from virtual single user access, the device also supports numerous software advantages to create a centralised business storage platform for collaborating and team-based access. Acting as an independent safe and reliable CMS system, CRM repository, email server, internal live communication server end includes numerous first party office applications stylised on those of Microsoft and Google. Of course alongside these Enterprise applications, this device, of course, supports current popular home user applications such as Synology Drive Synology moments Synology drive and cloud migration with third-party providers and Synology C2.
Lastly, this device (even though it is not in the Synology XS series)arrives with 5 years of manufacturer’s warranty covering you in the event of hardware failure as well as the SRS, Synology replacement service. So most business users will have a great deal of peace of mind in these facilities included NAS server that though small, is powerful, fast and buddled with many years of manufacturer support.
Synology FS1018 12-Bay FlashStation NAS Conclusion
Ultimately this NAS is designed for fast Enterprise level storage. If you need this NAS to build a business around or to further bolster your existing data storage requirements – then you will not be disappointed with the FS1018 flashstation. However remember this device is not designed for the home user with little time or energy for Enterprise endeavours, let alone basic facilities such as Plex media server support and an apple time machine backup. However I will once again highlight that this is still to date one of the most powerful 2.5″ based NAS devices currently available and if you have a big enough budget and want a small, quiet and Powerful SSD NAS, you will be hard pushed to beat this device.
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