Introduction: This Is Not a NAS
The new WSS NAS series from Thecus contains some very interesting devices, and particularly so at the entry-level price with the unit we’re looking at today. WSS is the abbreviation for Windows Storage Server (in this case it’s 2012 R2), and this provides a huge increase in functionality compared to a standard NAS, as you might imagine.
Need a server? Just add a keyboard, mouse, and monitor
It’s really quite remarkable what Thecus is doing in partnership with Microsoft here in terms of value, as this entry 2-bay unit costs just $350. While this may seem high for a dual-bay NAS, we really aren’t talking about a NAS at all with this - which will be readily apparent to the user upon first powering it up. We are talking about a full-scale server here, replete with Windows Server 2012 R2 Essentials goodness. Of course a savvy user could easily deploy a small server in a home or office, and there are many advantages to managed solutions beyond the simple NAS appliances. But the advantage of a NAS is just that: it is significantly less complex and accessible for a consumer. The W2000 presents a very interesting option due to one particular aspect of its own accessibility: price. At $350 you are getting a very compact server with internal hardware much more akin to a standard desktop than you might imagine, and it ships installed with Microsoft's Windows Storage Server 2012 R2 Essentials.
What is “Storage” Server Essentials?
Ok, so I was a little confused as to the specific difference with the Storage version of the Server OS, unless it was simply a licensing distinction. My research first brought me to this quote from Microsoft:
“Windows Storage Server 2012 R2 Essentials is based on Windows Server 2012 R2. In fact, when it comes to functionality, you get key some features that aren’t included in these first two editions.”
After looking through the available documentation it appears as though Storage Server Essentials is, essentially, just Server Essentials with the distinction of being licensed differently. Microsoft TechNet defines it further:
“A computer that runs Windows Storage Server is referred to as a storage appliance. Windows Storage Server is based on the Windows Server operating system, and it is specifically optimized for use with network-attached storage devices. Windows Storage Server offers you a platform to build storage appliances that are customized for your hardware.”
Subject: General Tech | August 7, 2014 - 01:37 PM | Ken Addison
Tagged: podcast, video, Thecus, n2560, asus, strix, strix 780, flash media summit, Samsung, tlc, vnand, Marvell, gtx 880, x99s sli plus
PC Perspective Podcast #312 - 08/07/2014
Join us this week as we discuss the Thecus N2560 NAS, ASUS STRIX GTX 780, Flash Media Summit News and more!
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Hosts: Jeremy Hellstrom, Josh Walrath, Scott Michaud, and Morry Tietelman
Week in Review:
EVGA Contest Winner
User: Lt Dan 521
News items of interest:
Flash Memory Summit 2014
Hardware/Software Picks of the Week:
Ryan: Soccer moms
Jeremy: Playing StarCraft On An ARM, natively!
The Thecus N2560 is a dual-bay NAS Server powered by an Intel Atom SoC. With the addition of HDMI output could this be the answer for some basic HTPC needs as well?
The Thecus N2560 at work in the living room
The N2560 is similar in some ways to the Thecus N2310 NAS we looked at a couple of months ago, but it builds on both the functionality and power of that unit. Both are 2-bay designs with support for up to 8TB of storage via dual 4TB hard drives, and they run the same OS (ThecusOS 6). There are some very big differences, too. The N2560 boasts an Intel Atom SoC which provides dual 1.60 GHz cores, compared to the N2310’s single 800 MHz PowerPC core. The N2560 also features a full-size HDMI output as well as SPDIF digital audio output, making it a potential alternative for some HTPC tasks.
The Thecus N2560 is an attractive-looking device, with the smooth lines and finish of a more expensive product. But beyond the N2560's appearance and basic function as a NAS, this is really a server. Digital audio and video output is certainly an impressive addition for a device that retails for around $180, making it a compelling budget HTPC option if the OS and media software work well. Since the basics of the Thecus OS and NAS usage were covered with the N2310, the media output potential of the N2560 is the area of focus for this review.
The N2310 is a budget dual-bay NAS from Thecus and an interesting product beyond the low cost for this category, boasting a number of features that help set it apart.
Apart from the primary role of a network attached storage (NAS) device - you know, storage - there are some interesting things a piece of hardware like the N2310 can do. This inexpensive NAS is actually a server, too, so beyond storing up to 8TB of data it’s powerful enough to replace a dedicated PC for certain tasks - the kind of tasks that some of us leave a PC running 24/7 to accomplish.
In this review we’ll take a look at some of the functionality that helps set the N2310 apart, as well as the kind of real-world performance you might expect to see.
It’s All About the Gigabytes
There are more reasons now than ever before for large storage options. Even though SSD’s are at their lowest prices ever most of us still need to supplement a fast boot drive with some traditional spinning disks. Just think about what accumulates in an average year on your PC… photos, music, videos, program backups and images, you name it. All those GB’s have to go somewhere, and there are obviously internal and external hard drives to share the load. However, regardless of the local storage option you might chose, it’s not always so convenient to actually access this stuff again. Clearly, the easier it is to access your files, the better - and not just from one device. So, having centralized storage is a great idea, right?
Between computers, tablets, and of course our phones, there are generally quite a few connected devices in the average technology-inclined home. And while every device mentioned can connect to the internet - and cloud storage has become very popular - there's still something to be said for local content management. Beyond the convenience of sharing sometimes massive amounts of data easily at home, another benefit of always-on storage is backup. Ideally, every computer in the home would be backed up locally as well as the cloud, and a great way to take care of the local side of backup is with a NAS. Setting one up is very easy these days, with a growing number of affordable options from various vendors.
Thecus makes an interesting case for a budget NAS with the N2310. For a comparison, Allyn recently looked at Western Digital’s My Cloud EX2 network drive, and this is a highly polished all-in-one solution is now selling for about $199 (without drives). The Thecus N2310 is less expensive at $149, and both offer two 3.5” drive bays. (The My Cloud is also offered pre-populated with drives providing up to 8TB of storage.) These “diskless” enclosures present a good opportunity to save some money up front, and whether you choose to run on two drives you happened to have around the house or office, or if you want to go out and grab a couple of Western Digital 4TB Red drives, they can accommodate your situation.
Let’s take a look at the Thecus N2310.
Subject: Storage | October 7, 2012 - 12:44 AM | Tim Verry
Tagged: Thecus, qnap, NAS, Intel, atom d2550, atom d2500, asustor
Earlier this week, Intel announced that two of its Cedar Trail Atom-series processors would be powering several upcoming Network Attached Storage (NAS) devices. Intended to be used in devices for home and small business users, they will feature either the Intel Atom D2500 or D2550 processor. Centralized content vaults, so-called personal clouds (internet and LAN-accessible storage), and security systems are all possible uses of the Intel Atom CPU-powered NAS boxes.
Both 32nm chips have a 10W TDP, 1MB of L2 cache, and are clocked at 1.86GHz. The D2500 has two cores while the D2550 is a dual core part with HyperThreading for a total of four threads. Both processors have an integrated northbridge and a PowerVR SGX545 GPU. The D2500 has the integrated GPU clocked at 400MHz while the Atom D2550’s SGX545 GPU is running at 640MHz.
|Cores (with HT)||2 / 2||2 / 4|
|Clockspeed||1.86 GHz||1.86 GHz|
|L2 Cache||1 MB||1 MB|
|Graphics Clock||400 MHz||640 MHz|
|TDP||10 W||10 W|
The Intel-powered NAS boxes will have anywhere from two to eight hard drives and offer up a number of features. For example, the storage devices will be able to integrate the McAfee AV SDK to run virus scans on your media files on the NAS itself. And thanks to the GPU, platforms with storage and the Atom chips will be able to support up to two external displays. The example Intel provided is a security system where the D2500/D2550 can power a computer with lots of attached storage and up to output up to four HD video stream on up to two displays thanks to GPU acceleration.
The Thecus N5550 NAS using the Intel Atom processor.
NAS boxes from QNAP, Asustor, and Thecus will be available at launch, with additional devices from other manufacturers coming in the future. The Thecus device is available for purchase now for around $600 without hard drives pre-installed.
On the small business side of things, Intel has announced that Mostor and Dane-Elec have also jumped on board to provide optimized software for the hardware used in business environments.
Read the full press release on Intel's website.
Subject: General Tech, Systems, Storage | February 20, 2012 - 01:53 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: Thecus, NAS
Home users are starting to look at Network Attached Storage (NAS) devices to serve their home media needs. Also popular are products which allow you to browse the internet and play media on your TV. Just announced by Thecus are two NAS devices which fit both roles and many others. The N2800 contains a built-in media card reader while the N4800 has a built in mini Uninterruptable Power Supply (UPS), OLED status screen, and a second USB3.0 port.
I hear they're a NASty bunch...
The obvious selling features of the two devices are the inclusion of HDMI output to enable the above roles as well as an updated 3rd Generation Intel Atom CPU D2700. The D2700 is a 2.13GHz Dual Core and hyper threaded Intel Atom processor manufactured at 32nm.
Check out the highlights of their press release below.
02/20/2012- As part of the Intel Embedded Alliance, Thecus has precedence and access to a multitude of Intel prototypes and the latest technologies. Working on those products for months now, Thecus is delighted to finally release its Vision Series.
The new N2800 and N4800 are going to be some of the first Intel(r) Atom(tm) D2700 based NAS! They will set the standard for what's best in the market to help you build a true multimedia center: USB 3.0, Dual Gigabit Ports, SD Card reader (N2800), Mini-UPS (N4800), etc.
And the most important feature is the HDMI output. With Thecus Local Display module, it's now possible to connect the NAS directly to a monitor and control it through USB mouse/keyboard. Playing HD movies, browsing the web, controlling the NAS... everything is now possible directly from your TV! Thanks to this feature, Thecus is now creating a new standard among the NAS industry.
Thecus(r) Technology Corp. specializes in IP Storage Server and Network Video Recorder solutions. The company was established in 2004 with the mission to make technology that is as transparent as it is easy-to-use and products that are not only the best on the market, but are accessible to experts and novices alike. Combining a world-class R&D team highly experienced in storage hardware and software development with a keen customer focus, Thecus(r) stays close to the market to develop high-quality products to fulfill the storage and surveillance needs of today's world.
Subject: Storage, Shows and Expos | May 16, 2011 - 04:34 PM | Tim Verry
Tagged: Thecus, SAN, NAS, computex
Thecus, a leading provider of Intel based NAS (Network Attached Storage) products, has announced that they will be unveiling a new XXX line powered by Intel Sandy Bridge processors and offering 10G Base T Connections at 2011's Computex in Taipei. The XXX line covers everything from 2 bay Atom powered NAS for consumer useage all the way to the new 16 bay Sandy Bridge powered NAS for enterprise use. The "XXX" stands for "Xtreme Power, Xtreme Function, and Xtreme Value," and it is their line of the best performance for the price NAS devices.
They will be unveiling an eight bay, twelve bay, and sixteen bay NAS which they have dubbed the N8900, N12000PRO, and N16000PRO respectively. The eight bay NAS will be powered by a dual core Intel i3 2120 at 3.3GHz while the twelve and sixteen bay NAS devices will be powered by a quad core Intel Xeon E3-1280 at 3.5GHz. Considering that these chips are sought after for enthusiast and workstation computers much less NAS boxes, they will be able to eliminate CPU bottle-necking and provide ample horsepower to feed all of the NAS devices' internal drives. Thecus confidently states that "these models are guaranteed to dominate the market with excellent results for consumers jues like their predecessors."
Thecus further states that their new NAS devices offer 100% availability with 10 G Base T HA and iSCSI SAN (Storage Area Network) "with absolutely no breaks or delays in service in rain, shine, or Armageddon." Their NAS boxes "finally give businesses a true alternative to messy, bulk, budget-busting servers."
Whether their claims will hold up to testing or not, Thecus certainly seems confident in their product and are not afraid to follow the adage of "go big or go home" as they partner with Intel to power their NAS boxes with the latest and greatest in CPU technology.