10GbE and Storage Server Upgrades

Since the swap over to my new 4U storage server ZION it has already had a number of upgrades and I have used it quite heavily. My old N5550’s now all sit unused. In this post I will cover the updates to Zion 4U storage server and my Synology NAS 1817+.

Cache Pool Updates

In my Zion storage server I have an internal drive cage specific for SSDs. I swapped out the five 120GBs for 5x 500GB SSDs into the Unraid cache pool, as well as an NVMe drive, giving my total cache pool 2TB of size. This is important since my VMs and docker containers run straight from the cache pool. This will be important for the 10GbE upgrade as well.

Unfortunately for the Synology NAS 1817+ it had a cache pool downgrade. When I first built the Synology I put in the dual M.2 PCI-E card that allows a read-write cache. To upgrade to 10GbE networking this would have to be replaced. I had also worn the M.2 SSD’s down to their last 15% of life remaining so it was the perfect time to make the change. There is a 10Gb Ethernet and M.2 adapter combo card (E10M20-T1) but it is not compatible with the 1817+. I also did not read great reviews about heat dissipation. Even with my dual slot card the M.2 drives in the Synology would always run hot around 48C+. It was a good run with the Synology read-write cache and I had no issues with it but the 10GbE upgrade takes priority.

A well used SSD read-write cache coming out of service just prior to getting below 10%

10GbE Upgrade

I am finally making the jump to 10GbE on my two storage servers. It’s not quite a full 10GbE roll out yet because I would need three 10GbE switches to accomplish that and right now they are about $780 each, ouch. I currently have the UniFi US-48 switch as my aggregate switch which has two 10G SFP+ports. So the plan is to do a simple switch over to 10GbE network cards on just the two storage servers (Zion and Synology).

Parts I needed:

All in for this simple 10G upgrade was $328 CAD. Not bad, but keep in mind all the previous investments. I currently don’t plan on doing more 10GbE until the cost comes down and we move into a new house.

Unraid Parity Upgrade (2x2TB to 2x4TB)

For future planning I have upgraded the size of the parity drives on Zion to two 4TB NAS drives. They were previously 2TB drives which meant I could not expand the storage array with anything larger than a 2TB drive. With the parity drives increased to 4TB I can now start throwing 4TB drives into the array into the future. I decided to go with one Seagate IronWolf 4TB NAS (ST4000VN008) and one Western Digital 4TB Red (WD40EFRX). It was nice to see I was getting over 1.3GB/s (10.4Gbps) on the disk array during parity-sync and rebuild operations (without SSD cache pool assistance). So I have no doubts for this thing being capable of 10G networking.

I run my Unraid with dual-parity mode which allows any two drive failures, similar to RAID-6. It also makes upgrading parity drives less stressful since you always will have one good parity drive available and you never leave your data in a vulnerable unprotected state.

Thanks for reading!

Karl Nyen has been involved in the virtualization, server, web development and web hosting industry for over 13 years. In his current role at a managed service provider, he is focused on cloud-based solutions for enterprise clients. His diverse background of sales, management, and architectural/technical expertise bring a unique perspective to the virtualization practice.

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