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CPU/RAM How much is too little or too much?

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I was going to reply to another thread with this question, but I felt it needed its own post to generate some discussion, as I am very interested to see the responses and opinions of the other people building these types of devices, so Please post any responses and opinions I really want to get opinions on this and maybe learn something in the process.


How important is cpu computing power and ram overall in a DSM build, whichever platform.  I have to guess if storage is the end goal, not much? in other words, if your DSM/NAS/TrueNAS/UnRAID/OMV/etc is basically a hard drive on the end of an ethernet port in your LAN and all the system is doing is file serving duty that would take a minimum amount of cpu power and ram requirements? But I am not sure how much overhead things like BTRFS, SHR, Data Integrity checks, etc actually need to use, and if computing power is on the lower end, does performance suffer? would it be a noticeable difference to the end user? And what is considered low powered cpu(s)? Most of the consumer / pro-sumer grade NAS boxes tend to be Celeron, Atom, type cpu's with 2gb/4gb of ram, even synology and WD use some Armada and Annapurna cpu's with 1gb of ram (admittedly I dont know if those cpus are powerful cpu's or not). To be clear, when I say lower power, I mean compute power, not electrical power consumption.


I had read systems like truenas and other zfs platform nas systems want 1gb of ram for every 1tb of storage in the pool/array... While I don't pretend to understand the behind the scenes, that seems excessive especially if someone has a huge array.... What I consider a huge array may not be huge to you, but a 60tb array in truenas/zfs would want 60gb of ram + 8gb of system ram so something like >68gb of system ram? wow.  Is DSM over head similar or not so much. And I realize for some a 60tb pool may be small, so just using that as an example.


I see lots of posts guys building >10th intel cpu's for a nas box, and to each his own, but that seems like waaay to much power unless you running VMs with DSM/VMM being the hypervisor, or lots of CCTV cameras for surveillance station... Even synologys own genuine hardware is a little lackluster overall? I mean a DVA3221 is an Atom cpu, 8gb of ram and a Nvidia 1650 GPU... Where a DS1621+ is an Amd Ryzen 1500b which is 3x more powerful in BENCHMARKS at least in cpu compute power.


I am trying to justify some new hardware purchases ;) so I figured I would ask this question. I assume most people, at least home users, are media minded when building a nas, so hw transcoding for video is probably the big thing. I guess maybe the more advanced users will utilize more features like SS/VMM/etc and maybe more compute power is desired. Just trying to establish where a base line might be? As a computer nerd myself, I always want bigger better faster stronger, but realistically what are the opinions of the masses.


What are you using your xpenology setups for? is it your primary nas? are you using another primary nas? what do you use it for? are you using VM or Bare metal?


I actually own a few genuine synology nas boxes for home and work, the xpenology is more of a project at home at this point, but I plan to use one as a backup for my other baremetal nas... I plan on using xpenology on proxmox with a bunch of smaller (4tb) spinning drives for redundant backup. Plus trying to find other interesting projects for the proxmox.


I anxiously await your posts.


Thank you for reading.

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  • 1 month later...

I can tell you only my point of view why I decided to go for more power.


There are two main reasons for my beefy hardware. I wanted to use my NAS

Even though my NAS does so much more. It is like a server dedicated to many tasks.


For me there was a sweet spot to choose for buying hardware. My variables were:

  • compatible hardware
  • price
  • availability
  • electrical power consumption
  • raw performance in DSM (CPU + RAM + read and write for my volume)

That's for example why I use 5 SSDs for a single Volume in RAID 0 and have a 10 Gbit NIC in use.


However, I don't care about how much performance DSM itself needs to run basic NAS OS tasks. If you want to know more about this topic I can recommend you this Video.

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