Subject: Networking | January 4, 2013 - 07:30 AM | Chris Barbere
Tagged: streamboost, qualcomm, qos, D-Link, ces 2013, alienware
With CES right around the corner, we’re about to be buried in a deluge of announcements from consumer electronics vendors. Since I was not able to get out to CES in person this year, Qualcomm offered to give me a sneak peek at their new “Streamboost” technology they’ve just announced and will be showing at CES. I got to spend some time on the phone with Ciera Jammal, their PR rep and Michael Cubbage, Director of Business Development in their networking unit. For those of you that may not recognize Michael’s name, he was one of the co-founders of Bigfoot Networks that brought us their “Killer Gaming” line of Ethernet and wireless products. Acquired by Qualcomm in the fall of 2011, the merged Bigfoot and Qualcomm teams have now released “Streamboost”.
So, what is Streamboost you ask? Simply put, it’s an innovative Quality of Service engine that’s much, much more than what’s available for consumer QoS today. QoS on most current consumer products only looks at what ports traffic is flowing across and prioritizes the traffic based on a simple list of what ports should be given priority at the expense of traffic on lower priority ports. There’s no analysis of what the actual traffic is and in cases where different types of traffic flows over the same port (port 80 for example) it doesn’t offer any benefit at all. The Streamboost engine on the other hand, will actually inspect the packets in real time, determining not only what port the traffic is using, but what the traffic actually is. So for example, Streamboost will be able actually be able to tell that one stream is 1080p YouTube video while another is Standard Definition Netflix traffic, even though they are both on port 80, and give both streams the bandwidth they need.
Once the engine determines what type of data is moving through the connection, it will give that connection the bandwidth it needs to run optimally, but no more. The “no more” piece is important because it frees up bandwidth for other applications and connections. If there is not enough bandwidth available for the “Optimal” setting, it will then drop back and make every effort to give the connection what’s been determined to be the “Minimum acceptable” bandwidth needed for that type of traffic.
How does Streamboost know what bandwidth is Optimal and what bandwidth is Minimum? Well, Qualcomm has studied various types of traffic ranging from YouTube to Netflix to Call of Duty to torrents, and they’ve come up with the Optimal and Minimum bandwidth values for all types of traffic. This data will be included in a “Detection and Policy Table” on the router that the Streamboost engine will reference. My first thoughts when I heard this was that it sounded great, but what happens when that table gets out of date? Qualcomm has thought of that as well and Streamboost includes an opt-in, cloud based service that will keep your router’s table up to date. Not only that, but if the router encounters a new type of traffic not in its table, it will capture a few packets and send them up to the cloud (anonymized of course) to be analyzed and added to future table updates. Your router should actually perform better as it’s table is updated and will be better after a year than it was on Day 1. However, if you’re not interested in being part of the “Opt In crowd”, the engine can also be manually updated at any time.
The UI looks great and will let you drill down into your bandwidth use either by application or device. Speaking of devices, Streamboost can detect the various types of devices on your network and lets you prioritize based on those criteria as well.
D-Link and Alienware are the first two partners onboard with Streamboost and will be showing routers with the technology at CES as well as releasing them this spring. All in all, after speaking to Qualcomm, I think I’m going to hold off my planned router upgrade until I can get my hands on a new router with Streamboost built in.
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Subject: General Tech, Displays | June 20, 2011 - 04:03 AM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: widi, D-Link
There are a lot of benefits of having a home theatre PC but still one major drawback: having the PC by the TV. Intel has worked hard to find a solution and released the specification under the name “WiDi”, a wireless display specification that lets you share your monitor with an HDTV attached to a wireless receiver box. D-Link has just recently launched their WiDi receiver in the US with Canada coming next month; will WiDi start picking up market share with more capable devices?
Why do network appliances these days look like pillows?
(Image from D-Link)
The D-Link MainStage (known as DHD-131 to its friends) has only a power cable to its name apart from your choice of video and audio connection to your TV or sound system. For choice of connection you have two video options and three audio options: on the video side you have HDMI for your high-resolution viewing and standard RCA for your standard definition devices; on the audio side you have optical audio or HDMI for surround and white and red RCA for stereo. Apart from a power button and a reset button that is the whole of this unit.
Plastic case with on/off butty. Baby got back shots.
(Image from D-Link)
One thing that typically holds back other implementations of WiDi that I have seen, and I assume this is no exception, is latency. The slight lag when controlling a media program or browsing a website is acceptable however it would really hold back the use of a PC as a console replacement unless the video card is directly connected to the TV which is a definite shame but to be expected given the bandwidths over WiFi that we are talking about. If you happen to be interested in this solution, however, it retails for just under 130$.