Red Hat drops the 7.1 Enterprise Beta for your testing pleasure

Subject: Networking | December 15, 2014 - 12:46 PM |
Tagged: linux, Red Hat, rhel, little-endian

Hot on the heels of Fedora's release last week comes a Beta release of Red Hat Enterprise Linux.  The new release comes with updates to user authentication via LDAP, Kerberos and FreeOTP as well as Security Content Automation Protocol Security Guides which are standards intended to make compliance and security testing easier.  OpenLMI is a standardized remote API for configuring Linux severs and will be very welcome for those who have to manage servers remotely and may be one of the most heavily tested of the new features on this OS.  Lastly, The Register notes that this version brings little-endian support when running on Power8 hardware which will make porting applications far less of a nightmare than it currently is.

redhat-icon-1.jpg

"RED HAT HAS ANNOUNCED the availability of Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) 7.1 Beta with enhancements to improve ease of use, manageability and performance, as well as support for IBM Power8 little endian architecture."

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Source: The Register

AMD Demonstrates ARM-Based NFV Solution Using Hierofalcon SoC

Subject: General Tech, Networking | October 11, 2014 - 01:42 AM |
Tagged: sdn, nfv, networking, Hierofalcon, arm, amd

AMD, in cooperation with Aricent and Mentor Graphics, recently demonstrated the first ARM-based Network Functions Virtualization (NFV) solution at ARM TechCon. The demonstration employed AMD's Embedded R-Series "Hierofalcon" SoC virtualizing a Mobile Packet Core running subscriber calls. The 64-bit ARM chip is now sampling to customers and will be generally available in the first half of next year (1H 2015). The AMD NFV Reference Solution is aimed at telecoms for use in communications network backbones where AMD believes an ARM solution will offer reduced costs (both initial and operational) and increased network bandwidth.

AMD ARM-Based Hierofalcon 64-bit SOC.jpg

The NFV demonstration of the Mobile Packet Core entailed virtualizing a Packet Data Network Gateway, Serving Gateway, Mobility Management Entity, and virtualized Wireless Evolved Packet Core (vEPC) applications. AMD further demonstrated live traffic migration between ARM-based Embedded-R and x86-based second generation R-Series APU solutions. NFV is related to, but independent of, software defined networking (SDN). Network Functions Virtualization is essentially the virtualizing of network appliances with specific functions and performing those functions virtually using generic servers. For example, NFV can virtualize firewalls, gateways, load balancers, intrusion detection, DNS, NAT, and caching functions. NFV virtualizes the upper networking layers (layers 4-7) and can allow virtual tunnels through a network that can then be assigned functions (such as those listed above) on a per-VM or per flow basis. NFV eliminates the need for specialized hardware appliances by virtualizing these functions on generic servers which have traditionally been exclusively x86 based. AMD is hoping to push ARM (and it's own ARM-based SoCs) into this market by touting even further capital expenditure and operational costs versus x86 (and, in turn, versus specialized hardware that serves the entire network whereas NFV can be more exactly provisioned).

It is an interesting take on a lucrative networking market which is dealing with 1.4 Zetabytes of global IP traffic per year. I'm interested to see if the telecoms and other enterprise network customers will bite and give AMD a slice of this pie on the low end and low power fronts.

AMD "Hierofalcon" Embedded R Series SoC

Hierofalcon is the code name for AMD's 64-bit SoC with ARM CPU cores intended for the embedded market. The SoC is a 15W to 30W chip featuring up to eight ARM Cortex-A57 CPU cores capable of hitting 2GHz, two 64-bit ECC capable DDR3 or DDR4 memory channels, 10Gb Ethernet, PCI-E 3.0, ARM TrustZone, and a cryptographic security co-processor.The TechCon demonstration was also used to launch the AMD NFV Reference Solution which is compliant with OpenDataPlane platform. The reference platform includes a networking software stack from Aricent and an Embedded Linux OS and software tools (Sourcery CodeBench) from Mentor Graphics. The OpenDataPlane demonstration featured the above mentioned Evolved Packet Core application on the Hierofalcon 64-bit ARM SoC. Additionally, the x86-based R-Series APU, OpenStack, and Data Plane Development Kit all make up the company's NFV reference solution. 

Source: AMD

Stanford & Berkeley Announce Tiny, Signal-Powered Radios

Subject: General Tech, Networking, Mobile | September 15, 2014 - 02:24 AM |
Tagged: radio-on-a-chip, iot, internet of things

Tiny and passively-powered radios would make for some interesting applications. One major issue is that you cannot shrink an antenna down infinitely; its size is dependent upon the wavelength of EM radiation that it is trying to detect. Researchers at Stanford and Berkeley have announced "ant-sized" radio-on-a-chip devices, fabricated at 65nm, which are powered by the signal that they gather.

stanford-antenna.jpg

The catch is that, because their antenna is on the order of a few millimeters, it is tuned for ~60 GHz. There are reasons why you do not see too many devices operate at this frequency. First, processing that signal with transistors is basically a non-starter, so they apparently designed a standard integrated circuit for the task.

The other problem is that 60 GHz is an Extremely High Frequency (EHF) and, with its high frequency, is very difficult to transmit over long ranges. The 57-64 GHz region, in particular, is a range which oxygen resonates at. While it is possible to brute-force a powerful signal through a sensitive antenna, that defeats the above purpose. Of course, the researchers have been honest about this. Right in their IEEE abstract, they claim a current, measured range of 50cm. In their Stanford press release, they state that this is designed to be part of a network with units every meter (or so). Current bandwidth is a little over 12 megabit.

Simply put, this will not become your new WiFi hotspot. However, for small and connected devices that are in close proximity, this could provide an interesting communication method for when size, cost, and power efficiency trump speed and range.

Source: Stanford

Intel Networking: XL710 Fortville 40 Gigabit Ethernet and VXLAN Acceleration

Subject: General Tech, Networking, Processors | September 8, 2014 - 12:29 PM |
Tagged: xeon e5-2600 v3, xeon e5, Intel

So, to coincide with their E5-2600 v3 launch, Intel is discussing virtualized LANs and new, high-speed PCIe-based, networking adapters. Xeons are typically used in servers and their networking add-in boards will often shame what you see on a consumer machine. One of these boards supports up to two 40GbE connections, configurable to four 10GbE, for all the bandwidth.

intel-40gb-nic-01.png

The Intel XL710 is their new network controller, which I am told is being manufactured at 28nm. It is supposedly more power efficient, as well. In their example, a previous dual 10-gigabit controller will consume 5.2W of power while a single 40-gigabit will consume 3.3W. In terms of a network adapter, that is a significant reduction, which is very important in a data center due to the number of machines and the required air conditioning.

As for the virtualized networking part of the announcement, Intel is heavily promoting Software-defined networking (SDN). Intel mentioned two techniques to help increase usable bandwidth and decrease CPU utilization, which is important at 40 gigabits.

intel-40gb-nic-3.jpg

Receive Side Scaling disabled

The first is "generic segmentation offload" for VXLAN (VXLAN GSO) that allows the host of any given connection to chunk data more efficiently to send out over a virtual network.

intel-40gb-nic-2.jpg

Generic Segmentation Offload disabled

The second is TCP L4 Receive Side Scaling (RSS), which splits traffic between multiple receive queues (and can be managed by multiple CPU threads). I am not a network admin and I will not claim to know how existing platforms manage traffic at this level. Still, Intel seems to claim that this NIC and CPU platform will result in higher effective bandwidth and better multi-core CPU utilization (that I expect will lead to lower power consumption).

intel-40gb-nic-4.jpg

Both enabled

If it works as advertised, it could be a win for customers who buy into the Intel ecosystem.

Source: Intel

NETGEAR Announces Nighthawk X4 AC2350 Router

Subject: General Tech, Networking | September 2, 2014 - 08:31 AM |
Tagged: nighthawk x4, netgear, mu-mimo, 802.11ac

Today, NETGEAR has announced the Nighthawk X4 802.11ac router. It is dual-band, with up to 1733 Mbps of bandwidth (four channels of 433 Mbps) on 5.0 GHz and up to 600 Mbps (three channels of 200 Mbps) on 2.4 GHz. Compared to the Nighthawk X6, released earlier in the year, the X4 is design for fewer users who demand more performance.

netgear-nighthawkx4-01.jpg

The first thing that stood out for me was its processor...s. The router contains two of them. Its main CPU is a dual-core Qualcomm Snapdragon-based (Update - Sept 2nd @ 5:20pm EDT: "Snapdragon-based" is unclear and misleading. It has "Snapdragon DNA with dual Krait cores". It is from their Qualcomm Internet Processors (IPQ) line, as mentioned in the following sentence.) ARM processor, clocked at 1.4 GHz. It is from their Qualcomm Internet Processors (IPQ) line, so it is not directly comparable to an SoC from their mobile line-up. NETGEAR also added a second, dualcore processor, clocked at 500 MHz, that is dedicated to deal with WiFi-related tasks as an "offload".

The reason why I found this interesting was that, not too many years ago, routers did not advertise their processor and RAM. There was once a niche who would create their own routers out of old PCs and an x86-compatible firmware (like OpenWRT). The push was to cheap routers with high bandwidth ratings. When I asked NETGEAR at what point did the industry decide to take the internal hardware seriously, their response was that about 73% of customers are repeat buyers. They upgraded their router because they were not happy with the performance that they were getting. Users have changed. HD video is going to numerous devices all over the home at the same time as games and downloads do their thing. The extra performance is necessary to keep the potential bandwidth in line with its usage.

netgear-nighthawkx4-02.png

One feature about this router that NETGEAR was promoting is Dynamic QoS. Using the extra processing power, mentioned in the two paragraphs above, the device identifies applications and allocates bandwidth accordingly. One example that they gave is YouTube versus Netflix. While both stream, Netflix will only grab what it needs while YouTube will load as quickly as possible to buffer ahead. If resources are tight, and Netflix is attempting to coexist with YouTube at any given time, the router will throttle the YouTube stream to provide it with at least enough bandwidth to stream, but not buffer, like, ten times faster than real time and choke out Netflix into a lower bit rate. If necessary, it will also prioritize the larger screen (TV) with the higher bit rate Netflix connection, where it will be more noticeable (than the smaller screen of a tablet, for instance).

And yes, QoS has been present in routers for more than a dog's age. They claim that it is typically a feature that users turn on, dislike, then turn right back off again. They believe that their new implementation will actually win you over.

netgear-nighthawkx4-03.jpg

The router will also feature two USB 3.0 ports and an eSATA connection. It will allow networked PC backup to an external hard drive and streaming media (photos, music, and videos) to TVs by DLNA.

The NETGEAR Nighthawk X4 AC2350 (R7500) is available now for $279.99.

Source: NETGEAR

ASUS RT-AC87U Is First Wave 2 802.11ac Router Supporting MU-MIMO Technology

Subject: Networking | August 14, 2014 - 11:47 PM |
Tagged: wireless router, wave 2, rt-ac87u, rt-ac87r, qsr1000, mu-mimo, ASUS ROG, asus, 802.11ac

ASUS recently launched the RT-AC87U which is the first "wave 2" 802.11ac wireless router to support multi user MIMO (MU-MIMO) technology. Although the initial launch happened at the end of last month, the RT-AC87U and RT-AC87R (a variant exclusive to Best Buy) will finally be avaiable for purchase starting August 26th for around $279.99.

The RT-AC87U is a monster matte black router with four large external antennas and sleek fighter jet angles. I/O is mostly clustered on the rear of the router and includes four Gigabit Ethernet LAN ports, one GbE WAN port, and one USB 2.0 port. In addition to the rear I/O, ASUS has positioned a USB 3.0 port on the front of the router (specifically the right corner of the front panel hidden behind a removeable rubber port cover).

ASUS RT-AC87 First Wave 2 Wireless AC Router With MU-MIMO.jpg

On the wireless front, the RT-AC87U and RT-AC87R supports the latest 802.11ac and newer 256QAM (600Mbps) 802.11n specification as well as legacy 802.11g/b/a Wi-Fi networks. The router supports simultaneous dual band operation, which results in maximum throughput of 1.73 Gbps on the 5GHz 802.11ac band (4 x 433 Mbps streams) and 600 Mbps on the 2.4GHz 802.11n band.

The new and interesting bit about the RT-AC87 is the MU-MIMO support. MU-MIMO, which stands for Multi-User Multple Input Multiple Output, is the evolution of MIMO technology which debuted with wireless N routers. The ASUS router is able to use multiple anntennas to communicate with a client device to increase bandwidth. Beamforming is used to focus the signal in the direction of the client to get better range and a stronger signal for that specific client. MU-MIMO builds on this technology by allowing the router to track, beamform, and employ multiple transmit and recieve antennas to talk to multiple clients simultaneously. Previously, routers were limited to communicating with a single client at a time (see the diagram below for an example).

SU-MIMO-compared-to-MU-MIMO.png

Multi-User MIMO will benefit those users that choose to connect the majority of their networked devices via Wi-Fi. However, the technology will be especially noticeable in areas flooded with various Wi-Fi networks such as apartments. According to Matthew Gast of Aerohive Networks, MU-MIMO will allow all wireless clients to get an acceptable data rate in crowded wireless areas at the expense of being able to deliver the highest data rate to a single client device. Especially when competing Wi-Fi networks are involved and fighting for channels, MU-MIMO will shine at keeping devices connected and talking to the access point. 

ASUS has chosen the Quantenna QSR100 chipset to handle the 802.11ac duties while a Broadcom BCM4709 chipset handles the 256QAM wireless N bands. Additionally, the RT-AC87 routers have 128MB of flash memory and 256MB of DDR3 RAM. According to ASUS, the router draws slightly over 45W.

On the software side of things, ASUS has chosen its own ASUSWRT firmware which includes parental controls, Time Machine backup support, VPN support, security software from TrendMicro (AiProtection), and AiCloud 2.0. USB support includes storage sharing as well as 3G/4G cellular modem internet connectivity.

In all, the ASUS RT-AC87U looks to be new home router champion packing quite a bit of hardware and leading the charge of Wave 2 802.11ac wireless routers. This all comes at a cost, however. The RT-AC87U and RT-AC87R will be available on August 26 with a MSRP of $269.99 and e-tail prices currently around $279.99.

For all the nitty-gritty details, check out this ASUS PCDIY blog post!

Source: Quantenna

NAB 2014: Thunderbolt Networking Announced for Windows

Subject: General Tech, Networking, Systems, Shows and Expos | April 8, 2014 - 03:26 PM |
Tagged: NAB, NAB 14, Thunderbolt 2, thunderbolt

Video professionals are still interested in Thunderbolt in probably much the same way as Firewire needed to be pried from their cold, dead hands. It is a very high bandwidth connector, useful for sending and receiving 4K video. Also, it was originally exclusive to Apple so you can guess which industries were first-adopters. Intel has focused their Thunderbolt announcements on the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) show. This year, Thunderbolt Networking will be available for Windows via a driver. This will allow any combination of Macs and Windows PCs to be paired together by a 10 Gigabit network.

Intel-Thunderbolt2-Networking.jpg

Of course, this is not going to be something that you can plug into a router. This is a point-to-point network for sharing files between two devices... really fast. Perhaps one use case would be a workstation with a Mac and a Windows PC on a KVM switch. If both are connected with Thunderbolt 2, they could share the same storage pool.

While this feature already exists on Apple devices, the PC driver will be available... "soon".

Source: Intel

Trendnet Readies TEW-818DRU AC1900 Wireless Router

Subject: Networking | March 12, 2014 - 07:56 PM |
Tagged: router, trendnet, gigabit router, gigabit ethernet, ac1900, 802.11ac, 256 qam, networking

Trendnet has launched a new 802.11ac wireless router called the TEW-919DRU. The new dual band router supports speeds up to 1300 Mbps on the 802.11ac network and 600 Mbps on the 2.4GB 802.11n network.

 

Trendnet TEW-818DRU AC1900 Mbps Router.jpg

 

The router is powered by an undisclosed ARM chip clocked at 1GHz and uses six internal 6 dBi antennas along with beamforming technology to increase stability and range. Trendnet includes five RJ-45 Gigabit Ethernet ports (four LAN, one WAN), one USB 3.0 port, and one USB 2.0 port. Users can simultaneously run an 802.11ac Wi-Fi network and an 802.11n Wi-Fi network. Further, users can add an additional guest Wi-Fi network on each 2.4GHz and 5GHz band as well as multiple SSIDs.

Trendnet TEW-818DRU IO.jpg

 

Trendnet also touts that the TEW-818DRU comes with a pre-encrypted Wi-Fi network that is setup out of the box with strong encryption; which is a great feature to see. Unfortunately, the benefits of the out-of-the-box Wi-Fi encryption is undermined by the default support of WPS (Wi-Fi Protected Setup) which has been shown to be insecure. Hopefully new firmware will make WPS opt-in rather than opt-out (if it is indeed possible to truly disable on this model) to get the security nod.

 

The new 'AC1900' TEW-818DRU wireless router will be available this month with an MSRP of $259.99 and 3 year manufacturer warranty.

Source: Trendnet

Get to know your network better with Linux

Subject: General Tech | March 11, 2014 - 03:39 PM |
Tagged: Bandwidthd, Speedometer, Nethogs, Darkstat, iperf, networking, linux

Over at Linux.com is a look at five network monitoring tools that will really help you determine not only what is utilizing your network but also its overall health.  Bandwidthd is a tool for web hosts and LAN admins which tallies up incoming and outgoing bandwidth usage and can present it in a variety of time frames, from usage per day to usage per year.  Nethogs tracks usage per process and Darkstat tracks total usage but comes with an embedded HTTP server which makes it fairly self contained.  Speedometer is fairly self explanatory and to understand iperf you should read the write up here as it is a powerful tool for investigating the quality of your network.

fig-1-bandwidthd.png

"In this roundup of Linux network testing utilities we use Bandwidthd, Speedometer, Nethogs, Darkstat, and iperf to track bandwidth usage, speed, find network hogs, and test performance."

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Source: Linux.com

Steam In-Home Streaming Closed Beta First Wave Begins

Subject: General Tech, Networking | January 15, 2014 - 02:27 AM |
Tagged: valve, SteamOS, pc game streaming

In-Home Streaming could be the feature most likely to kick-off SteamOS adoption. This functionality brings existing PCs to televisions without requiring the user to actually bring the box to their living room. Likewise, to justify purchasing a SteamOS behemoth, it seems likely to me that Valve will allow streaming back to Steam client from Steam Machines.

Video Credit: Devin Watson (Youtube)

Obviously the catalog of Windows games is the most obvious usage for In-Home Streaming but, in some years, maintaining just one high-end computer might dominate.

We will soon find out more about how it works. Valve has just allowed the first wave of development partners (and apparently many others) to the In-Home Streaming closed beta. Youtube videos are already beginning to leak out, or not-leak out depending on the NDA if one exists, which show it in action. The video, embedded above, is of a Lenovo T410 with an Intel Core i5 and integrated graphics streaming DayZ over Wireless-G. It looks pretty good at, they claim, without any noticeable lag.

The floodgates are open. Now, we wait with our umbrellas.

Source: Steam

Imagination Technologies Unleashes Warrior MIPS P5600 CPU Core Aimed at Embedded and Mobile Devices

Subject: Editorial, General Tech, Networking, Processors, Mobile | October 19, 2013 - 01:45 AM |
Tagged: SoC, p5600, MIPS, imagination

Imagination Technologies, a company known for its PowerVR graphics IP, has unleashed its first Warrior P-series MIPS CPU core. The new MIPS core is called the P5600 and is a 32-bit core based on the MIPS Release 5 ISA (Instruction Set Architecture).

The P5600 CPU core can perform 128-bit SIMD computations, provide hardware accelerated virtualization, and access up to a 1TB of memory via virtual addressing. While the MIPS 5 ISA provides for 64-bit calculations, the P5600 core is 32-bit only and does not include the extra 64-bit portions of the ISA.

Imagination Technologies Warrior MIPS P5600 CPU Core.png

The MIPS P5600 core can scale up to 2GHz in clockspeed when used in chips built on TSMC's 28nm HPM manufacturing process (according to Imagination Technologies). Further, the Warrior P5600  core can be used in processors and SoCs. As many as six CPU cores can be combined and managed by a coherence manager and given access to up to 8MB of shared L2 cache. Imagination Technologies is aiming processors containing the P5600 cores at mobile devices, networking appliances (routers, hardware firewalls, switches, et al), and micro-servers.

MIPS-P5600-Coherent-multicore-system.png

A configuration of multiple P5600 cores with L2 cache.

I first saw a story on the P5600 over at the Tech Report, and found it interesting that Imagination Technologies was developing a MIPS processor aimed at mobile devices. It does make sense to see a MIPS CPU from the company as it owns the MIPS intellectual property. Also, a CPU core is a logical step for a company with a large graphics IP and GPU portfolio. Developing its own MIPS CPU core would allow it to put together an SoC with its own CPU and GPU components. With that said, I found it interesting that the P5600 CPU core was being aimed at the mobile space, where ARM processors currently dominate. ARM is working to increase performance while Intel is working to bring its powerhouse x86 architecture to the ultra low power mobile space. Needless to say, it is a highly competitive market and Imagination Technologies new CPU core is sure to have a difficult time establishing itself in that space of consumer smartphone and tablet SoCs. Fortunately, mobile chips are not the only processors Imagination Technologies is aiming the P5600 at. It is also offering up the MIPS Series 5 compatible core for use in processors powering networking equipment and very low power servers and business appliances where the MIPS architecture is more commonplace.

In any event, I'm interested to see what else IT has in store for its MIPS IP and where the Warrior series goes from here!

More information on the MIPS 5600 core can be found here.

Surface RT Does Not Have Ethernet. Oh wait. No. Oh Wait?

Subject: General Tech, Networking, Systems, Mobile | August 6, 2013 - 04:18 AM |
Tagged: Surface RT, microsoft

It has been a month, to the day, since I picked on Windows RT for being more locked down than a Nintendo console. Devices, including Microsoft's own Surface RT, did not allow USB to Ethernet dongles for wired internet access. Compared to the Wii, that is quite pathetic.

9-ethernet2.png

Certain users have been able to use adapters until apparently, according to Mary Jo Foley, Microsoft helped ensure they are broke as intended. They are also demanding hardware manufacturers, who otherwise could support the operating system, to withhold drivers from their customers.

If you were one of those people who managed to get an Ethernet dongle working with your ARM-based Surface RT, you've probably since discovered that it no longer works.

I did not see any confirmation of Microsoft disabling any drivers so, bare in mind, I might have just misunderstood the above quote. Apparently, though, the issue arises from Connected Standby conflicts with those dongles.

But that does not mean Microsoft will continue to prevent Ethernet dongles.

According to the same article from Mary Jo Foley, Microsoft is quietly working on a fix for the issue. They are currently working, along with hardware manufacturers, on creating devices which can support the instant-on, instant-off feature. The cynic in me, of course, wonders if Microsoft will be first to market with the, albeit rumored, corrected peripheral.

Personally, I feel that a consumer who purchases one of your devices should be allowed to install hardware understanding the tradeoff. It would not be too difficult to pop up a warning, "Your USB device is not compatible with Connected Standby; the feature will resume when your accessory is removed".

Just another advantage for truly personal PCs.

Source: ZDNet

Epic Intel vs Qualcomm Battle to the Death... WiFi Adapters...

Subject: General Tech, Networking | August 1, 2013 - 09:43 PM |
Tagged: qualcomm, killer, Intel, 802.11n

Another BigFoot sighting...

PCWorld compared an Intel Centrino Advanced-N 6230 to a Qualcomm Killer Wireless-N 1202 using two distinct benchmarks. The first of the tests, a ping and jitter assessment written by Qualcomm, claimed a significant win (2ms vs Intel's 4-8ms) for Killer between laptop and router. The second test measured bandwidth where Qualcomm matched or sometimes doubled Intel's performance except in close range 5GHz scenarios; Intel won, in those cases, by about a factor of two.

killer-logo.png

Of course, a difference of 2-to-6ms is low for online games. I would imagine those who are genuinely concerned about latency, especially during a LAN Party, would not settle for any form of wireless solution much less plan ahead for it. That could be just my perspective, however; I almost never consider Wi-Fi adapters because I will immediately hunt for an Ethernet jack.

That said, Qualcomm is apparently selling these adapters for prices very comparable to Intel. According to these benchmarks, grains of salt added to taste, Killer would not be a downgrade for a gaming device and should be considered if presented to you. The only time it clearly lost is high speed data transfers at 5GHz less than 10 feet away.

Seriously, Ethernet, keep one in your laptop bag. Magic.

If curious about a purchase, check out the benchmarks (or just skip 802.11n and look for 802.11ac or .11ad equipment); if curious for entertainment, check out Ryan's review of the original, wired, Killer NIC.

Source: PCWorld

Amped Wireless Launches RTA15 802.11ac Wi-Fi Router

Subject: General Tech | July 9, 2013 - 03:29 AM |
Tagged: networking, gigabit ethernet, Amped Wireless, 802.11ac

Amped Wireless has launched its new RTA15 wireless router. Featuring 802.11ac wireless technology, the RTA15 is packed with useful features and is coming later this month for $189.99.

Amped Wireless RTA15 ac router.png

The Amped Wireless RTA15 is a wireless router with 802.11n and 802.11ac radios which can operate simultaneously. It packs in five Gigabit Ethernet ports (one WAN, four LAN), a USB port for sharing storage to networked devices, high gain antennas, ten radio signal amplifiers, an unnamed 660MHz processor, and support for a number of management and parental controls.

Amped Wireless RTA15 ac router ports.png

On the wireless front, the RTA15 supports 300Mbps 802.11n on the 2.4GHz band and 867Mbps 802.11ac on the 5GHz band. In addition to your home wireless network, the router supports up to eight additional guest networks (which can have various restrictions placed upon them). Amped Wireless packed in two 700mW 2.4GHz amplifiers, four (two stage) 5GHz 700mW amplifiers, and four low noise amps to improve signal strength and wireless range. Further, the router includes one 5dBi antenna for the 2.4GHz radio, one 5dBi antenna for the 5GHz radio, and a single dual band antenna.

Amped Wireless RTA15 ac router_back.png

Other features of the 802.11ac router include website blocking, user and time schedules, a SPI firewall, adjustable radio power output. It also supports WPS and IPv6 for those networks that need either (or both) features.

The router is up for pre-order now on the Amped Wireless website. The RTA15 will begin shipping on July 16, 2013 for $189.99.

Surface Pro Has Ethernet... Surface RT Does Not.

Subject: General Tech, Networking, Mobile | July 6, 2013 - 03:31 AM |
Tagged: windows rt, Surface RT, reverse-consolitis

It is a good thing that Windows RT is not always online, because you would be pretty screwed if you did not have access to a wireless network. To compensate for a lack of ethernet, users can typically plug in a USB to wired internet dongle; this is even possible with consoles such as the Wii. Microsoft makes one such accessory for their line of Surface tablets.

But just the Pro ones.

wii-lan.png

Wow, if only my PC was as open as my console...

Paul Thurrott even tried a handful of third-party adapters to similar, depressing, results on both Windows RT RTM. While the ability to attach your device to a wired high-speed internet jack is niche nowadays, mostly for users of HD video conferencing and certain hotels, it highlights the gigantic problem with Windows RT and other consumer tablet OSes: there will be some things you wish that your device did that it simply will not be able to do.

I guess pack a travel router?

Computex 2013: ASUS Keynote -- Transformer Pad Infinity, FonePad Note, MEMO Pad HD7, VivoPC, Router RT-AC68U, Transformer Book Trio

Subject: General Tech, Networking, Systems, Mobile, Shows and Expos | June 3, 2013 - 04:20 AM |
Tagged: computex, asus

ASUS wants to kick off Computex with a barrage of product announcements. Seriously, there were 6 products announced in the span of 20 minutes with no two product from the same category. Devices range from tablets and convertibles to routers and mice.

ASUS-Computex-01.jpg

The company started off with the new Transformer Pad Infinity. This updates their line of separable hybrid laptop/tablets with NVIDIA Tegra 4.

Raw specifications:

  • NVIDIA Tegra 4 SoC
  • 2560x1600 10.1-inch display
  • USB 3.0, Bluetooth, 4K out via HDMI
  • 6MP (I think, could be 16MP) rear, 1.2 MP front cameras

ASUS-Computex-02.jpg

Up next was the FonePad Note. A page from Samsung's playbook, both in name and in functionality, the FonePad is a 6" phone with a stylus pen. Coming off our recent Samsung Galaxy Tab 3 10.1 story, this device will also be powered by an Intel Atom Z2560 SoC. These could be the start of many high-profile design wins for Intel.

Raw specifications:

  • Intel Atom Z2560 SoC
  • 2GB RAM
  • 6" 1080p SuperIPS+ display, thin border
  • 8MP rear, 1.2MP front cameras
  • Front-facing stereo speakers
  • Stylus Pen

ASUS-Computex-03.jpg

And then we get the MEMO Pad HD7. This 7-inch 1280x800 HD tablet is designed to be cheap. It will be available for $149 in 16GB capacity for America, and a smaller $129 8GB version for emerging markets.

Raw specifications:

  • ARM Cortex A7 quad-core SoC
  • 7-inch 1280x800 HD IPS display (10-point multitouch)
  • 5MP rear, 1.2MP front cameras
  • Bluetooth, GPS, stereo speakers
  • (starting at?) 16GB ($149) USA, 8GB ($129) emerging markets

ASUS-Computex-04.jpg

We briefly leave mobile devices to head towards a desktop computer. The VivoPC is designed to be easily upgraded, "Just lift the lid and replace the harddrive and memory". This is being positioned as a home theater PC running Windows 8. We currently have no further specifications.

Raw Specifications:

  • 802.11ac
  • It's got a lid?

ASUS-Computex-05.jpg

And of course, with the discussion of an 802.11ac device we clearly need to move on to routers. The ASUS Router RT-AC68U, while a slight bit literal of a name, is supposedly the first dual-band 802.11ac Router. I am not exactly sure what the second band would be, but I am only the messenger. Regardless, this router is apparently capable of performance up to 1.9 Gigabits per second.

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And then we cannot have all of these HTPC devices without an input method, can we? Enter the ASUS VivoMouse. This device allows you to more comfortably control your PC from your couch, as far as I can tell.

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Last, but with a bang, ASUS announced the Transformer Book Trio. As you can guess, the Trio name comes from its three form factors being wrapped up into a single product: it's a notebook, a tablet, and a desktop PC. Do not worry, I will not make an iPhone announcement keynote joke; that one has already been well overplayed.

The trick is that the Trio is actually two fully functional computers with one running Android and the other Window 8. Both devices are powered by an x86 Intel-based processor, however: the main PC runs a Core i7-4500U processor and the tablet runs an Atom Z2580.

A main selling feature is that, when base is separated from screen, both devices are simultaneously useable. If you attach the base to an external monitor it will function like a desktop PC.

Raw specifications:

  • Intel Core i7-4500U (base), Intel Atom Z2580 (tablet)
  • Full HD multitouch IPS display
  • Windows 8 (base), Android Jelly Bean (screen)
  • 1TB HDD (base), 64GB flash (screen)
  • Fully compatible with Google Play and Windows Stores

Well, that's it. We will probably have a bit more analysis coming up soon. But, for now, I need to get off of Taipei time.

Source: ASUS

New Quantenna QSR1000 Chip Will Power 802.11ac Devices, Delivers Up To 1.7Gbps Throughput

Subject: Networking | May 28, 2013 - 03:21 PM |
Tagged: wi-fi, quantenna, qsr1000, mu-mimo, 802.11ac

Quantenna, has announced a new 802.11ac QSR1000 chip that is capable of delivering up to 1.7Gbps throughput. The new chip achieves the wireless throughput by supporting a combination of Multi-User MIMO, four spatial streams, 256-QAM modulation, and beamforming technology. More information on 802.11ac and the related technologies can be found here.

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The Quantenna chip is a competitor to Broadcom's offerings and it is intended for use in wireless routers, access points, Set Top Boxes (STB), and other consumer electronics gear. It is the first "wave 2" (second iteration of the 802.11ac specification) 802.11ac chip, and is the fastest so far. Quantenna was able to get a theoretical max of 435.2Mbps of throughput per spatial stream, which is pretty impressive. Unfortunately, client devices (computers, smartphones, tablets, et al) will also have to support the MU-MIMO technology and have the hardware to transmit and receive multiple streams to take full advantage of the 1.7Gbps max throughput.

There is no word on which upcoming wireless devices the Quantenna chip will be used in, but the company is making the new QSR1000 chip available to manufacturers as early as Q3 of this year. Actual routers and other gear using the chip and widely available to consumers will likely not hit the market until early next year, however.

Source: Quantenna

PowerCloud Systems Kickstarting New Skydog Router With Intuitive Management Software

Subject: Networking | April 15, 2013 - 02:28 AM |
Tagged: skydog, gigabit router, 5GHz wifi

A new piece of networking hardware from PowerCloud Systems recently emerged on popular crowd-funding site Kickstarter. Aimed at consumers, the Skydog router is paired with a web interface and mobile application that makes managing your home network extremely accessible.

The Skydog router hardware itself has already passed regulatory certifications, and the super early bird backers will each get one of 250 pre-production units. The router features five Gigabit Ethernet ports (one port is for the WAN), a USB port, and a dual-band 802.11n Wi-Fi radio. The Wi-Fi radio can operate on the 2.4GHz and 5GHz bands simultaneously, and has a maximum rated throughput of 300Mbps per band. The router chassis measures 17 x 11 x 2.5cm and includes a number of blue indicator LEDs on the top-front edge. The USB port is not currently supported, but is there for future feature updates.

The Skydog Router and Accompanying Web and Mobile application for network management.jpg

Where Skydog differentiates itself from the crowd is in the software. After connecting the router to your modem and computers, you can log into the web interface. It will prompt you for either a Google or Skydog account, and then will reportedly automatically configure itself. The software supports Quality of Service (QoS) features that will allow you to prioritize certain traffic and/or to give bandwidth priority to certain users. The web interface will show you network statistics, connected devices, device signal strength, track and notify users of network issues (for example, the internet going down) via the Skydog mobile app, and track and restrict the websites users visit. Further, the administrator can set up schedules on a per-user basis. The schedules can restrict usage by approved time slices and by bandwidth limits. It will notify users when they are approaching the allotted time or bandwidth limit via the mobile app. Real time notifications include ISP connection issues, guests requesting access to the network, and the above-mentioned bandwidth limit notifications.

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According to the Kickstarter FAQ, the Skydog Home Network (which consists of the router and management software) will cost approximately $149 for three years or $199 for five years without a monthly fee.  The wording suggests that a model with a lower hardware cost but monthly charge might also be available. The cloud service is a bit worrisome, and I'm not sure if I like the idea of essentially renting the router via monthly or yearly fees. This router is not going to be for everyone, but it does have some useful and inventive features for families. This would be a router that I could see the various ISPs offering up as a rental device and that I might set up for my friends or relatives with kids so that they could easily manage the network and restrict the kids access to certain times of the day and age appropriate sites.

With 29 days left in the Kickstarter, the project has 543 backers, and $51,905 pledged of the 75,000 goal. It certainly looks like it is going to be funded, and I hope that the Kickstarter leads to a successful retail product launch.

Source: Kickstarter

Qualcomm & MSI Announce Killer Z77 Motherboard.

Subject: General Tech, Networking, Motherboards | March 5, 2013 - 03:01 AM |
Tagged: qualcomm, msi, killer nic, Intel Z77

MSI says “JUST GAME!”... but... I must write up their announcement first...

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The computer components company would like us to “JUST GAME!” on their gaming motherboards, of course. This press release is for the MSI Killer Z77 gaming motherboard. The board supports the DDR3-3000, Creative Sound Blaster Cinema with Crystalizer, OC Genie II, and Military Class III initiatives.

But to call yourself Killer, you got some big shoes to fill.

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Yes MSI, we get it. Challenge accepted.

What makes it a “Killer” announcement is the addition of a Killer E2200 LAN chip from Qualcomm's Bigfoot Networks. We have a fair amount of experience with the gamer networking hardware company; Ryan wrote a review all the way back in 2006. Since then, the company found themselves scooped up by Qualcomm where they found their technology integrated into motherboards from various manufacturers. They have also dabbled into wireless technology.

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MSI proclaims with the E2200 LAN chip, their motherboard will have to use less space to house the chip when compared to the earlier Killer E2100. Also, for users running Windows 8, the E2200 was designed to support that operating system. Linux gamers? You too, but not until the second half of 2013.

If you want to see what the PR people have to say, check out Qualcomm's blog post.

Source: Qualcomm

Linaro Forms Linux Networking Group to Collaborate on Open Source Software for ARM Networking Hardware

Subject: General Tech | February 22, 2013 - 02:16 AM |
Tagged: oss, open source, networking, linux networking group, linux, linaro, arm

Linaro, a non-profit engineering group, announced a new collaborative organization called the Linux Networking Group at the Embedded Linux Conference in San Francisco this week. The new group will work on developing open source software to be used with ARM-based hardware in cloud, mobile, and networking industry sectors. Of course, being open source, the software for ARM SoCs will be used with Linux operating systems. One of the Linux Networking Group’s purposes is to develop a new “enhanced core Linux platform” for networking equipment, for example.

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The new Linux Networking Group is currently comprised of the following organizations:

  • AppliedMicro
  • ARM
  • Enea
  • Freescale
  • LSI
  • MontaVista
  • Nokia Siemens Networks
  • Texas Instruments

The new cooperative has announced four main goals for 2013:

  1. "Virtualization support with considerations for real-time performance, I/O optimization, robustness and heterogeneous operating environments on multi-core SoCs.
  2. Real-time operations and the Linux kernel optimizations for the control and data plane.
  3. Packet processing optimizations that maximize performance and minimize latency in data flows through the network.
  4. Dealing with legacy software and mixed-endian issues prevalent in the networking space."

Reportedly, Linaro will have an initial software release within the first half of this year. Further, the organization will follow up with monthly software updates to improve performance and add new features. More collaboration and the furthering of ARM-compatible open source software is always a good thing. It remains to be seen how useful the Linux Networking Group will be in pushing its ARM software goals, but here’s hoping it works out for the best.

The full press release can be found below.

Source: Linaro