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Subject: Networking | November 17, 2015 - 12:56 PM | Tim Verry
Tagged: nitroQAM, mu-mimo, gigabit router, broadcom, asuswrt, asus, 802.11ac
Asus has officially launched the RT-AC5300, a massive
replicator tri-band wireless router. The new router is fenced in by eight large antennas that allow the device to support 4 x 4 MU-MIMO wireless on two 5 GHz and one 2.4 GHz bands.
The menacing high-end wireless router supports the latest wired and wireless consumer networking technologies and runs the AsusWRT firmware. The RT-AC5300 is clad in black with red accents. The top of the router is mesh to facilitate cooling. In addition to the eight antennas, there are five gigabit Ethernet ports (up to two ports can be configured as WAN ports), a USB 3.0 port, one USB 2.0 port, and physical buttons for WPS, Wi-Fi, and LED on/off.
Powered by a Broadcom chipset, the router supports 802.11ac as well as older N/G/B Wi-Fi standards. Using NitroQAM technology, the two 5 GHz bands each support up to 2,167 Mbps speeds while the 2.4 GHz band tops out at 1,000 Mbps. This is a boost over the usual 1,734 Mbps for 5 GHz and 600 Mbps for 2.4 GHz wireless bandwidth numbers. Asus claims that the router can run all three bands simultaneously along with beamforming to improve the signal to devices by focusing the signal. Note that the combined advertised "5334 Mbps" of the router includes all three bands but a single device would max out at the 2,167 Mbps theoretical maximum of a single band. The router is capable of automatically figuring out and using the optimal band to communicate with each device based on its capabilities and signal strength.
When it comes to wired connections, the router has four 1 Gbps LAN ports. It also supports 802.3ad link aggregation which allows using two of the gigabit ports to create a single 2 Gbps link to supported devices like network attached storage (NAS) and workstations.
Asus is using ASUSWRT firmware along with AiRadar beamforming, AiProtect security, and a subscription to WTFast GPN which is a service aimed at gamers that reportedly delivers decreased pings and lower latency connections to game servers.
Pricing and availability have not been announced, but CNET is reporting an expected price of $400 USD.
To say that this router is overkill for most is an understatement, but it is packed with features and is ready to stream a Stargate SG-1 marathon to all your devices!
Subject: Networking | November 14, 2015 - 01:07 AM | Tim Verry
Tagged: synology, 802.11ac, 256-QAM, mu-mimo, 3x3, gigabit router, wireless router
Synology, a company best known for its home and small office network attached storage (NAS) devices, is branching out with its first wireless router. The Synology Router RT1900ac is a high end 802.11ac Wi-Fi enabled router that is paired with some rather slick looking and useful software.
The RT1900ac supports the latest consumer grade networking tech including 802.11ac MU-MIMO (beam forming to up to six devices), 802.11n 256-QAM, and wired Gigabit Ethernet. The 5GHz band tops out at 1300 Mbps while the 2.4GHz “N” band tops out at 600 Mbps though note that a single device cannot use the combined “1900” Mbps bandwidth and even then inter-device links are limited to gigabit speeds or less.
The rear of the router hosts five Gigabit Ethernet ports (1 WAN, 4 LAN) and three physical antennas which means a max of 3x3 MIMO to wireless devices. The left side of the router hosts a WPS (wireless protected setup) button and a physical Wi-Fi on/off switch while the right side of the router features a single USB 3.0 port and a SD card reader.
Internally, the router is powered by a dual core processor running at 1 GHz paired with 256 MB of DDR3 memory. Synology rates the router at a maximum of 70 connected devices with as many as 40 concurrently transmitting data.
The operating system is called the Synology Router Manager and it can be accessed via a web interface or a mobile app called DS Router for Android and iOS.
Users are able to access the router using a GUI interface that is reminiscent of other Synology software. It supports parental controls (website blocking, scheduling, ect), application layer quality of service (QoS) on a per-device level, traffic management and bandwidth monitoring (per device as well as total bandwidth used). Users are able to initially setup the router using a web interface or the mobile app to guide them through setup.
The USB port (and SDXC card slot) can be used to share files and stream media to other devices. They can also be used to share a printer over the network or enable a mobile hotspot using a cellular modem dongle.
Interestingly, users can add additional software to their router from Synology. Optional applications from Synology’s Package Center allow using the router as a VPN, torrent box, RADIUS authentication server, DNS server, file share, and media server. Being able to extend the functionality of the router is nice to see and should be popular with enthusiasts though it does raise some security concerns.
This new router will be on display at CES 2016 and will be available in the US early next year for $150.
I’m interested to see the reviews on this as it certainly looks nice and the software looks much better than most!
Subject: Networking | October 9, 2015 - 06:00 PM | Sebastian Peak
Tagged: wireless router, RT-AC88U, router, mu-mimo, asus, 802.11ac, 8-port switch
ASUS has announced an impressive new MU-MIMO wireless router that provides up to 3100 Mbps of Wi-Fi bandwidth, and the RT-AC88U also features an 8-port Gigabit Ethernet switch.
- WLAN: 802.11a/b/g/n/ac with MU-MIMO
- Data rate: 3100 Mbps
- Chipset: BCM47094, BCM4366, BCM4366
- Flash: NAND 128 MB
- RAM: DDR3 256/512 MB
- WAN: GbE x 1
- LAN: GbE x 8
- Giga switch: 8365
- PA: 2G:sky2623 5G:sky85405
- LNA: 2G: BGU7224/LXS5563 5G:MAAL011078
- Antenna: Detachable dual band x 4
- USB: 3.0 x1, 2.0 x1
- Applications: ASUSWRT, AiCloud, AiProtection, high-power mode, Download Master, VPN server, guest network, DLNA server, automatic IP, Static IP, PPPoE (MPPE support), PPTP, L2TP, IPv4, IPv6
Pricing and availability are not yet known.
Subject: Networking | September 2, 2015 - 07:00 AM | Sebastian Peak
Tagged: RT-AC5300U, router, mu-mimo, IFA 2015, dual band, asus, 802.11ac
This is a seriously imposing-looking router, and the specs are just as huge.
Here are some highlights from ASUS:
- AC5300 speeds
- Tri-band wireless up to 1000 Mbit/s on 2.4 GHz and up to 2167 Mbit/s on each 5 GHz band
- Up to 5333 Mbit/s combined on the 5GHz band
- NitroQAM technology for low-latency gaming and 4K/UHD streaming
- Eight external antennas in a 4x4 config
- Ultra-wide area coverage
- Award-winning ASUS AiProtection Network Security Services
5333 Mbps on the 5 GHz band alone? So how does the RT-AC5300U router provide so much bandwidth? It’s powered by a staggering array of radios! Looking at the chipset specs we that it’s comprised of BCM4709 + BCM4366 (2.4 GHz) + 2x BCM4366 (5 GHz), with 256MB DDR3 memory and 128MB of flash. And we can’t forget the 8 external dual-band antennas! Yes, eight. Truly, this is a beast (though it looks like an overturned spider).
Pricing and exact availability were not revealed, but ASUS says it will be coming in Q4 2015.
Subject: Networking | July 5, 2015 - 07:17 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: ipv6, ipv4, arin
While the IP system allows for about 4.3 billion addresses, not all of those are available to actual devices. There are some that are designed for private network use, so a router can assign them without worrying that it is blocking traffic to some external resource. Another big drain was wasted addresses, where organizations would purchase a big chunk of the public address space and use a tiny fraction of it. Beyond that, we just have a lot of devices, from cell phones, to home networks, to the servers they contact. Microsoft is trying to reach a billion devices with Windows 10, and the vast majority of them are expected to be online.
I'm mentioning it now because the American Registry for Internet Numbers (ARIN) announced that they will be unable to fulfill some requests for IPv4 blocks. All they have left at the moment are /23 and /24 chunks, which are bundles of 512 and 256 public addresses. As of the time of publishing, 46 chunks of 512 and 431 chunks of 256 are available, which is 133,888 total public numbers.
Of course, it's not as simple as saying “let's move to IPv6 then”. There will be some pain when the switch happens. For instance, Unreal Engine 4 has only been IPv6-compliant for a year, with the launch of Unreal Engine 4.2 in June 2014. This poses a significant problem for older games that rely upon IPv4 addresses for multiplayer, and that doesn't even consider other online software.
Subject: Networking, Shows and Expos | June 2, 2015 - 12:00 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: msi, killer nic, killer, computex 2015, computex, 802.11ac
Killer Networking has developed several networking solutions, focused on gamers, over the last decade or so. Ryan reviewed their first product way back in 2006, and he found it had some merit but struggled when quantifying it, especially to the price tag that it bore. Many years later, Qualcomm picked them up and their technology found a few design wins, especially with Gigabyte motherboards. They also branched out into wireless networking, a segment that undeniably could benefit from innovation. They are also, now, under the Rivet Networks brand, which is listed as an “Authorized Design Center” for Qualcomm.
Today, they are announcing the Killer Wireless-AC 1535 Networking Adapter. This brings their technology to the 802.11ac standard. It includes features like DoubleShow Pro, which allows Windows to balance network traffic between wireless and wired networks. It also allows the user to monitor their wireless traffic, even providing an interface to throttle or outright disable certain applications from using the internet. They are mostly promoting their “ExtremeRange” technology, which uses the MU-MIMO standard of 802.11ac, along with beamforming and two signal amplifiers, to provide high bandwidth at longer ranges.
The Killer Wireless-AC 1535 has received a few design wins, this time with MSI. It will be available in the MSI GT72 and MSI GT80 gaming laptops, as well as the MSI X99A GODLIKE GAMING motherboard. Thankfully, they are not adopting MSI's love of uppercase letters.
Subject: Networking | April 13, 2015 - 03:52 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: asus, router, 802.11ac, rt-a66r, rt-a66u
Until recently, we have been using a Linksys WRT54G. No, not the WRT54GL. We have been using the cheap, $30 v8.0 unit with 8MB of RAM. Since it has been eight years since its manufacturing date, and about the same length of time since it received a firmware upgrade, we decided to upgrade to a newer model. After searching for a while, we settled on the ASUS RT-AC66. We bought it from a retail store, because it was the same price and I could get it the same day without paying for shipping, so our model has an “R” suffix, rather than the direct-from-ASUS “U”. The units are identical besides the model name though.
We are using the stock ASUS firmware.
So what has happened in the last half-dozen years? First, this device has quite a few more features than the Linksys, although not many are applicable to me personally. The most interesting to me is that ASUS offers a dynamic DNS service for their routers. It seems pretty straight-forward honestly. I was looking for a place to register, but it seems like it was just a matter of inputting the desired URL into the router, and ASUS will give it to you if it is available. I was able to use the subdomain within a few minutes too, although I did not try doing much with it.
Its 2.4 GHz range is pretty good too, much wider than the WRT54G. The 5.0 GHz makes it from the basement to the TV on the main floor. It reports less than full signal, but I have nothing to compare that with (neither a second 5.0 GHz device nor another 5.0GHz router). The antenna are detachable and higher sensitive versions are available, which is probably good for edge cases, although the default ones seem to work fine for me.
It definitely seems like a good router. I don't feel it getting in-between me and my internet connection. This is not a review though, just my impressions after using it for a bit.
Subject: General Tech, Networking | January 27, 2015 - 08:45 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: wifi, FCC
Because blocking a person's mobile hotspot so you can charge them to use your Wi-Fi is a completely jerk thing to do. The FCC has just released a warning to any individuals, groups, or businesses considering these measures that blocking Wi-Fi is illegal. This follows the decision in October to fine Marriott, the hotel chain, $600,000 for blocking personal networks in a Tennessee location.
Now who's blowing the Raspberry?
Marriott, despite paying the fine, asked the commission to consider writing an official rule on this practice. They just did. It is illegal. The blocks of spectrum belonging to wireless internet are unlicensed, and thus no particular entity is apparently allowed to claim ownership over it, even in their geographic property.
It seems like a good decision to me, one that I cannot think of any immediate side-effects for, but this is one of those cases that a problem could be hiding in plain sight. What do you think? Am I missing something? Or is this a win for everyone (except those trying to block competing services)?
Subject: General Tech, Networking | January 6, 2015 - 07:30 AM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: tp-link, powerline networking, networking, ces 2015, CES
Powerline networks are not the most popular, especially with advancements in wireless technology, but they are still being actively developed. TP-LINK specifically mentions a few use cases: going through cement or certain soundproof walls, going across metal beams and studs, and going further than is practical under FCC broadcast power limits.
Today at CES, TP-LINK has announced the TL-PA8030 AV1200 Gigabit Powerline networking adapter. This product differentiates itself from previous offerings with “HomePlug AV2 MIMO”, which is an acronym that is normally applied to wireless technology with multiple antennas. It is basically the same thing in this case, because the adapter uses all three prongs.
Basically, how electrical sockets work is that you have two main prongs, one of which has an alternating voltage applied to it that averages out to about ~115V RMS over a cycle (relative to the other prong). When that wire is connected to a second one, at whatever is considered “neutral” voltage, it creates an electrical current with that drop (or rise) in voltage. A third plug, which is held at the ground's voltage, takes away any excess buildup from friction, wires that are shorted to the case, and so forth.
For this product, this means that one connection will be on the same circuit as a high-voltage, 60Hz signal, and the other will be mixed with ground noise. Keep in mind, the alternative to powerline networking is broadcasting on unregulated, wireless spectrum, so humanity is not afraid to send a signal through some nasty noise. Still, it is good to stop and think about what these engineers have been able to accomplish: broadcasting two signals, down two really nasty (and in different ways) circuits, and combine them for increased performance with multiple devices.
This out of the way, the specifications themselves are brief: it is three Gigabit (1.2 Gbps total) network connections that communicate through A/C plugs. It is backwards compatible with older TP-LINK HomePlug AV adapters (AV1000, AV600, AV500, AV200, and of course other AV1200s).
No pricing information, but TP-LINK is targeting Q3 2015 for this AV1200.
Follow all of our coverage of the show at http://pcper.com/ces!
Subject: General Tech, Networking | January 6, 2015 - 07:30 AM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: tp-link, router, ces 2015, CES, archer, 802.11ac
While yesterday's TP-LINK Archer C2600 and C3200 routers were designed for multiple devices, this one seems a bit more targeted at fewer, but still high-performance connections. The TP-LINK Archer C9 router can operate on one, 5 GHz block and one, 2.4 GHz chunk at the same time (versus the two 5.0 GHz and one 2.4 GHz distribution of the C3200).
A bit more specifications have been released, compared to the C2600 and C3200. A 1GHz, dual-core processor will perform the back-end computation to send the data where it needs to go. It will also have one USB 3.0 port (side) and one USB 2.0 port (rear), which are used to network-attach printers and storage.
The TP-LINK Archer C9 AC1900 dual band router is available now for $169.99 USD.
Follow all of our coverage of the show at http://pcper.com/ces!
Subject: General Tech, Networking | January 5, 2015 - 09:33 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: D-Link, CES, ces 2015, powerline networking
Yesterday, D-Link announced two new gigabit-class powerline networking adapters. Powerline networking, which sends a signal between A/C outlets, is for users who want high-bandwidth connections in places that WiFi does not reach and running a cable is out of the question. The SKUs are basically identical, except that the DHP-601AV has a maximum rated bandwidth of 1,000 Mbps, while the DHP-701AV can go up to 2,000 Mbps... sort of.
You see, unless I am completely misreading the specifications, the only way into this device is a single Gigabit Ethernet socket. The technical difference is that the higher-end model can use the ground plug as a network path, presumably balancing between the “two powered” and the “one power, one ground” circuits based on line quality. That is interesting technology that will help in situations where a gigabit link cannot normally be maintained on a two-prong network but, if it is behind a gigabit bottleneck, that is kind-of not right to advertise, isn't it?
Again, I could be wrong, but the specs seem to claim one, single-socket, Gigabit Ethernet plug.
As for pricing and availability, D-Link does not disappoint. The D-Link AV2 PowerLine Starter Kits will be available in Q1 of this year. The DHP-701AV has an MSRP of $129.99 while the DHP-601AV is set at $79.99.
Follow all of our coverage of the show at http://pcper.com/ces!
Subject: General Tech, Networking | January 5, 2015 - 07:35 AM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: tp-link, router, ces 2015, CES, 802.11ac
At some point, routers have stopped becoming a pure commodity device. Some manufacturers are differentiating themselves based on CPU performance or available RAM, while others compete on software features. In this case, TP-LINK is introducing two routers: one with four antennas, and the other with six. They are both designed around connection quality for multiple devices that are communicating simultaneously.
TP-LINK Archer C2600
The Archer C2600 is the four-antenna product that uses Qualcomm MU-MIMO EFX, which can connect to three devices at once. TP-LINK states that the platform can establish four connections, but they are reserving the fourth to assist the other three by somehow reducing interference. They do not provide details about their specific process (whether it's constructive interference, choose the best signal, etc.) and I do not have a deep understanding of practical implementations in this area.
TP-LINK Archer C3200
The Archer C3200 is the six-antenna SKU that can operate on three bands simultaneously. Rather than sharing a single chunk of the 5.0 GHz spectrum, or dropping some devices down to 2.4 GHz, it can manage two segments of 5.0 GHz simultaneously (and a third at 2.4 GHz). As the number of connected devices increase, the router will automatically assign them to the best block.
Both routers also include Gigabit Ethernet for wired networks, and USB 3.0 ports (they do not state how many) to attach storage to. The C3200 advertises “Substantial RAM” without providing any hard numbers.
No pricing information is currently provided, but they are expected to be available in Q3 2015.
Follow all of our coverage of the show at http://pcper.com/ces!
Subject: Networking | December 15, 2014 - 12:46 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
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.
"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."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- A Walkthrough Of The New 32 System Open-Source Linux Benchmarking Test Farm @ Phoronix
- Are we ready to let software run the data centre? @ The Register
- How Identifiable Are You On the Web? @ Slashdot
- Google vows: Earth will VANISH in 2015 @ The Register
- Gift Your Next Robot With the Brain of a Roundworm @ Hack a Day
- Tech ARP 2014 Mega Giveaway Contest @ TechARP
Subject: General Tech, Networking | October 11, 2014 - 01:42 AM | Tim Verry
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.
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.
Subject: General Tech, Networking, Mobile | September 15, 2014 - 02:24 AM | Scott Michaud
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.
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.
Subject: General Tech, Networking, Processors | September 8, 2014 - 12:29 PM | Scott Michaud
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.
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.
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.
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).
If it works as advertised, it could be a win for customers who buy into the Intel ecosystem.
Subject: General Tech, Networking | September 2, 2014 - 08:31 AM | Scott Michaud
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.
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.
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.
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.
Subject: Networking | August 14, 2014 - 11:47 PM | Tim Verry
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).
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).
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!
Subject: General Tech, Networking, Systems, Shows and Expos | April 8, 2014 - 03:26 PM | Scott Michaud
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.
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".
Subject: Networking | March 12, 2014 - 07:56 PM | Tim Verry
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.
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 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.