Subject: Networking | November 14, 2015 - 06:07 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 - 10:00 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.
The Killer 1535 Wi-Fi adapter was the first 2x2 MU-MIMO compatible adapter on the market when it launched earlier this year, and is only found in a few products right now. We had a chance to test it out with the recently reviewed MSI G72 Dominator Pro G-Sync laptop, using the new Linksys EA8500 MU-MIMO router. How did it perform, and just what is MU-MIMO? Read on to find out!
Killer networks certainly haven’t skimped on the hardware with their new wireless adapter, as the Wireless-AC 1535 features two external 5 GHz signal amplifiers and is 802.11ac Wave 2 compliant with its support for MU-MIMO and Transmit Beamforming. And while the adapter itself certainly sounds impressive the real star here – besides the MU-MIMO support – is the Killer software. With these two technologies Killer has a unique product on the market, and if it works as advertised it would create an attractive alternative to the typical Wi-Fi solution.
MU-MIMO: What is it?
With an increasing number of devices using Wi-Fi in the average connected home the strain on a wireless network can often be felt. Just as one download can bring your internet connection to a crawl, one computer can hog nearly all available bandwidth from your router. MU-MIMO offers a solution to the network limitations of a typical multi-user home, and in fact the MU in MU-MIMO stands for Multi-User. The technology is part of the Wave 2 spec for 802.11ac, and it works differently than standard MIMO (multiple input, multiple output) technology. What’s the difference?
With standard MIMO (also known as Single-User MIMO) compatible devices take advantage of multiple data streams that are propagated to provide faster data than would otherwise be available for a single device. Multiple antennas on both base station and the client device are used to create the multiple transmit/receive streams needed for the added bandwidth. The multiple antennas used in MIMO systems create multiple channels, allowing for those separate data streams, and the number of streams is equal to the number of antennas (1x1 supports one stream, 2x2 supports two streams, etc.).
Subject: Networking | September 2, 2015 - 11:00 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 - 11:17 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 - 04:00 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 - 07:52 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.
Introduction: This Is Not a NAS
The new WSS NAS series from Thecus contains some very interesting devices, and particularly so at the entry-level price with the unit we’re looking at today. WSS is the abbreviation for Windows Storage Server (in this case it’s 2012 R2), and this provides a huge increase in functionality compared to a standard NAS, as you might imagine.
Need a server? Just add a keyboard, mouse, and monitor
It’s really quite remarkable what Thecus is doing in partnership with Microsoft here in terms of value, as this entry 2-bay unit costs just $350. While this may seem high for a dual-bay NAS, we really aren’t talking about a NAS at all with this - which will be readily apparent to the user upon first powering it up. We are talking about a full-scale server here, replete with Windows Server 2012 R2 Essentials goodness. Of course a savvy user could easily deploy a small server in a home or office, and there are many advantages to managed solutions beyond the simple NAS appliances. But the advantage of a NAS is just that: it is significantly less complex and accessible for a consumer. The W2000 presents a very interesting option due to one particular aspect of its own accessibility: price. At $350 you are getting a very compact server with internal hardware much more akin to a standard desktop than you might imagine, and it ships installed with Microsoft's Windows Storage Server 2012 R2 Essentials.
What is “Storage” Server Essentials?
Ok, so I was a little confused as to the specific difference with the Storage version of the Server OS, unless it was simply a licensing distinction. My research first brought me to this quote from Microsoft:
“Windows Storage Server 2012 R2 Essentials is based on Windows Server 2012 R2. In fact, when it comes to functionality, you get key some features that aren’t included in these first two editions.”
After looking through the available documentation it appears as though Storage Server Essentials is, essentially, just Server Essentials with the distinction of being licensed differently. Microsoft TechNet defines it further:
“A computer that runs Windows Storage Server is referred to as a storage appliance. Windows Storage Server is based on the Windows Server operating system, and it is specifically optimized for use with network-attached storage devices. Windows Storage Server offers you a platform to build storage appliances that are customized for your hardware.”
Subject: General Tech, Networking | January 28, 2015 - 01:45 AM | 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 - 12:30 PM | 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!