ICANN not update the root KSK system on schedule

Subject: General Tech | September 29, 2017 - 12:53 PM |
Tagged: icann, bind, dns, ksk, networking, security

ICANN have had to delay their planned upgrade to the root key signing keys used by DNS thanks to between 5-8% of key validators lacking the new KSK key.  If a validator only possess the 2010 key, they would no longer be able to resolve DNS properly and the vast majority of the internet would disappear for stuck on the old system.  The Register points out that the problem will actually be much larger as ICANN assumed that everyone has updated to the newest version of BIND DNS database, and only scanned those validators using the newest version. 

The reason for the update is to increase the length of the root KSK that DNS depends on, which will greatly increase the security of anyone surfing the net and to help move this forward ICANN will be publishing a list of those out of date validators in the hopes publicity will spur them to upgrade.  As with IPv6, we will wait and see.

dnskeyen.PNG

"A multi-year effort to update the internet's overall security has been put on hold just days before it was due to be introduced, over fears that as many as 60 million people could be forced offline."

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Source: The Register

Linksys Announces WRT32X Gaming Router with Killer Prioritization Engine

Subject: General Tech | August 22, 2017 - 12:00 AM |
Tagged: WRT32X, router, networking, linksys, Killer Prioritization Engine, Killer Networking, gaming, AC3200

Linksys has announced a router that they say is 'built purely for gaming' with the WRT32X, an AC3200 router with a 1.8 GHz dual-core processor and built-in Killer Prioritization Engine.

WRT32X.jpg

"The WRT32X takes gaming to the next level. The router built purely for gaming features AC3200 speed and the Killer Prioritization Engine. The Killer Prioritization Engine identifies, prioritizes and accelerates gaming network traffic above all other devices in your home to deliver a faster, superior gaming experience. The Killer-enabled WRT32X also synchronizes with Killer-enabled PCs to give gaming traffic the highest priority on your network. Turning the Killer Engine on protects from extreme lag spikes and reduces lag by 77%, delivering consistent and superior reaction time during intense gaming scenarios."

Linksys lists the features of the WRT32X as follows:

  • 1.8 GHz CPU: Dual-Core promotes simultaneous high-speed data processing.
  • Pro-grade Gigabit Ethernet Switch: Gigabit (10/100/1000) is 10X faster than Fast Ethernet.
  • Dual-Band (2.4 + 5 GHz): N600 + AC2600 Mbps.
  • Killer Prioritization Engine: The first router that prioritizes gaming.
  • Advanced Security: WPA2 encryption and SPI rewall help keep your network safely connected.
  • Customized Gaming Interface: Custom-built interface and firmware for gaming traffic control.
  • 256MB Flash and 512MB of RAM Memory: Handle more without delay for optimal performance.
  • 4 High-Performance Antennas: Engineered to enhance dual-band communication; four external, adjustable antennas ensure supreme Wi-Fi signal strength.
  • eSATA, USB 3.0, and USB 2.0 Ports: Share content via an external storage device with ultra-fast data transfer speeds. USB 3.0 delivers enhanced performance over USB 2.0; eSATA delivers optimal data transfer speeds from external SATA drives and accommodates USB 2.0.

WRT32X_2.jpg

The WRT32X carries an MSRP of $329.99, with availability TBA.

Source: Linksys

The Dark Knight returns, the ASUS RT-AC1900P wireless router

Subject: General Tech, Networking | July 12, 2017 - 01:21 PM |
Tagged: RT-AC1900P, asus, wireless router

If you are more interested in quick wireless networking than you are in upgrading to a 10Gbps wired network then perhaps this review over at The Tech Report will catch your fancy.  It is similar in design and size to the RT-AC68U, at 6.2x8.6x3.2" but it hides some upgrades inside.  The processor has been upgraded to a dual core Broadcom BCM4709C0 running at 1.4 GHz and the internal memory has been doubled to 256MB though the radio remains the same with rated transfers of 600 Mbps on the 2.4 GHz band and 1300 Mbps on the 5GHz band.  Testing showed some improvements compared to the previous model when it came to range and broadcasting through obstacles, with some increase in transfer speeds as well.  Check it out here.

router-1-1.jpg

"Asus' RT-AC1900P carries on the legacy of the company's popular RT-N66U "Dark Knight" router. This time around, the unit comes armed with an 802.11ac radio for faster performance on the 5GHz band. We fired up this router in our crowded wireless airspace to see whether it can stand above the rest."

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Computex 2017: Killer xTend Turns a PC into a Switch and Wi-Fi Extender

Subject: Networking | May 30, 2017 - 05:00 AM |
Tagged: wireless, wifi extender, wi-fi, Rivet Networks, network, msi, lan, Killer xTend, Killer Networking, gigabyte, Ethernet, computex 2017, computex

Rivet Networks has a new Killer Networking product, but it isn't a line of NICs or Wireless adapters; it's actually a combination of both interfaces (including a minimum of three Gigabit Ethernet ports) that combine to turn your PC into switch and a Wi-Fi extender. They call the new product Killer xTend, and Rivet Networks has partnered with MSI and GIGABYTE to bring the new technology to market.

Killer_xTend.jpg

"Killer xTend delivers powerful network extension capabilities to your computer by integrating a network switch that includes at least three Killer Ethernet ports and using a Killer Wireless-AC module as a Wi-Fi extender. This allows your computer to share its network access with other nearby wired and wireless devices with a strong, powerful network connection.

Consumers no longer need to mess with switches and network extenders that are expensive and difficult to configure. Instead, they can use Killer’s innovative new xTend Technology to connect devices such as gaming consoles, smart phones and tablets directly to their gaming PCs. Killer xTend keeps your games, voice, and video fast and smooth because high priority traffic on the Killer PC is prioritized above the traffic from connected devices. Killer xTend also delivers amazing speeds – with potential throughput up to 1 Gbps for each Killer E2500 plus another 867 Mbps for the Killer Wi-Fi module."

The first motherboard launching with Killer xTend is the MSI Z270 GODLIKE GAMING, with three Killer E2500 NICs and a Killer Wireless-AC 1535 module onboard.

z270-godlike-gaming.jpg

"...the new GODLIKE adapts the Killer™ xTend technology as well and delivers powerful network extension capabilities by integrating a network switch that includes 3 Killer Ethernet ports and a Killer Wireless-AC module as a Wi-Fi extender. This allows the GODLIKE GAMING to provide the network access to other nearby wired and wireless devices with a strong, powerful network connection. Gamers no longer need to mess with switches and network extenders that are expensive and difficult to configure – instead they can use Killer’s innovative new xTend Technology to connect devices such as gaming consoles, smart phones, and tablets directly to your gaming PC. The Killer xTend keeps your games, voice, and video fast and smooth because high priority traffic on the Killer PC is prioritized above the traffic from connected devices. Killer xTend also delivers amazing throughput to your home – with potential throughput up to 1 Gbps for each Killer E2500 plus another 867 Mbps for the Killer Wi-Fi module."

GIGABYTE's AORUS Gaming Series will include Killer xTend, though no specific models were mentioned in the press release from Rivet Networks.

Full press release after the break.

Samba Developers Release Patch For Remote Code Execution Vulnerability (CVE-2017-7494)

Subject: General Tech | May 28, 2017 - 07:10 PM |
Tagged: samba, linux, ransomware, security, networking

Last week, the development team behind Samba – popular software suite used on Linux and Unix clients and servers that uses TCP/IP protocol for file and print sharing to SMB/CIFS clients (including Microsoft Windows) – released a security advisory along with patches for a remote code execution hole that has been present in Samba for seven years since the release of Samba 3.5.0 in March 2010. The vulnerability, classified under CVE-2017-7494, allows an attacker to upload malicious code to a Samba server and get the server to run the code by sending a malformed IPC request that references the local file path. The Samba server will run the code in the malicious shared library (.so) file even though it is from an untrusted remote source.

Samba logo.jpg

The bad news is that this is a fairly serious flaw that could lead to an attacker successfully holding a business or home user’s files (including backups!) at ransom, stealing data, or using the now owned file server to attack other network resources that trust the file server. If not securely configured (e.g. allowing anonymous writes), the attack could even be wormable which would allow it to self-replicate across the network or Internet. Further, while various security firms have slightly different numbers, they all seem to agree that around 100,000 Internet-accessible machines are running vulnerable versions of Samba.

It is not all bad news though, and in some respects this vulnerability is not as big of an issue as the WannaCry ransomware and EternalBlue SMB vulnerability because in order to successfully exploit the Samba flaw an attacker needs to obtain credentials to upload the malicious code to the file share(s) which need to be writeable in the first place and not running as noexec under a SELinux policy. Also, attackers need to know or guess the local path name of the files on the file share to send the malformed IPC request. More importantly, the Samba team released three security releases (4.6.4, 4.5.10, and 4.4.14) for the newer branches and is working with OS distributions on providing patches for older Samba versions. For systems that cannot be updated or patched, there is also a workaround that can be implemented by modifying the global Samba config file to contain the setting “nt pipe support = no”. While this will break some expected Windows functionality (mainly machines will not be able to access null shares and will need to use the specific share path rather than just the server path), it will make it so that Samba will not accept the malicious requests.

Perhaps the most worrying aspect of this vulnerability is that security researchers estimate that up to 90% of the vulnerable Internet-connected Samba endpoints do not have a direct patch or update available yet and may not ever get one. While the enterprise hardware and even bigger consumer and SMB hardware providers will provide support for this in the form of patches or firmware updates, there is a sea of home routers, NAS boxes, file and print servers, and IoT devices running on home networks that are not open to user updates and may not ever get firmware updates. The best thing to do in this scenario according to the security advisory (if you can’t just not use it or replace it with different hardware that can be patched or isn’t affected of course) is to not expose it to the Internet. There would still be a risk of it being exploited should someone get a virus on a client machine through email, malicious downloads, or social engineering though. Considering these home NAS devices are usually used as destinations for backups, the risk of ransomware not only infecting client machines but also the main file share and network backups is scary. I have always been a fan of offline and/or cloud backups and in these modern times they are more important than ever with the rise of ransomware and other profit motivated viruses.

If you are not sure if your network is affected, there are tools being made available (including a Metasploit module, nmap scripts, and Internet scans) to help you determine that and reduce your attack surface using that information by updating to the latest security release, applying patches, updating, using SELinux policies to prevent the server from executing files itself, and preventing them from communicating with the Internet in order of effectiveness.

All that is to say don’t panic, stay vigilant, and make sure your important data is properly backed up and secured as much as possible!

Source: Samba.org

Why the world of WiFi is as murky as the HiFi market

Subject: General Tech | March 6, 2017 - 01:42 PM |
Tagged: wifi, networking

Our own Sebastian Peak has delved into the nightmare world of testing WiFi, specifically MU-MIMO and explained some of the difficulties you encounter when testing wireless networks.  It is now Ars Technica's turn to try to explain why your 2.4GHz router never delivers the advertised 1,000 Mbps as well as how to test your actual performance.  As with many products, the marketing team has little interest in what the engineers are saying, they simply want phrases they can stick on their packaging and PR materials.  While the engineers are still pointing out that even the best case scenarios involving a single user less than 10 feet away, with clear line of sight will not reach the theoretical performance peak, the PR with that high number has already been emailed and packages are printing. 

Drop by Ars Technica for a look at how the current state of WiFi has evolved into this mess, as well as a dive into how the new technologies work and what performance you can actually expect from them.

TP-Link Talon AD7200.jpg

"802.11n was introduced to the consumer public around 2010, promising six hundred Mbps. Wow! Okay, so it's not as fast as the gigabit wired Ethernet that just started getting affordable around the same time, but six times faster than wired Fast Ethernet, right? Once again, a reasonable real-life expectation was around a tenth of that. Maybe. On a good day. To a single device."

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Source: Ars Technica

NETGEAR Issues Non-Urgent Recall of Some Enterprise Devices

Subject: Networking, Storage | March 4, 2017 - 11:57 PM |
Tagged: netgear, Intel, Avoton, recall

While this is more useful for our readers in the IT field, NETGEAR has issued a (non-urgent) recall on sixteen models of Rackmount NAS and Wireless Controller devices. It looks like the reason for this announcement is to maintain customer relations. They are planning to reach out to customers “over the next several months” to figure out a solution for them. Note the relaxed schedule.

netgear-2017-RN3130.png

The affected model numbers are:

  1. RN3130
  2. RN3138
  3. WC7500 Series:
    • WC7500-10000S, WC7500-100INS, WC7500-100PRS, WB7520-10000S, WB7520-100NAS, WB7530-10000S, WB7530-100NAS
  4. WC7600 Series:
    • WC7600-20000S, WC7600-200INS, WC7600-200PRS, WB7620-10000S, WB7620-100NAS, WB7630-10000S, WB7630-100NAS

The Register noticed that each of these devices contain Intel’s Avoton-based Atom processors. You may remember our coverage from last month, which also sourced The Register, that states these chips may fail to boot over time. NETGEAR is not blaming Intel for their recall, but gave The Register a wink and a nudge when pressed: “We’re not naming the vendor but it sounds as if you’ve done your research.”

Again, while this news applies to enterprise customers and it’s entirely possible that Intel (if it actually is the Avoton long-term failure issue) is privately supporting them, it’s good to see NETGEAR being honest and upfront. Problems will arise in the tech industry; often (albeit not always) what matters more is how they are repaired.

Source: NETGEAR

CES 2017: Netgear Shows Off Nighthawk S8000 Semi-Managed Switch

Subject: General Tech | January 8, 2017 - 11:58 AM |
Tagged: networking, netgear, CES 2017, CES

Netgear introduced a new semi-managed switch under its Nighthawk brand called the Nighthawk S8000. The new gigabit switch offers eight ports and a GUI web management interface.

s7_image.png

The Nighthawk S8000 keeps the stealth bomber design aesthetic of its larger router brethren with clean lines, sharp angles, and a dark zinc alloy housing. The one downside to this design is that these switches are not stackable but if you need that many ports you are probably looking at a bigger single switch anyway.

Exact specifications are not yet available, but the Layer 2 GS808E switch reportedly offers per-port prioritization and QoS (Quality of Service), DoS (Denial of Service) protection, and IGMP snooping (they don't list which version though so I can't say if this would work well with AT&T Uverse and running TV and PCs on). There are reportedly three pre-set modes and two user customizable profiles that can be set for each port depending on usage: gaming, media streaming, and standard LAN. Further, there are four (Netgear’s site lists 3 in some places) levels of prioritization.

The gigabit switch does support link aggregation (port trunking) up to 4 ports for a single 4Gbps connection to devices that also support link aggregation. This can be configured as a single 4Gbps connection or as redundancy in case one port or cable fails. The use case for something like this would be multiple PCs sending and receiving large amounts of data from a NAS at the same time where the wider connection back to the switch can be meaningfully utilized.

The Nighthawk S8000 comes with a 3 year warranty and will be available in March for $99.99.

There may be better options, especially at $99.99 but fans of Netgear’s Nighthawk wireless routers might be interested. It is hard to say if it is worth the price yet as independent reviews are not out yet. For those interested, PC Gamer has more photos of the switch.

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Source: Netgear

CES 2017: Second-Generation Bitdefender BOX Announced

Subject: Networking | January 6, 2017 - 07:02 AM |
Tagged: router, iot, internet of things, bitdefender, 802.11ac

A couple of years ago, Bitdefender released the Bitdefender BOX, which was a router designed for security that was aimed at home users. They are taking another shot at it for this year’s CES with the second-generation Bitdefender BOX. It is now running on a 1.2 GHz, dual-core ARM Cortex A9 SoC, backed with 1GB of RAM.

bitdefender-2017-ces-boxv2.jpg

The goal is to have a security-conscious company stand between all of your internet-of-things devices, allowing your TVs, security cameras, and whatever else to function without being a foothold for malicious actors.

Pricing and availability has not yet been finalized, but PCWorld cites a spokesperson for the company that expects the device to sell for $199 USD with a $99/year subscription. If the service is the same as the first-generation device, and I understand the product page correctly, then this subscription also provides a license to their TotalSecurity antivirus as well.

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Source: Bitdefender

CES 2017: ASUS Announces HiveSpot and HiveDot Mesh WiFi

Subject: Networking | January 4, 2017 - 07:40 PM |
Tagged: wifi, router, mesh, hivespot, hivedot, gigabit router, asus, 802.11ac

ASUS has just announced the HiveSpot and HiveDot Mesh WiFi systems, which both combine multiple access points into a single network. Any individual node could be configured as either a router or a repeater, but the system is designed around one acting as a router and the rest, repeaters. The main difference between the two models is the higher-end set, the HiveSpot, utilize an extra, 5 GHz band, running 867 megabit, that’s dedicated to communication between the access points.

ASUS-2017-ces HiveSpot  (3 HiveSpots).jpg

Because of this, the HiveSpot is listed as AC2134 while the HiveDot is AC1300, but devices that connect to this network will see two, 650 megabit bands in either case. What the HiveSpot will get you is higher performance (and maybe stability) should multiple devices be communicating with different nodes at the same time. With the HiveDot, the routers will be sharing the same bandwidth as the devices connecting to them.

ASUS wasn’t too clear about pricing in their press release, but CNet is reporting that they will be sold in bundles of three, which is the minimum for the mesh network. Three HiveSpot devices will carry an MSRP of $399 USD, while three HiveDots, $299. In other words, it will cost you $100 if you want the high-bandwidth, dedicated link between the nodes.

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Source: ASUS

CES 2017: Lenovo's Smart Assistant, Smart Storage, and Multimedia Controller

Subject: General Tech, Networking | January 3, 2017 - 03:01 AM |
Tagged: wireless keyboard, Smart Storage, smart home, Smart Assistant, Lenovo, connected, CES 2017, CES, Alexa, 500 Multimedia Controller

Lenovo is announcing a trio of new connected devices beginning with the Amazon Alexa-powered Smart Assistant.

Lenovo Smart Assistant Black 1.jpg

“The Lenovo Smart Assistant with Amazon Alexa is like having your own digital assistant at home. Featuring Amazon’s Alexa Voice Service, this voice-controlled high-definition speaker with far field microphones, is there to lend a hand whenever you need it. Want to know what the morning traffic is like? Forgot to order that book from Amazon? Longing to hear your favorite playlist? Simply ask Alexa. She has all the answers to help simplify your life. What’s more, she can even help remotely with the Amazon Alexa App, which is free to download for Android and iOS.”

The Smart Assistant offers high definition sound with a speaker system that combines a 5W treble and 10W bass speaker,  and the Harman Kardon Edition takes this further with a ported design for enhanced sound.

Next we have Lenovo’s Smart Storage, which provides up to 6 TB of connected storage over a wireless (or wired) home network.

Lenovo Smart Storage 2.jpg

“Despite this remote storage center’s compact size, the Lenovo Smart Storage comes with a big challenge: How will you and your family fill it? Capable of storing up to 6 TB of photos, movies, and other digital files, this dual-band WiFi storage system can connect wirelessly to almost any smart device you own, worldwide. You’ll maintain absolute administrative control, ensuring your data and content are secure and safe—and with Auto Sync enabled, your data will back-up automatically when within WiFi range. DLNA support also ensures you’ll be able to enjoy your movies and music on any device, anytime.”

Finally we have the Lenovo 500 Multimedia Controller, which combines a compact keyboard and touchpad in a small wireless control device for the living room.

Lenovo 500 Multimedia Controller-2.jpg

“Want to browse the web from your couch? Or turn on your favorite playlist from the dining table? We’ve got you covered with the Lenovo 500 Multimedia Controller. It’s not only a mouse and keyboard in one, it’s also a remote control optimized for your Windows operating system. With an ergonomic design and up to 8 months battery life, the versatile Lenovo 500 Multimedia Controller will make your life easier.”

The controller is designed for Windows PCs (support for Windows 7 through 10), and uses a nano USB dongle for its 2.4 GHz wireless connection. The touchpad DPI is adjustable for user preference, and the unit offers up to 8 months of battery life from a pair of AAA batteries. At 5.71 x 3.37 x 0.74 inches (and 141 grams) this is a pretty small device, but certainly larger than some of the smart TV remote keyboards certain models have shipped with.

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Source: Lenovo

Qualcomm Announces Snapdragon X50 5G Modem

Subject: Networking, Mobile | October 17, 2016 - 11:00 PM |
Tagged: Snapdragon X50, snapdragon, qualcomm, modem, mobile, mmWave, LTE, cellular, 5G

Qualcomm has officially unveiled the development of a new 5G modem with the Snapdragon X50, which targets OEMs and early 5G development. The X50 supports milimeter wave (mmWave) technology initially, and rather than replace existing LTE solutions the X50 is designed to work alongside LTE modems integrated into Snapdragon SoCs, for a seamless handoff between 5G and 4G networks.

X50_Modem_Logo.jpg

"The Snapdragon X50 5G modem will initially support operation in millimeter wave (mmWave) spectrum in the 28GHz band. It will employ Multiple-Input Multiple-Output (MIMO) antenna technology with adaptive beamforming and beam tracking techniques, which facilitates robust and sustained mobile broadband communications in non-line-of-sight (NLOS) environments. With 800 MHz bandwidth support, the Snapdragon X50 5G modem is designed to support peak download speeds of up to 5 gigabits per second. 

Designed to be used for multi-mode 4G/5G mobile broadband, as well as fixed wireless broadband devices, the Snapdragon X50 5G modem can be paired with a Qualcomm® Snapdragon™ processor with an integrated Gigabit LTE modem and interwork cohesively via dual-connectivity. Gigabit LTE will become an essential pillar for the 5G mobile experience, as it can provide a wide coverage layer for nascent 5G networks."

Ratification of an official “5G” standard has not taken place, but Qualcomm hopes to position itself at the forefront of its development. The mmWave technology (which is explained in this video) is only one part of the puzzle:

"Work has begun on defining, standardizing and designing the new OFDM-based 5G New Radio (NR) as part of the global 3GPP standard. 5G NR is being designed to support a wide variation of device-types, services and deployments. It is also being designed to get the most out of every bit of spectrum across a wide array of available spectrum bands and regulatory paradigms."

(More information is available on Qualcomm's 5G Technologies page.)

The Snapdragon X50 modem is set to begin sampling to OEMs in the second half of 2017, with the first half of 2018 projected for the first commercial products featuring the new modem.

Source: Qualcomm

Introducing the XG-U2008 switch – 10G networking for only $249

Subject: General Tech, Networking | October 12, 2016 - 04:22 PM |
Tagged: asus, XG-U2008, unmanaged switch, 10 gigabit

Planning an upgrade to your network or looking to build one that will last into the next generation of NICs?  ASUS has just made an unmanaged 10 gigabit switch available at a price far below the average asking price of the devices currently on the market.  $250 is still a steep investment for a switch but is less than half of the competitions, albeit without the management features found on those switches.  The LEDs on the front will glow amber if the cable you use is not up to the new standard, otherwise expect green for go.  It will support Jumbo Frames of up to 16 KB just like the more expensive models.  It is a compact 9.44x4.92x1.06", so you should easily be able to find a home for it.  PR below the snazzy product shot, technical details from ASUS here.

unnamed.png

Fremont, CA (October 10th, 2016) -- Outside the enterprise market, the transition from Gigabit to 10-Gigabit Ethernet has been rather slow. While there are growing small-business and prosumer demands for the additional bandwidth that 10G networking provides, the cost of entry is high. Until now, the availability of compliant devices has been limited to enterprise-class products that are built with corporate networks in mind, with pricing for 10-Gigabit switches starting at $800. That certainly isn’t expensive by corporate standards, but for the rest of us, it relegates adoption to cases of absolute necessity and the upper echelon of enthusiasts.

While it’s advisable to plan ahead and overprovision your network for scalability, paying extra money for ports or features that you’ll never use doesn’t make sense. So, there’s a clear need for 10G networking devices that are suitably tailored for the small business, prosumer, and enthusiast markets. Cue the ASUS XG-U2008, an unmanaged 10G networking switch available for only $249.99.

Source:

Google WiFi Bringing Wireless Mesh Networking to the Home

Subject: Networking | October 9, 2016 - 01:42 AM |
Tagged: wifi, onhub, mesh, google wifi, google, 802.11ac

Building on the company’s OnHub WiFi router program, the search giant will be offering up its own mesh WiFi network solution for home users later this year aptly named “Google WiFi.” Available in November for pre-order Google will offer single and triple packs of its puck-shaped smartphone controlled WiFi nodes.

Google WiFi node.png

Google WiFi is a new product that takes advantage of an old technology called mesh networking. While most home users rely on a single powerful access point to distribute the wireless signal throughout the home, mesh networks place nodes around the home in such a way that the WiFi networks overlap. Devices can connect to any node and transition between nodes automatically. The nodes communicate with each other wirelessly and connect end devices to the router and Internet by taking the best path (least number of hops and/or highest signal strengths). This model does have some disadvantages that are shared with WiFi repeater solutions in that as much as 50% (or worse!) of the bandwidth can be lost at each hop as the devices use wireless for both communicating with end devices and the backbone to the router. The advantage though is that you need only find a power outlet to set up the mesh node and there is no need to run Ethernet or deal with Powerline or MoCA setups.

Fortunately, it looks as though Google has mitigated the disadvantage by including two radios. The circular Google WiFi nodes (which measure 4.17” diagonally and 2.7” tall) pack a dual band 802.11ac WiFi chip that can operate at both 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz. Using the 5 GHz network for in room end devices (PCs, smartphones, game consoles, Rokus, et al) and the 2.4 GHz network to communicate with each other will help to eliminate a major bottleneck. There will likely still be some bandwidth lost, especially over multiple hops, due to interference, but it should be much less than 50% bandwidth loss.

Google WiFi Mesh.png

Each Google WiFi node features two Gigabit Ethernet ports that can be setup as LAN or WAN ports, Bluetooth, and an 802.11ac 2x2 WiFi radio with beamforming support. The nodes are powered by an unspecified quad core processor, 512MB DDR3L memory, and 4GB of eMMC flash storage. The nodes apparently draw as much as 15 watts.

Of course, being Google, the Google WiFi can be controlled using an Android or iOS app that allows the administrator to pause WiFi on a per-device basis (e.g. set time limits for children), monitor device bandwidth usage and prioritize traffic, and automatically apply firmware updates to mitigate security risks. Additionally, Google WiFi automatically configures each node to use the best channel and band to get the best performance that supports all devices.

The nodes currently come only in white and are constructed of plastic. There are blue LEDs around the middle of the puck shaped device. Google WiFi will be available for pre-order in November. A single node will cost $129 while a three pack will cost $299. Google is not first to the wireless mesh party but it looks like it will be competitively priced (the three pack is $200 cheaper than eero, for example).

This looks like it might be a simple to setup solution if you or your family are currently running a single access point that can’t quite cover the entire home. I don’t really see this as a product for enthusiasts, but it might be worth recommending to people that just want WiFi that works with little setup. I will have to wait for reviews to say for sure though.

What are your thoughts on Google WiFi?

Also read:

Source: Google

Apple Dual-Sourcing Its iPhone 7 Modems

Subject: Networking, Mobile | September 16, 2016 - 08:48 PM |
Tagged: qualcomm, iPhone 7 Plus, iPhone 7, iphone, Intel, apple

Not every iPhone is created equal. Dual-sourcing parts is fairly common, especially in the mobile space. Samsung, for instance, is known to have separate models of the same phone, with some using its own parts, and others using third-party components. Apple has even designed separate versions of the same SoC in the past, to fabricate them at different locations and on different process technologies.

Apple-logo.jpg

This case is more simple than that, though. Depending on the specific iPhone 7 that you get, which mostly varies by region and carrier, but also apparently between Plus and regular, you will either get a Qualcomm Snapdragon X12 modem, or you will get an Intel XMM 7360 modem. The ratio between these two parts, all markets considered, doesn't seem to have been announced yet, but old rumors claim about 70:30, Qualcomm-to-Intel. Still, Apple is a pretty big customer, so I'm hoping that both Intel and Qualcomm are moving enough to (Update: Sigh... input fail... original article cut off here. The rest of the sentence, after this update, was added a couple hours later.) be worthwhile for both parties.

Source: Fudzilla

The artisanal homebrew router faces a new challenge

Subject: General Tech, Networking | September 16, 2016 - 12:27 PM |
Tagged: router, DIY, homebrew, openwrt

Ars Technica took router modding to a new level this year; why just flash your router with OpenWRT when you can make one from a mini PC?  The original was a dual gigabit NIC mini-PC with a 1037u Ivy Bridge Celeron from Alibaba, Homebrew 2.0 is sourced from Amazon, has four Intel gigabit LAN ports and runs on a J1900 Bay Trail Celeron.  You simply install an inexpensive SSD is installed in the mini-PC, set up OpenWRT and configure your network settings.  In this latest update Ars compares their homebrew routers to several retail routers to see how they fall in terms of performance.  Check it out to see how they fare and possibly to learn a bit about network benchmarks.

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"Famously around the Ars forums, this problem soon evolved into our homebrew router initiative. In January, I showed my math as a DIY-Linux router outpaced popular off-the-shelf options like the Netgear Nighthawk X6 and the Linksys N600 EA-2750. And in August, I shared the steps necessary to build one of your own."

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Source: Ars Technica

Rivet Networks Announces Killer E2500 Gigabit Ethernet Controller

Subject: Networking | September 15, 2016 - 04:42 PM |
Tagged: Rivet Networks, NiC, networking, Killer Networking, Killer E2500, Ethernet, controller

Rivet Networks have announced the new Killer E2500 Gigabit Ethernet controller, and they are partnering with MSI and GIGABYTE to bring the new controller to consumer gaming motherboards.

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“The Killer E2500 delivers powerful networking technology to gamers and performance users, including significant new enhancements to its Advanced Stream Detect 2.0 Technology and the all new Killer Control Center. In addition to detecting and optimally prioritizing your games, video, and voice applications with Advanced Stream Detect 2.0 Technology, the Killer E2500 also detects and manages 500+ of the top global websites.”

The networking performance is said to be improved considerably with the new controller and software, with "Lag and Latency Reduction Technology":

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“Through its patented technology, Killer is able to get network packets to your applications and web browsers up to 25% faster than the competition during single application usage, and potentially by more than 10x faster when multitasking.”

As I quickly realized when reviewing the Killer Wireless-AC 1535 last year, the software is just as important as the hardware with a Killer adapter. For the new E2500, the Killer Control Center has been re-designed, to provide “users full control of all aspects of their system’s networking performance”.

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Rivet Networks describes the functionality of this Killer Control Center software, which allows users to control:

  • The priority of each application and popular website
  • The bandwidth used by each application and popular website
  • The Killer interface that each application is going over
  • The total bandwidth being used by system

I found that enabling the Killer Software bandwidth management to significantly affect latency when gaming (which you can see here, again revisiting the AC 1535 review), and Rivet Networks is confident that this new system will offer even better performance. We’ll know exactly how this new controller and software performs once we have one of the new motherboards featuring this E2500 controller onboard.

Bluetooth 5 Announced

Subject: Networking | June 10, 2016 - 08:11 AM |
Tagged: bluetooth 5, bluetooth

The fourth version of Bluetooth was released almost six years ago now. Its main focus was lower power, which was very important at the time. Bluetooth and WiFi were major energy sinks for mobile devices, and smartphones were taking off. This was also during the first wave of tablets.

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The Bluetooth special interest group has now announced Bluetooth 5. The headlining features are double range and quadruple speed for low-powered Bluetooth connections. (Update, June 13th @ 1:15pm: Bluetooth's PR agency contacted me, said the source's numbers were backwards, and asked me to update to the correct ones. It's double speed and quadruple range for low-powered Bluetooth connections.) This is obviously useful for a data communication protocol, although it is difficult to tell whether low bandwidth was an issue for many devices. It is not exactly something that hardware vendors would publicly complain about.

They also intend to allow certain services to operate without pairing. The open letter says that it is intended to be used with “beacons” and “location-based services” but fails to elaborate. Instead, it points to their Discover Blue: London event on June 16th, so I expect that will be expanded upon there. Part of me is concerned that connectionless could turn into “operates without user control,” but, ultimately, the device is responsible for what it executes. There shouldn't be a way that a protocol, without the OS being involved, could force an interaction -- at least not without a backlash against the OS for permitting it.

Again, we'll find out more in about a week, on June 16th.

Well fork me, there is a schism at OpenWRT

Subject: General Tech | May 5, 2016 - 12:19 PM |
Tagged: openwrt, LEDE, networking

The Rebel scum known as the LEDE Project have broken away from the OpenWRT project in an unannounced move meant to increase transparency.  Jokes aside, The Register named seven of the developers who are part of this forking, a not uncommon practice in open source projects.  LEDE will try to bring in fresh enthusiasm to a Linux project which has been losing the interest of programmers, perhaps due to the lack of transparency that they cite or possibly just due to waning interest in a long running project.  Pop on over to their page to see their mission statement, rules and processes if you are interested in how they compare to OpenWRT.

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"The LEDE Project – Linux Embedded Development Environment – describes itself as a breakaway project that wants to overcome what it sees as faults in OpenWRT."

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Source: The Register

Linksys Releases EA7500 Max-Stream AC1900 MU-MIMO Router

Subject: Networking | February 19, 2016 - 12:37 PM |
Tagged: wireless router, wi-fi, router, mu-mimo, MAX-STREAM AC1900, linksys, EA8500, EA7500, 802.11ac, 4x4, 3x3

Linksys has announced availability of a new MU-MIMO wireless router, and the EA7500 features 3x3 802.11ac Wi-Fi along with 4x Gigabit LAN ports.

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“The Linksys MAX-STREAM AC1900 features MU-MIMO, the latest advance toward uninterrupted, simultaneous Wi-Fi connections. Devices such as HD streaming media players, 4K TVs, tablets, and game consoles use a lot of bandwidth. But with MU-MIMO (Multi-User, Multiple-Input, Multiple-Output) technology, the MAX-STREAM AC1900 sends advanced Wi-Fi to multiple devices at the same time and same speed. Your whole family can play, stream, and work at once, without experiencing lag or buffering - at up to 2x the speed of a non-MU-MIMO router.”

The specs include:

  • Wi-Fi Technology: AC1900 MU-MIMO Dual-band Gigabit, 600+1300 Mbps 
  • Wi-Fi Speed: AC1900 (N600 + AC1300) 
  • Wi-Fi Bands: 2.4 and 5 GHz (simultaneous dual band)
  • Power Antennas: 3x external, dual-band, detachable antennas
  • Operation Modes: Wireless Router, Access Point, Wired Bridge, Wireless Bridge
  • Processor: 1.4 GHz dual-core 
  • Number of Ethernet Ports: 4x Gigabit LAN ports, 1x Gigabit WAN port
  • Other Ports: 1x USB 3.0 port, 1x USB 2.0 port 
  • Storage File System Support: FAT, NTFS, HFS+

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Retail pricing is $199.99, placing it $50 below the larger 4x4 MU-MIMO EA8500 router ($249.99). If you’re looking to upgrade your router to take advantage of MU-MIMO technology (the benefits of which we covered in our review of the Killer Wireless-AC 1535), this EA7500 provides a new, more affordable option.

Full press release after the break.

Source: Linksys