Subject: Networking | October 9, 2016 - 01:42 AM | Tim Verry
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 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.
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?
- Heterogeneous Wireless Mesh Network Technology Evaluation for Space Proximity and Surface Applications (PDF) @ NASA
- Solving the Wireless Mesh Multi-Hop Dilemma (PDF) @ Strix Systems
Subject: Networking, Mobile | September 16, 2016 - 08:48 PM | Scott Michaud
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.
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.
Subject: General Tech, Networking | September 16, 2016 - 12:27 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
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.
"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."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- Microsoft fiddles results to show Edge is 'better' than Opera and Chrome @ The Inquirer
- Xiaomi Can Silently Install Any App On Your Android Phone Using A Backdoor @ Slashdot
- Apple Japan Unit Ordered To Pay $118M Tax For Underreporting Income @ Slashdot
- 10 GNOME Shell Extensions You Should Be Using @ Linux.com
- Chrome and Firefox are blocking access to The Pirate Bay @ The InquirerE
- NikKTech & Alphacool AIO Global Giveaway
Subject: Networking | September 15, 2016 - 04:42 PM | Sebastian Peak
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.
“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":
“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”.
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.
Actiontec MoCA WCB6200Q and ECB6200 Review
Occasionally we’ll get some gear rolling through the PCPer offices that are a bit off the beaten path. The pair of devices on tap today are something you may not come across often, and could very well be something you may not have even heard of. They are niche products serving a niche need, and that niche is “MoCA.” Today we’re looking at the Actiontec WCB6200Q 802.11ac MoCA 2.0 Wireless Network Extender and its partner in crime the Actiontec ECB6200 Bonded MoCA 2.0 Network Adapter.
Subject: Networking | June 10, 2016 - 08:11 AM | Scott Michaud
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.
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.
Subject: Networking | February 19, 2016 - 12:37 PM | Sebastian Peak
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.
“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+
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.
Subject: Networking | February 9, 2016 - 11:24 AM | Sebastian Peak
Tagged: wireless repeater, wi-fi, signal repeater, RP-AC68U, router, dual-band, asus, ac1900
ASUS has announced a new high-end wireless repeater, and the RP-AC68U boasts dual-band wireless AC1900 speeds, and features 5 Gigabit Ethernet ports to add wired devices to the network.
"ASUS RP-AC68U works by connecting wirelessly to an existing router and extending the Wi-Fi signal to areas of poor coverage, which are often a problem in large or multi-floor homes. With its blindingly-fast up to 1900Mbps combined speeds (600Mbps on the 2.4GHz band and 1300Mbps on the 5GHz band), RP-AC68U is the perfect companion for extending the coverage of the latest 802.11ac routers, but it can also be used with routers supporting any older Wi-Fi standards."
The boxy shape is a big contrast from the giant spider-like designs we've seen from recent high-end routers, and inside the enclosure there are a total of 3 transmit and 4 receive antennas to extend the range of your dual-band 802.11ac network.
The RP-AC68U has five Gigabit Ethernet ports on the back, which ASUS says "allow users to convert any wired network devices to wireless operation", and there's a USB 3.0 port to allow additional devices to be added to the network.
- I/O ports:
- 5 x Gigabit Ethernet LAN RJ45
- 1 x USB 3.0 port
- Antennas: 4 x Internal antennas (3 transmit, 4 receive)
- Memory: 128MB Flash / 256MB RAM
- Operating Frequency: Dual band 2.4GHz & 5GHz
- Wi-Fi Data Rate*:
- 802.11ac: up to 1300Mbps
- 802.11n: Up to 600Mbps
- 802.11a/g: Up to 54Mbps
- 802.11b: Up to 11Mbps
- *Quoted network speeds and bandwidth based on current IEEE specifications. Actual performance may be affected by network and service provider factors, interface type, and other conditions. Connected devices must be compatible for best results.
- 802.11ac Specification:
- MIMO: 3 x 4
- 20/40/80MHz bandwidth
- WPS button
- Power button
- Reset button
- WPS support
- Access Point
- Media Bridge
- Dimensions & weight: 178 x 106 x 106 mm; Weight: 870g
Pricing and availabilty were not announced. Full press release after the break.
Subject: Networking | January 13, 2016 - 12:03 AM | Tim Verry
Tagged: wireless router, tp-link, mu-mimo, gigabit ethernet, CES 2016, 802.11ad, 802.11ac
Last week, TP-Link launched a new wireless router that is the first to support the 802.11ad "WiGig" standard alongside the usual fare of wireless AC, N, B, G, and A Wi-Fi networks. Sporting eight foldable external antennas, the TP-Link Talon AD7200 will be available within the next few months.
The Talon AD7200 features four Gigabit Ethernet ports, two USB 3.0 ports, eight antennas, and an all black casing with status LEDs lighting up the front panel. Two Qualcomm Atheros chipsets along with an unspecified dual core processor clocked at 1.4 GHz make up the internal hardware. One Atheros chipset is solely for the new 802.11ad radio while the other handles the remaining networks.
On the wireless side of things, the router supports simultaneous operation of a 5 GHz 802.11ac, 2.4 GHz 802.11n, and a 60 GHz 802.11ad network. Throughput is rated at up to 1,733 Mbps on the 5 GHz band, 800 Mbps on the 2.4 GHz, and an impressive 4,600 Mbps on the 60 GHz band. The 802.11ad network support is the really interesting part of this router. While the 60 GHz band allows for super fast connections, it has a range of only a few meters and it needs a clear line of sight without any obstructions – the signal can't pass through a person or even a decorative plant for example. This standard was initially intended for the connected living room that would allow users to stream or copy high bit-rate media from a mobile device or computer to your television. In that respect, the 60 GHz band works well and offers up plenty of bandwidth for the job.
The router allows hand-offs from 802.11ad to 802.11ac/n/b/a (eg. when you leave the room you can still stay connected to the network and internet, just on the slower but still fast enough for Internet access network) and supports beamforming and multi-user MIMO. It is using an allegedly user friendly firmware.
It is strange to see a router supporting the standard though when a direct Wi-Fi connection between the computer and TV should do fine. It does open up some interesting possibilities though. Right now, consumer devices supporting 10 Gigabit Ethernet are extremely rare and still not very affordable. With 1 Gigabit links being commonplace for a number of years now they have started to be surpassed by 802.11ac Wi-Fi in (theoretical) throughput (though the ol' hardwired connection still holds stability and latency benefits). There is a new standard NBASE-T aimed at bridging the gap between 1 GbE and 10 GbE for home users that hits 2.5 Gbps and 5 Gbps but that is still very much in its infancy. If you had an 802.11ad access point in every room, or at least the places you needed high bandwidth connections, it would be a definite improvement over a Gigabit Ethernet connection for large file transfers (think a backup to a NAS or offloading pictures and video from your laptop or phone to your desktop for editing). Of course, WiGig docks are also a thing, and offer a wireless alternative to a Thunderbolt docking station.
802.11ad is not revolutionary and it has it's limitations, but it is extremely fast. I'm interested to see the benchmarks and what sort of setup this router will enable. According to Ars Technica, Lenovo and Acer have WiGig laptops and WiGig docks coming out this year, and hopefully USB 3.0 WiGig cards will come out before the end of the year. I have a need for networking speed.
- Killer Wireless-AC 1535 Review: The MU-MIMO Era Begins
- Samsung Announces 60GHz Wi-Fi (802.11ad)
- Dell Releases Wireless 802.11ad Dock With USB 3.0, Mutli-Display Support
Follow all of our coverage of the show at http://pcper.com/ces!
Subject: Networking | January 6, 2016 - 01:14 PM | Tim Verry
Tagged: wifi extender, mu-mimo, D-Link, 802.11ac
D-Link is using CES to show off several new bits of consumer networking gear including the upcoming DIR-A91 router and a bundled Wi-Fi extender. The Verge was able to get several photos of the networking gear which are available here. Exact specifications are not yet available (D-Link does not have product pages up yet, either), but according to The Verge the DIR-A91 and the DAP-1655 Wi-Fi booster will set you back $470 and will be available in the second half of the year.
Looking at the photos, the DIR-A91 is a smaller version of top end AC3200 and AC3150 routers. It supports 802.11ac with beamforming and will eventually support MU-MIMO with a firmware update. It offers up five RJ45 ports (4 LAN, 1 WAN) and a single USB port. Both the Wi-Fi router and extender each have four external antennas.
The router further supports up to eight of the Wi-Fi extenders (though the bundle only comes with one, they will be sold individually as well) which appear to connect via Ethernet and provide an additional access point. It is not clear if they are alternatively capable of acting as a repeater (connecting to the router over wireless and then offering a new access point).
The price ($470!) is rather steep in my opinion, but if the performance is there the router and extender bundle may be a better option than a single super-router (like the 8 antenna arachnid monsters from ASUS, D-Link, Linksys, et al) for some people if you can run Ethernet to your other floors or the other end of the house (although Powerline Ethernet may be an option it'd be a bottleneck).
Follow all of our coverage of the show at http://pcper.com/ces!