Mailing List Message #14890
From: Bill Cole <>
Subject: Re: Wandering off-topic II: gigabit routers
Date: Thu, 2 Dec 2004 20:26:43 -0500
To: SIMS Discussions <>
At 10:39 AM -0500 12/2/04, Stefan Jeglinski  imposed structure on a stream of electrons, yielding:
Since we've strayed into this area, I hope listers don't mind this secondary discussion. SIMS is humming right along now anyway, I haven't had to bother with it for, um, 176 days now.

[ with apologies to Bill Cole, who if he ever gets my e-mail filtered out of his postmaster acct may see me asking him the same question off-line 8-0 ]

Anyway... I'm "helping" someone who knows even less about this than me, but is somehow graced with a &^%#^$ gigaabit fiber connection into his home (not in US by the way), with computers (Mac!) in the home that all have gigabit ethernet. Ignoring for a moment the fact that most of the rest of the internet will be limiting his bandwidth...

Which is a very real issue. Gigabit upstream in one fat link makes sense for a few very special situations, but for most entities including most businesses, it's pointless. Unless that link goes straight to another net where you have a heavy-duty core and things you need to get to very fast or to something equivalent to a NAP with at least a dozen providers hooked in, you'll be very hard-pressed to do more than a 100MB link would give you.

Given said connection, is there a box one would buy that would be the equivalent of the more common firewall/router solutions, only 10x faster?

IOW, these days one spends $50 on a Netgear/Dlink/Linksys box with a 10BT WAN connection and a 10/100 switch for the LAN connection. Is there instead a box that does 1000BT on the WAN side with a 10/100/1000 switch on the LAN side? Does one have to go to a full industrial grade gigabit router and the associated $$$ to get this?

Yes. You are probably going to have a very hard time getting in under $1500.

I'm guessing also that we may need to be more precise with words here. Whereas the aforementioned Netgear et al solutions are more aptly described as NAT'd firewalls (are they not?), does one jump to full router status with the gigabit stuff? Besides, if the NAT'd firewall box has a static routing table that can be modified, why is it not actually a router?

Often they really are.

I have a Linksys WRT54G router/AP that is actually a tiny solid-state Linux device, and without any of the multiple 3rd-party hacks for it, I can (and have) switched it from being a 'gateway' (i.e. a NAT device) into being a real router. I can add and delete routes, although without an alternative firmware load that is rather limited.

I've googled on gigabit router, but the language seems to be different from "here's the WAN side, here's the LAN side, plug in both and configure and you're done." Plus, it seems that gigabit for the industrial-grade stuff is generally many gigabits, not just 1Gbit.

It's generally gigabit ports (full-duplex, so they say 2gig...) with fat backplanes that can handle dozens of gigabits per second of total throughput between all ports. Since these things are often in fact layer-3 managed switches, all ports can be active at once and in theory handling a gig in each direction on each port.

I'm just looking for a link to get me started learning about this, if anybody knows of one. An actual discussion would be keen.

I don't know of particular links to get a primer, but I seem to recall that both Cisco and Netgear have useful information beyond the sales brochures...

Bill Cole                        

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