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Sunday, April 17, 2011

Speed does matter

In today's world, speed does matter.

We want to arrive as fast as possible to our works, to our homes, to our beds.

Then why are we still using slow networks in our homes?

When we have more than one computer in our homes, we usually connect them using an ISP provided switch, either by wireless or using cabled ethernet.

And those equipment is limited to a theorical limit of 54 Mbps when wireless, 100 Mbps when cabled. Even if our computers do support 300 Mbps wireless or 1000 Mbps cabled, we are limited by that piece of hardware, the slowest one, the switch.

And speed DOES matter, a lot indeed.

I did a little test using netstrain, a simple command line utility that being run on two computers measures the speed of the network between them.

Theorically a 100 Mbps cabled link should be able to transfer up to 12 Megabytes per second, in practice netstrain showed a slower speed of 8 Megabytes in practice.

Using a not so expensive Gigabit (1000 Mbps) switch gives a theorical transfer up to 120 Megabytes per second, 78 Megabytes per second in practice.

Yes, that's a 10 times faster speed, using just a 25 € Gigabit switch!!!

That means that transferring a file will take 10 times less time!

Stop using that crappy switch, spend a little bucks and get a Gigabit switch.

And forget all about wireless, unless there is a real and important need for it.

Cable is efficient to 80%, wireless is efficient to 60% under ideal conditions.
That ideal conditions stop to exist when you turn your microwave owen on, your neighbor receives a phone call in his new wireless phone, or you live in a building filled with ISP gifted wireless switches (like mine, with 25 different wireless networks on sight), making wireless efficiency fall to 10% and online gaming an impossible achievement.