Let's take a quick inside look at the G V5 and GL V1.1. Figure 1 shows a photo of the WRT54G V5 board. That's a Broadcom BCM 5352 processor with embedded 10/100 switch and the radio is under the shielding at the lower left of the photo. As mentioned earlier, RAM and flash have been cut in half and weigh in at 8 and 2 MB respectively.
Figure 1: Linksys WRT54G V5 Board (click to enlarge)
The WRT54GL V1.1 board in Figure 2 is very similar to the G V5, uses the BCM5325 processor and has 16 MB of RAM and 4 MB of flash.
Figure 2: Linksys WRT54GL V1.1 Board (click to enlarge)
And so that you can see how far the WRT54G has come, here's a shot of my original WRT54G (now called V1) board. Note the mini-PCI card radio and Broadcom BCM4702 processor. There's a separate ADMtek ADM6996 switch chip that handles both WAN and LAN Ethernet ports because the BCM4702 doesn't have an embedded switch. By the way, if you'd like the component details of the other versions, check out OpenWrt's TableOfHardware.
Figure 3: Original WRT54G Board (click to enlarge)
So you now know the background for the change. Let's see if the V5 really is a step backward in terms of performance and reliability.