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We Have A Failure To Communicate

I also recently changed my router test procedures to see how many simultaneous sessions routers will support. You usually won't find this parameter specified by any consumer router manufacturer, but it is important for both online gaming and for P2P file sharing applications. In spite of the negative connotation that P2P currently has, the recent BitTorrent / Warner Brothers Home Entertainment announcement is just a precursor of things to come. Router manufacturers would be smart to make sure their products can handle P2P since it is likely to soon be an important part of a legitimate digital entertainment distribution system.

Since the complaints I saw about the V5 included packet loss and problems with P2P, I figured that I would see how the GL and V5 performed with my simultaneous connection test. The test used the same two computers that I used for the previous tests and also the same modified IxChariot throughput.scr script.

I first ran a one-hour test with 180 connections (the maximum for my IxChariot license) between the two computers connected via a 10/100 switch to make sure that the computers themselves could handle the traffic. The 180 tests were evenly split with 90 test pairs for receive and transmit each. The test passed with no problems and Figure 10 shows a portion of the test results including a plot that shows well-behaved and evenly-shared throughput.

Figure 10: Results of one hour 180 pair throughput test

Figure 10: Results of one hour 180 pair throughput test (click to enlarge)

I then took the basic up / down throughput test and duplicated up/down pairs to expand the number of simultaneous connections in the test. All tests ran for one minute, which did not include the time it took IxChariot to establish communication between all test endpoints at the start of each test. Table 1 summarizes the results of the test and confirms that the WRT54G V5's problems with P2P applications are not due to users' imaginations!

Test (# of connections) WRT54G V5 WRT54GL V1.1
1 pair (2) Passed Passed
4 pair (8) Passed -
8 pair (16) Failed -
16 pair (32) Failed Passed
32 pair (64) Failed Passed (30 mins)
64 pair (128) - Failed
Table 1: Summary of Simultaneous Connection test
("-" = Test not performed)

Even though the V5 appears to be more well behaved than the GL with a single simultaneous up/down pair (compare Figures 6 and 9), it fails miserably when attempting to handle upwards of 16 simultaneous continuous connections! The good news is that the V5 didn't lock up entirely and need to be rebooted after failing.

To make matters worse, when the V5 is managing to handle multiple connection streams, its throughput sharing among streams is terrible as shown in Figure 11, which shows 16 connections.

Figure 11: V5 16 connection throughput sharing

Figure 11: V5 16 connection throughput sharing (click to enlarge)

As a point of comparison, Figure 12 shows how the GL does with 32 simultaneous connections.

Figure 12: GL 32 connection throughput sharing

Figure 12: GL 32 connection throughput sharing (click to enlarge)

While the GL's ability to evenly distribute throughput among multiple connections isn't anything to write home about, it certainly does a better job than the V5. But I've seen much less expensive routers such as Zonet's ZSR0104CP do a better job, as shown in Figure 13.

Figure 13: Zonet ZSR0104CP 32 connection throughput sharing

Figure 13: Zonet ZSR0104CP 32 connection throughput sharing (click to enlarge)

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