Gigabit routers are equipment suitable for those who want a qualitative connection. The standard in question was created in 1999 and is one of the most used to this day. Capable of reaching a speed of 1Gbps, ten times faster than other technologies, this model is ideal for companies.
Many people and even providers are unaware or do not take into account the functioning of routers and end up choosing them for their price, without making sure that they will be able to meet the specifics of the Gigabit connection.
So, let's clarify these issues and highlight how much speed a router of this type is capable of supporting.
Main Components and How a Fast Ethernet (Non-Gigabit) Router Works
Inside a router, there are three basic components:
- chipset: the main chip of the router, adds several equipment functions, including the CPU;
- Memory: the router's volatile storage;
- Flash: responsible for data storage.
In addition, you generally have five network inputs to which cables are connected. These ports are connected directly to the main processor, which manages the data that travels through the network ports.
In general, the cheapest routers on the market have CPUs of, on average, 500 Mhz and only one core, which is responsible for all programs running on the router and also for managing incoming and outgoing packets.
It is also interesting to note that this processor is also responsible for performing the NAT, which consists of receiving a data packet directed to the router and that will be passed on to internal devices.
In this way, it is up to the chipset to convert the packets obtained to the internal network and send them to the connected devices.
However, it is interesting to note that the information cited refers to connections that use cables. In the case of Wi-Fi, the router has a component (chip) separate, connected directly to the processor and following the same described logic for a cable connection.
In view of the highlighted facts, it is possible to affirm that the problem of the Gigabit router is linked to the low cost processors🇧🇷 When a router uses such a chipset, it cannot handle a lot of information, so only 200 Gigabits per second are processed by the equipment in question.
How does this affect the speed of Gigabit routers?
Due to the low frequency (clock), the CPUs of Most common routers on the market are not able to actually reach Gigabit speeds🇧🇷 This applies to both basic processing and NAT. Thus, manufacturers usually add an additional chip and the network ports connect to it, which would be the equipment's Gigabit bridge, thus raising the packet forwarding speed to close to 1 Gbps.
However, it is important to point out that this chip is not a CPU. In this way, he does not have internal processing and this task keeps happening on the chipset. This creates a second problem.
In general, the chipset has an additional port, which works at a faster speed. However, it has a speed limiter of 1 Gbps, which causes a constraint on maximum speed of CPU-addressable packets.
In practical terms, this means that the processor, in addition to facing problems linked to low frequency (or clock), will still face the limitation of network packet forwarding, so that it is impossible for him to deliver a speed higher than described.
Therefore, when only one computer is connected to the network, it can reach speeds of 1 Gbps in its entirety. However, once other devices connect, the speed will be divided between them.
Even with the Gigabit bridge installed, due to processor limitation, packet forwarding by NAT still needs to be done by the CPU. Thus, the speed in this scenario is still limited to around 200Mbps.
What does it take to reach Gigabit speeds?
For a router to reach Gigabit speeds in any situation, the CPU needs to have a add-on module, PPE, a kind of packet processing engine. It is present in the CPUs of routers with Gigabit interfaces and ensures that they are able to perform accelerated forwarding processes with the Gigabit bridge, such as packet forwarding by NAT.
In the case of computers that are within the same network and communicate through a Gigabit connection, it is not necessary to exchange data represented by NAT.
So, through the PPE, packets that need to be forwarded they don't even use the communication with the processor, since the Gigabit chipset present in the router is able to exchange data. In this scenario, it is possible to communicate at 1 Gbps without major problems.
Other obstacles generated by common Gigabit routers
The issue of processing and packet acceleration poses some obstacles in terms of security services of networks for common market Wi-Fi routers.
In the case of Gigabit routers, you have an additional external chip, so some functionality that the main processor performs in conventional routers needs to be transferred to Gigabit.
This reflects on the functionalities, for example, of VLAN, which allows multiple network connections on the same device. To carry out these activities, the most common routers on the market need to be configured, but even so, they may not have all the CPU resources, which greatly impairs packet processing.
Therefore, providers need to do a careful analysis of the equipment. On that occasion, it is necessary check more than the router chipset. Care must be taken to ensure that even in specific network resource usage scenarios, such as using VLAN or VPN, the equipment's Gigabit speed is assured.
All this also has direct impacts on the issue of security. We take as an example the firewall router internal, managed by the CPU. As routers' Gigabit bridges are usually simpler and do not have dedicated processing, some security rules configured in firewalls of these equipment may not function properly.
In this way, when it is necessary to do the hardware acceleration process (PPE), the data is not analyzed by the CPU and the firewall can be compromised, affecting the security of the network as a whole. The good implementation of the firewall and special services within the router transfer information from the PPE to the CPU when needed.
An implementation detail: conventional Wi-Fi routers usually have data packets analyzed directly in the PPE and later delivered to the CPU when there are special services to be addressed. This can affect packet forwarding speed in case of connection openings, as packets must be passed to the CPU to check for security issues.
That's why, when Anlix ships the Flashbox Solution on each chipset of each router, one of the situations taken into account is precisely this communication with the engine of PPE. When the information is taken to the CPU, it is analyzed whether this communication can be carried out by the engine of PPE and it is the CPU that authorizes it to exchange the remaining data, as a kind of “guard” of the process.
By the way, our experts have already participated in a video on our YouTube channel on precisely the same topic. If you want to dig a little deeper, it's worth watching:
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