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 Agere ORiNOCO RG-1000 Residential Gateway

Page 4 

 Author: Tim Higgins
 Review Date: 11/7/2000


 

How fast is it?

The RG-1000 and Silver PC card client turned in typical 802.11b performance at close range, but had problems near the range limit:

Test Description

Transfer Rate (Mbps)

Qcheck Response Time (msec)
[10 iterations 100byte data size]

Qcheck UDP stream 
[10S@100Kbps]

File Xfr

Qcheck

(Actual throughput- kbps)

(Lost data- %)

AP to Client - Condition 1

2.8

 3.8

< 5

550

 0.1

AP to Client - Condition 2

2.9

 3.8

< 5

550

 0.1

AP to Client - Condition 3

2.7

 1.7

< 10

330

 0.1

AP to Client - Condition 4

2.4

 0.4

< 15

360

 0.1

(Details of how we tested can be found here.) 

The interesting tests are Conditions 3 and 4.  The low (and conflicting) numbers are due to the ORiNOCO driver's behavior of dropping to 5.5Mbps mode when the Signal-to-Noise (SNR) value was around 9-10dB.  Antenna position for the Condition 3 and 4 tests was very critical and the numbers shown could be changed dramatically by moving the laptop a foot or so or by rotating it to a different position.  Since there isn't a way to force the rate mode, the only thing you can do is try different antenna positions if you have a marginal signal condition.  I did find that the Test History feature was helpful in diagnosing the cause of the slow performance.

The "Qcheck" column under "Transfer Rate" uses netIQ's free QCheck utilityThe column lists the results of a Qcheck TCP Throughput test, using a 1000kByte test data size.  Qcheck tends to show higher throughput numbers than my simple file transfer test because it takes some transfer overhead out of it's calculation.

We've found interesting results using the UDP streaming test on routers, so thought we'd give it a shot with the ORiNOCO products.  The interesting result is that although the "Actual throughput" number dropped with range, the "Lost Data" value was very low.  Looks like the 802.11b error correction works pretty well!

 

Summary

I'm not saying that I'm the smartest guy in the world, but given the exposure I get to a wide range of products, I think I can tell when one is going to give the average user a hard time.  The RG-1000 is one of those products.  Once you get it working, it works well, but the hassle that many users will have setting it up may make them give up in frustration.

On the positive side, the Silver PC Card wireless client performed as well as the average 802.11b card and had the best diagnostic displays that I've seen.  But the inability to force a bit rate and the driver's tendency to keep switching between bit rates near the range limit could make you wish you'd chosen another card that gives you control over these parameters.

So as long as you're ok with using the RG1000 as a wireless to Ethernet bridge, go ahead and give it a shot.  Just leave the routing chores to something more suited to the task.

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