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The gigabit Ethernet standard will soon be 22 years old. Until now, it is precisely gigabit networks that work for almost all home users and in the vast majority of offices. Overcoming the gigabit limit was … complicated, thorny and ambiguous. And while for large infrastructure enterprises the issue of 10-, 20- and even 40-gigabit Ethernet has long been resolved, for home and office accelerating network communications beyond one gigabit is not always a trivial task. About how to organize a multi-gigabit network at home using a regular network cable, – in this article.
A bit of history
The official year of adoption of the standard describing 10-gigabit Ethernet (10GE, 10GbE or 10 GigE) is considered the 2002th (IEEE 802.3ae-2002), but this standard described data transmission exclusively via fiber. Fiber-optic 10-gigabit networks are widespread in narrow circles, however, for home use it is not very rational to use fiber: expensive, difficult, usually noisy and not too flexible.
Two years later, a 10-gigabit speed was standardized on a copper twinaxial cable (almost coaxial, with only two wires). And only in 2006, 10 Gbps were achieved in twisted-pair copper with a characteristic crimp connector, well known to anyone who had connected a network device at least once. It is this standard, 10GBASE-T, that is of interest to home users, and we will talk about it today (and its newer but less fast brothers – 2.5GBASE-T and 5GBASE-T).
Of particular interest is the classical method of link aggregation, which often allows achieving the goal without updating the network infrastructure. We will also talk about this method, as well as about the accompanying pitfalls and myths surrounding it.
Why do you need this at home?
What is multigigabit home switching for? No, in the case of infrastructure enterprises and data centers, this question does not even arise, but at home? Why, if you do not take into account the crazy hands and excess free time?
Firstly (and, probably, lastly) – multigigabit switching is needed if you use network storage. Any, even the slowest hard drive, which will be installed in the NAS from Synology, QNAP or Asustor, will more than overcome the barrier imposed by the gigabit link. Even a single hard drive is capable of providing read / write speeds of the order of 225 MB / s on external tracks, at least 110–119 MB / s on the internal and about 150 MB / s in the middle. If you use a "mirrored" RAID, the read speed will double, and if you take RAID 0, then the write speed will double. Thus, the gigabit link becomes the very bottleneck, which does not allow to reveal all the potential inherent in network storage and modern hard drives.
One of the options is to abandon the NAS and switch to DAS (Direct Attached Storage, the notorious external cases with USB), but the scenario for their use differs markedly from the scenario for using network attached storage.
Another alternative would be the aggregation of Ethernet ports – if your network attached storage has at least two network outputs. However, such a solution has almost more pitfalls than a multi-gigabit network. First, aggregation needs to be configured not only in the NAS, but also on each client device, which means that you will have to add a second network adapter to each computer that requires high speed data access. Moreover, it is required to lay not one, but two network cables – both towards the NAS, and towards the computer. Finally, you will need a switch with enough free ports. And if you still have to buy a second network adapter and a new switch, then why not take it right away with multi-gigabit network support? However, we’ll also talk about how to configure aggregation – and there are serious reasons for this, even if you are concerned about buying a multi-gigabit switch.
Let's start with the selection of components.
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