With the release of our new Gaming Router (DGL-5500) with StreamBoost technology, many of you have been asking, “what’s the difference between StreamBoost traffic shaping and the standard QoS on other D-Link 11AC routers?” Good question and we would like to explain the differences but we must warn you – things are about to get real…real technical that is, so get ready. Bandwidth management has become more important than ever. The rise of online video streaming services and fast paced multi-player games has pushed the envelope of what is considered “acceptable internet access”. We are now surrounded by devices that store, manage, self-update, game and ultimately compute in the cloud. Game consoles offer multi-player experiences that are as graphically deep and immersive as their single player counterparts. Movies stream from cloud servers in Blu-ray quality with minimal load times. Entire offices of employees’ backup data to cloud based servers from their homes. This all means one thing: the average consumer’s internet connection is under more demand than ever before.
The Problem With Conventional NAT Routers
Traditional routers handle packets on a first come, first serve basis. To understand why this is we must first understand traditional networking. Networks were never designed to allow for the rate of IP growth that the internet and home networks have seen. To accommodate this growth and provide a layer of security, the NAT style network router was developed. Using a combination of NAT (Network Address Translation) and PAT (Port Address Translation), a single public IP Address could be shared by the entire home. While a revolutionary step forward, it wasn’t without its limitations. Early generations of NAT CPUs were usually low power, limited devices often built on early MIPs or ARM CPUs. NATs were able to provide low power cost effective home networking but throughput and capability were low. During this time the focus of the developing “consumer networking” devices was increased throughput in the NAT CPU.
Quality of Service (QoS)
Growth of computer networks and subsequently the “Internet” forced NAT hardware developers to refine their packet handling through the NAT. To accomplish this the newer, more sensitive traffic consumer devices borrowed from the older, more developed Telecom functions resulting in a simplified version of QoS designed for the home user. It allowed a user to specify a priority for a given IP address on a pre-selected port number, for outbound (to the internet) traffic. This freed up much of the congestion caused by lower up-link bandwidths being provided by ISPs but was far from perfect in that it was a ‘Best Effort’ technology, meaning that there were no guarantees that the QoS priorities would be respected by the NAT. It also meant that only outbound traffic would be handled according to these new rules as any incoming traffic would already be at the NAT and therefore couldn’t be throttled due to limited RAM and CPU resources.
Once again borrowing from an older Telecom or Enterprise level technology, Traffic Shaping allows the network appliance to partition and reserve sections of internet connection bandwidth while still accelerating lower bandwidth, latency sensitive application packets. Traditionally this was done by statically assigning bandwidth in bit(s) or Megabit(s), and would generally waste the bandwidth if those applications were not being used at that point. This means that unlike QoS, if you have a 15Mb pipe and you reserve 5Mbs for video and no video is being watched, that 5 Mbs is still not available to the greater pool.
Dynamic Traffic Shaping & Packet Priority
The advent of services like online video streaming, VoIP calling and video calling, Online Gaming and others packet delay was now the primary cause of concern with NAT hardware and since these services are highly sensitive to this delay, commonly referred to as LAG, ordering packet delivery was essential. As the IPC (Instructions Per Cycle) of lower power ARM and MIPS (as well as others) increased and power consumption was steadied, more and more instructions sets could be run concurrently within the NAT CPU while maintaining an acceptable level of throughput performance. Dynamic Bandwidth allocation coupled with Packet Ordering enables technologies such as StreamBoost to maximize WAN network efficiency, making the most of limited home bandwidth. It has the best of both “Traffic Shaping” and “QoS”, with none of their given drawbacks. It’s able to dynamically assign bandwidth segmentation rules to traffic passing in and out of the NAT, but it can also forward latency sensitive packets. This means that the benefits of QoS are expanded with the ability to dynamically allocate bandwidth where it’s needed and unlike QoS, Traffic Shaping is able to do this by detecting the application not simply the port that the application is running on. Pick up D-Link’s Gaming Router AC1300 with StreamBoost Technology (DGL-5500) today to see for yourself how Traffic Shaping can benefit your home network.