Hardware analysis

Sandy bridge, Ivy bridge, Haswell and the mess of Intel processors feature list

Written by Gionatan Danti on . Posted in Hardware analysis

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Current microprocessors are very complex beasts. To develop an high-performance CPU architecture, you not only need many very smart engineers, but much time (3-5 years) and money (in the order of billions $$$). Moreover, bleeding-edge fabrication plants are incredibly expensive, and they must be continuously upgraded to newer process technologies.

So, it is perfectly understandable that both AMD and Intel (the two main x86 players) try to differentiate they offer, selling processors that spans from 50$ to ~1000$, a range of about 20X. While they want to sell you the most high-price (and high-margin) processors, they also realize that, as the market is very cost-sensitive, the bulk of R&D and production costs must be spread over a very large, low-profit product base. On top of that, all their processors must perform at least decently, or user will loudly complain (hello, Atom users!).

Cyberoam CR25ia UTM firewall review - throughput and latecy examined

Written by Gionatan Danti on . Posted in Hardware analysis

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Today, we are going to review one of Cyberoam's smallest UTM device, the Cyberoam CR25ia. This metal-looking appliance is a 100% UTM-enabled device, capable of url/content filtering, antivirus / applications inspection and IDS/IPS analysis. You can read the full Cyberoam CR25ia product specifications here, while you can download an even more detailed PDF here.

Current bare hardware list price is 563€ (+ 86€ for yearly 8x5 maintenance & support), while for a complete UTM solution you need the UTM license which costs another 216€, bringing total cost to 779€. While these are not dirty-cheap prices, they are considerably lower then similar UTM devices from other vendors, sometime by a great margin. Analyzing CR25ia, keep in mind its price advantage.

List price are obviously subject to change; however, you can not expect prices to excessively fall down: we are dealing with a very capable device that boasts 4 Gigabit Ethernet ports and  interesting UTM throughput, as Cyberoam certifies a ~50 Mbit/s full UTM (antivirus + IDS/IPS) performance. Firewall and VPN specifications are quite high, being rated at 450/225 Mbit/s (for UDP and TCP traffic respectively) and 75  Mbit/s for AES-encrypted traffic. On the other hand, 3DES performance is rated at only 30 Mb/sec.

Big Kepler (GK100 / GK110) speculations based on GK104 die

Written by Gionatan Danti on . Posted in Hardware analysis

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On March 22, 2012 Nvidia launched its latest graphic chips, codenamed GK104. This chip, powering the high-end GeForce GTX 680, proved to be a formidable contender for AMD cards.

However, while the newly launched GeForce GTX 680 is indisputably an high-end card, the GK104 chip itself seems a little “small” for Nvidia's standard: it weight at about 294 mm2 only. This, combined to the removal (eg: ECC memory protection), or attenuation (eg: very low FP64 rate) of certain GP-GPU specific features, leave the door opened to the future presentation of a new, bigger, GP-GPU-centric chip.

This article try to elaborate on GK104 die size and features to project some possible solutions for the bigger GK100 / GK110 processor. Remember that these are speculations only! Final GK100 / GK110 can be very different from what we expect.

UPDATE: it seems that Big Kepler chip's codename will be GK110 rather than GK100. I updated the article to reflect this.

SonicWall TZ100 UTM firewall review - throughput and latency examined

Written by Gionatan Danti on . Posted in Hardware analysis

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The smallest member of SonicWall's UTM firewall is the SonicWall TZ100, or TZ100 in short. This little, white-looking appliance, albeit low-end, is a 100% UTM-enabled device, capable of url/content filtering, antivirus inspection and IDS/IPS analysis. You can read the full SonicWall TZ 100 product specifications here, while you can download the complete SonicWall TZ's series PDF datasheet from http://www.sonicwall.com/emea/488_6392.html

Current bare hardware list price is 295$, while a 1 year UTM licenze (yes, you need a license for that) costs another 225$. If you buy the TotalSecure 100 bundle (hardware + 1 year license), list price is at 465$. List price are obviously subject to change; however, you can not expect prices to fall down by a great amount. The point is that we are dealing with a very capable SonicOS-based appliance that boast 5 Fast Ethernet port and quite interesting UTM throughput, as SonicWall state a ~25 Mbit/s full UTM (antivirus + IDS/IPS) performance. Firewall and VPN specifications are quite respectable, being rated at 100 Mbit/s and 75 Mbit/s respectively.

AMD Bulldozer vs Sandy Bridge and K10 performance and benchmark analysis

Written by Gionatan Danti on . Posted in Hardware analysis

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On 12 October 2011 AMD disclose its new flagship CPU: the Bulldozer-based FX-8150 processor. Equipped with 16 MB L2/L3 caches, eight integer cores and four beefed-up FMAC FPUs, the new architecture sound very promising.

However, as many online reviewers discovered, the new AMD Bulldozer architecture didn't performs so well, especially in desktop workloads. Sure, in many cases it was a significant improvement versus the old K10-based PhenomII processors. At the same time, it fail to impress in a large number of tests.

The key question is: why? Why the new AMD processor, with its massive 16 MB cache and 1.2B total transistors number, barely outperform the old Phenom processors? And why sometime it is even slower? This article is going to shed some light on the problem.