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 From:  Chris Buechler <cbuechler at gmail dot com>
 To:  m0n0wall at lists dot m0n0 dot ch
 Subject:  Re: [m0n0wall] PIX vs m0n0wall testing -- requesting input (was: Re: [m0n0wall] Re: Re: Re: to Wrap or to Soekris that is my question? What about VIA?)
 Date:  Sat, 18 Dec 2004 11:44:11 -0500
On Sat, 18 Dec 2004 14:35:55 -0000, Chris Bagnall <m0n0wall at minotaur dot cc> wrote:
> I must confess to being rather cynical about these Soekris and WRAP
> platforms. If you shop around you can find very compact PCs these days that
> still run on mostly standard hardware (just about all the
> Biostar/Iwill/Shuttle SFF boxes, for example). Given that Sempron chips in
> the 2200+ to 2600+ range are currently around £40 (that's probably around
> $70 - no doubt they're cheaper over the other side of the pond anyway), for
> under £200 you'd have an SFF box with an onboard NIC (some of them have 2
> onboard, shop around). Nearly all these SFF boxes have at least one PCI
> slot, so shove a dual-port Intel Pro/100+ card into there and you've got a
> *very* fast platform to work with. For about the same price as a complete
> Soekris/WRAP configuration you've got a compact PC with many times the
> processing power, and the ability to upgrade to gigabit cards in the future
> if/when required.

I just spec'ed a Biostar, 128 MB DDR, and a Sempron 2200+ CPU, from
newegg.com at $285.50 USD, not including shipping.  (yeah, you could
probably get a bit cheaper if you shop around, but when you order from
newegg you know the stuff is actually in stock when they say it is,
and one piece isn't going to be cheap while everything else is really

Add a two port NIC off ebay at probably $25, and a IDE to CF adapter
at about $20, and you have a $330 USD box.  Oh, and I forgot a
heatsink, so add another $15, so $345.

Advantage - it'd be a lot faster I'm sure.  But, you're missing one of
the main benefits of the WRAP/Soekris platform.  No noise, very low
power consumption, no moving parts to fail.  On that box, you lose a
CPU fan or PS fan, and you're dead in the water.  Given my luck with
PC fans in general, I don't like that risk.  :)

But most importantly, why spend nearly twice as much, when a WRAP or
Soekris will push 3-5+ times as much internet bandwidth as they have? 
It'll be many years until most of my clients have more than 10-15 Mb
of internet bandwidth.  Most have 3.0/384, 1.5/256, or a frac to a
full T1.

> I'd be very interested to see how m0n0wall performs using a reasonable
> budget on standard PC hardware (not dissimilar from what I've listed above).
> If the PIX still beats it on routing performance I'd be quite surprised (and
> somewhat upset ;-) ).

I have a P3 733 test box that I'll test and report back.  Not a
screamer, but should blow the WRAP and Soekris boards out of the

> To my mind m0n0wall's greatest advantage is its ability to run quite happily
> on standard PC hardware. That's good for my clients in that they can use an
> old, retired PC for the task with just a few modifications (mainly a couple
> of extra NICs) and good for the environment (fewer PCs being dumped). 

You could also say a WRAP or Soekris using 1/10th the power is good
for the environment.  :)   (might not be 1/10th, but it's a lot less)

> There
> must be thousands of old PCs out there that have gone past their usefulness
> as office machines but would still make perfect firewall/routers. Software
> like m0n0wall gives them a new lease of life.

There are, and that's exactly what I'd be running at home if I hadn't
have gotten all my Soekris gear for free though a project I worked on.
 For my clients, embedded is the way to go for reliability.