CHR – Now faster and more efficient!

I’ve finally had some time to pull drag a monitor up into the attic to make some changes to the ESXi server that hosts my CHR. After some extensive reading on the MikroTik forum, it looks to read that a virtual CHR benefits from a “real” core and not a virtual one, in some cases virtual cores hindering performance! Even though my residential 55/15 connection isn’t going to set the world alight, I want to do some really in depth packet inspection next year so having raw performance is top of my list.

The changes I’ve made were to move the server BIOS performance setting from “OS Control” which was initially set to try and minimise noise in the cave to maximum performance, a few packets made there maybe?

The second big change was to turn off the hyperthreading on my Xeon. When I bought the Xeon I went out of my way to buy one with 4c/8t for maximum cores but RouterOS itself is very single core based and can’t multi-thread so single core efficiency is key. It also benefits from L3 cache so splitting the cache between 4 rather than 8 helps more so. There is also some heat efficiency to be made by running the processor without HT which counter balances the BIOS performance setting which could increase heat.

Overall testing without firewall now yields a far healthier 10+Gbps speedtesting to itself on a single core compared to the previous 7(ish).

All will be undone though if/when rOS7 launches with multicore!

CHR CPU Upgrade

Its been on my mind for a while that the CPU in my CHR wasn’t setting the world on fire, it was great for what it was doing and it was low powered but as I start and do more with my CHR, maybe start to look at a dude server and do some more advanced packet marking and processing I wanted something with more oomph!

I’ve now upgraded from a Xeon E3-1220L to an E3-1270. That’s a boost in base clock from 2.2Ghz to 3.4Ghz and a big step from 2c4t to 4c8t. I managed to do a small amount of testing before and after and whilst the difference from what has been done is negligible at this point, I’m expecting that as I burden the CPU more it will withstand the pressure for longer.

Before upgrade;

After CPU upgrade, same ESXi settings so this is “just” the core speed improvement;

This is the performance after shutting the machine down and applying the additional CPU cores;

 

Concluding my testing, a 400Mb increase in pushing traffic to itself from the CPU core speed upgrade, nothing to be sniffed at I guess, the traffic was also a bit more stable at this speed as opposed to the previous CPU.

Back to a CHR?

Friday 13th was an exciting one in my household! Not only did I kill the internet for everyone for a good 3 hour period whilst I swapped from an Ikea Lack table to a “real” 6U cabinet causing huge disruption when my planned single patch panel turned into 3! I also fired up old faithful and stuck on a fresh copy of the latest (6.42.6) CHR into my VM box.

Now I have my spare ESXi box housed in the attic in a real rack it means I don’t need it screaming away in the cave so I can finally move back to a CHR build and keep it. My rough maths says the CHR unit will have around 4-5 times the performance of the RB3011 which will now get moved to the cave as a dedicated VLAN breakout switch (or maybe sold) but ultimately I can employ some far more complex queues without worrying that I’m running the CPU up too far.

My long term plan is to SFQ my LAN traffic but then pick out particular traffic types from that and SFQ them against each other whilst doing some PFIFO pulling them all together. I’ll try to document as much as I can but in short it will be a huge amount of packet marking so CPU grunt is needed. I’m even now tempted to look at upgrading the CPU so it’s more than a dual core!

Fun times ahead.

CHR completed! But not how I hoped it would be

My long ongoing build of a 1U ESXi server to run CHR on has come to an end, a frustrating end that meant I simply couldn’t live with the noise it was kicking out because of the 40mm fans and constantly comparing it to my massively overpowered i7 mATX fileserver.

As a fairly large change to the home setup I decided to pull apart about 3 of my home servers and rebuild the main storage into the spare N54L and then rebuild the “Node” into an ESXi server to host the CHR. Quad port NIC in the Node and a quick install onto the Crucial M4 128GB and it was up and running, installed the CHR and it’s moving along really well and actually turning about double the traffic capability of what the “older” Xeon was doing!

So a really big shuffle around but now I feel like I’m actually starting to do my i7 some justice and not just using it for a ridiculously overpowered power hungry file server.

Whilst doing the work I had the dog in the cave with me (not that she was much help)

Transitional Week Ubuntu to Windows

This week has been a bit of a milestone week for me in computing. Traditionally I’ve always maintained a Windows for gaming and Linux/Ubuntu for my work.

I’ve been keeping a track of the whole Bash on Windows thing though, as much as I do/did love my Ubuntu machines I did find myself getting a bit aggravate, simple things like Winbox not fully working as well as it should, not being able to use my copy of Adobe PS CS. Jobs where I’d normally switch my Windows machine on and then RDP into it to complete the work.

So this week I’ve made a joint move and moved both my laptop and work desktop over to Windows 10 with the alluring factor being that I won’t lose all the benefits or command-line-fu I’ve learned from my now 5 years on the CLI with Ubuntu.

An honest and unbiased review here, I’m in a great place. Windows 10 is great to use, it feels faster around the desktop and doing simple things like web browsing with Firefox. I’ve got PS back and I’m really enjoying not having to use apps which are like a cheap knock off of the “real” thing.

I’m really happy using the Windows Store in fact as well, there are some great usability apps now such as Plex an Amazon music which just bring that better level of integration to the whole experience. Also L2TP/IPSEC works without any messing about! Amazing times!

So that’s where my week has been, I’ve been concentrating on that as well as trying to put some effort into the CHR build I’ve got going on. Hopefully over the weekend the CHR build will complete and I’ll bring that up and online and I’ve recently had to do some work bringing up a guest network so I have a great video planned on ensuring they get a filtered experience that can’t be worked around!