Gigabit Linux Routers

Soucy, Ray rays at
Thu Dec 18 19:45:28 UTC 2008

We spent a good amount of time looking into deploying a home-grown
Linux-based CPE device over the summer.

Generally, Linux is not the issue with performance.  You want to focus
on your hardware.

We've seen the best performance with Intel MT series PCI-X server NICs.
When we were testing the PCI-e cards were still underperforming, but
they may have improved recently.  The Intel cards have significantly
better driver support in Linux so you will prob. want to stay away from
anything without an Intel chipset.

We also went with a low-end server-grade box from Dell (PowerEdge 840 w/
Dual core Xeon 3040 1.86 GHz, 1066 MHz FSB) which proved to be more than
adequate.  We used a tower for the text box to cut costs, but you would
probably want something rack-mountable.

With our setup we were able to sustain about 970 Mbps.

Ultimately, we stopped because Quagga lacked any multicast support (we
need PIM-SM).  We recently looked at XORP as a possibility, and it
works... but lacks the level of logging and control you would expect for
a production environment.

Vyatta recently announced a shift from XORP to Quagga so Quagga may see
some new functionality.  We also found IP Infusion which is being
advertised as a complete solution, but when we tried to talk to them
about getting a demo they seemed hesitant to work with us on anything
beyond what Quagga already does (I'm guessing that they don't really
have anything and it's all advertising).

If all you're looking for is basic routing though, it might be
worthwhile just getting a Vyatta appliance.


-----Original Message-----
From: Chris [mailto:chris at] 
Sent: Wednesday, December 17, 2008 9:03 AM
To: nanog list
Subject: Gigabit Linux Routers

Hi All,
Sorry if this is a repeat topic. I've done a fair bit of trawling but
find anything concrete to base decisions on.

I'm hoping someone can offer some advice on suitable hardware and kernel
tweaks for using Linux as a router running bgpd via Quagga. We do this
the moment and our box manages under the 100Mbps level very effectively.
Over the next year however we expect to push about 250Mbps outbound
with very little inbound (50Mbps simultaneously) and I'm seeing
suggestions of what to do in order to move up to the 1Gbps level.

It seems even a dual core box with expensive NICs and some kernel tweaks
will accomplish this but we can't afford to get the hardware purchases
wrong. We'd be looking to buy one live and one standby box within the
month or so. They will only run Quagga primarily with 'tc' for shaping.
We're in the UK if it makes any difference.

Any help massively appreciated, ideally from those doing the same in
production environments.



More information about the NANOG mailing list