You are reading Maximum PC because you love to build, and tweak your rig. We will gladly spend hours trying to nudge a few extra clock cycles out of our CPU’s, but why do so many of us refuse to touch our network settings? The vast majority of users simply plug in their network cables, cross their fingers, and sacrifice an AOL CD to the gods who keep Conficker at bay. Truth be told, without going into too much depth up front, there is a really easy way to boost your surfing speed and it requires very little effort at all. This same tool gives you the ability to customize your internet experience further by creating URL shortcuts, or even filtering content, all without extra software.
The tool we are referring to is Domain Name System, or DNS for short. In a nutshell, DNS is your phone book for the internet. It helps translate a friendly internet domain like www.maximumpc.com, into IP address that our computer needs to find servers on the internet. Each time you visit a new website, a DNS query is issued in the background, and you’re none the wiser. Internet service providers supply DNS to all their customers, but these servers tend to be overpopulated, and certainly aren’t a priority to them because it’s difficult for the average user to measure performance. Power users are intimately familiar with how to benchmark raw connection speeds, but before that even becomes a factor, your machine needs IP address which is supplied by your DNS. Even if your smoking fast Fiber Optic connection can handle 18 Mbps, if your ISP’s DNS server wastes several seconds looking up your favorite website, you connection may be sitting in limbo when you could be surfing instead.
Interested in finding out how to improve the responsiveness of your connection and learning more about your DNS options? Hit the jump to find out more.
Looking for a dual-band router so you can run two independent Wi-Fi networks, using one frequency band for data and the second for streaming media? Scratch the DGL-4500 off your list, because D-Link’s definition of “dual-band” means operating on either the 2.4GHz band or the 5.0GHz band—not both at the same time.
When we think of a dual-band router, we envision something like the Linksys WRT600N we’ve been using as a reference point. That device has separate 802.11n Draft 2.0 radios that enable us to run two independent wireless networks. That’s not to say the DGL-4500 is a lousy router; in fact, it delivered far superior performance at long distances than the WRT600N. Where the Linksys box is nearly useless when our Wi-Fi client is outside our test home—delivering throughput of just 0.7Mb/s at one exterior location and 1.2Mb/s at the other—the D-Link delivered exceptional throughput of 18.0Mb/s and 6.44Mb/s, respectively.
If Marvell has its way, plug computers will soon become commonplace. The company today announced its Plug Computing initiative, which seeks to make always-on computing not only more flexible and easy-to-use than it is today, but also more environmentally friendly compared to a typical desktop or laptop PC.
A plug computer is essentially a small embedded computer that plugs into a wall socket and hooks into your home network via an Ethernet cable. It can then run network-based services that would typically be handled by a desktop or laptop. Marvell's SheevaPlug platform, for example, comes equipped with a Kirkwood embedded processor based on an embedded 1.2GHz Sheeva CPU, 512MB of flash memory, and 512MB of DDR2 memory.
Gigabit Ethernet may still outrun all but the most extreme SSD Raid configurations, but researchers can never rest on their laurels. Always hoping to invent the next big thing, scientists now have their sights set on Terabit Ethernet to help quell our insatiable hunger for bandwidth. A team from Australia, Denmark, and China has combined their efforts to demonstrate terabit-per-second speeds using fiber optic cables, laser light, and an unusual material named chalcogenide.
The group documented the results of its most recent trial in a white paper published in the February 16th 2009 issue of Optics Express. Though the technology is promising, Ben Eggleton, research director for CUDOS (Center for Ultrahigh bandwidth Devices for Optical Systems), points out the current limitations. “The problem isn't injecting that much high speed data into an optical strand, called multiplexing, but retrieving data at such high rates”. Conventional electronics are capable of injecting dozens of 10 Gbps streams, but trying to retrieve these streams any faster than 40 Gbps is beyond our current capabilities.
The breakthrough here however isn’t in the speed itself, but in proving the concept.Until the processing hardware catches up with our transmission capabilities, you won’t be finding this in routers anytime soon. Eggleton speculates that these concepts can be adapted to achieve slower and more manageable results, but the goal of this experiment was simply to prove that it was possible using fully photonic chips built using the same methods employed by current CMOS circuits. "It's years to complete," Eggleton said, taking these research efforts into a production technology. But these demonstrations "are starting to establish this is a serious proposition."
Move over HP and IBM, and make room for Cisco Systems. Cisco, who has remained focused on routers, switches, and other networking gear and software responsible for the majority of its $40 billion a year in revenue and 65 percent gross profit margins, plans to release a server computer equipped with sophisticated virtualization software within the next few months, according to The New York Times.
"This will be the most important and most talked-about product of the year," said Brent Bracelin, a hardware analyst for Pacific Crest Securities. "There will be massive competitive reactions from both IBM. and HP, and we expect this will lead to a new wave of industry consolidation."
Cisco, who views the move "not as new market, but a market transition," will focus just on virtual applications rather than release a general purpose server. Other details remain sparse and Cisco isn't yet saying what exactly it envisions for its new product, but rumors suggest the company will also bundle networking hardware and virtualization software from Cisco and VMware, the latter of which Cisco owns close to a 2 percent stake.
Look for more details to emerge in the next couple of months.
With just five applications--five, free applications--you can do anything you ever wanted to do across a network connection. We're serious. Using these applications, you can bridge your computers together from anywhere in the world across a secure, hacker-proof connection. From there, you can dial into your desktop as if you were sitting right in front of it, looking at the exact screen you'd be seeing were your butt in the groove of your favorite office chair. If you're a hardcore network enthusiast, we'll even show you how to tab-browse through multiple, connected desktops as if you were pulling them up in Firefox or something.
And if you think that's crazy, these examples only reflect three of the five programs we're featuring in this week's roundup. So what are you waiting for? Click the link and let's get networked! Which, in itself, should be some kind of 80s super-dance mix: "Let's Get Networked." Eh? Ehhhh?
Based on the name alone, one would expect Qnap’s TS-209 Pro II NAS box to offer more features than its predecessors—particularly our leader in this storage category, Qnap’s TS-109 Pro. And while the former does allow for increased capacity, it does not provide significant improvements in performance or offer more features than the TS-109 Pro, which has been out for more than a year.
Canary Wireless was the first out with a usable Wi-Fi network spotter. We say usable because we’ve seen all manner of gimmicky, useless devices that couldn’t spot a Wi-Fi network if they were hit by a semi full of them.
Thankfully, Canary's second-generation Hot Spotter is quite a capable beast.
Is bigger always better? Not necessarily. Qnap’s TS-409 Pro is packed with the same features as the company’s TS-109 Pro (http://tinyurl.com/yomys5) but includes twice as much memory and supports four hard drives rather than just one. And it rocks, but only if we compare it to similarly sized foes, such Buffalo’s four-drive TeraStation Live.
But how does it stack up to single-drive NAS boxes? Find out after the jump.
If you wander far from your 802.11n Draft 2.0 router, you’ll want to know about Hawking Technology’s 300N Dish Network Adapter. This not-so-little dish antenna delivers outstanding range without the need to drop your network down to 802.11g mode to support it.
Read on to find out what we thought of its performance.