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Why We Don't Need Gigabit Networks (Yet)

timothy posted more than 2 years ago | from the more-suspense-this-way dept.

Network 359

AmyVernon writes "Most computers today can't support gigabit connections and current Wi-Fi networks can't offer those speeds either. The first trial of Sonic.Net's gigabit network was a speed test on a generic laptop that showed off 420 Mbps down; the laptop couldn't handle a full gig. Plus, few applications need those speeds. It's hard to justify such a huge investment in a network that will have few subscribers and few applications that need it. Of course, that can change, and then these networks will be vital. This story has a good analysis of where things stand and what has to change."

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Could Not Disagree More (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37370226)

Gigabit networks are important when working with almost any kind of file copy. I am not sure the last time someone tried to backup even just 100GB of data (Think backups) over a 100 megabit network. Copies like that can take for ever a fully saturate 100 megabit network and slow down traffic for everyone. While copies over gigabit rarely use the entire pipe its good to know that there is still bandwidth left over for other tasks.

Re:Could Not Disagree More (5, Informative)

buyvalve (1152115) | more than 2 years ago | (#37370260)

It's not too clear from the title but the article is referring to internet connections, not home/business networks.

Re:Could Not Disagree More (2)

mmcuh (1088773) | more than 2 years ago | (#37370292)

The point is still valid if you're doing any sort of off-site backup, or work with large data files (e.g. HD video) that you want to send to and receive from other people.

Re:Could Not Disagree More (1)

SanityInAnarchy (655584) | more than 2 years ago | (#37370346)

This. I take large amounts of disk images, and it's really not worthwhile to do this anywhere but Gigabit, so I don't do it offsite.

Re:Could Not Disagree More (2, Interesting)

Dahamma (304068) | more than 2 years ago | (#37370492)

They aren't saying it's not needed for businesses, just most home users. And no need to argue that some home users still need it - those 0.1% might as well be qualified as businesses. Also, the article already mentions that off-site backups would be useful, but any decent backup system is incremental so the major benefit is only a one time thing.

Not that I'm saying I completely agree with the article - you and I may be in those 0.1% :) It is kind of dumb to use a laptop getting 420Mbps sustained as an example of why gigabit isn't useful. There will always be overhead, of course, and 420Mbps is pretty damn good over a theoretical 1 Gbps broadband link! And it proves 100Mbps would not be enough to saturate, of course. Not to mention the fact that many people have more than 1 IP-connected device in the home. I'm sure I'm not typical, but between computers, smart phones, tablets, TVs, DVRs, BD players, game consoles, and security cameras, I'm probably pushing 20 devices. And it's not uncommon for 3-4 of those to be downloading or streaming HD video at the same time...

Big surprise: Bad Summary (1)

Bill, Shooter of Bul (629286) | more than 2 years ago | (#37370286)

I think the gist of the article is that we don't need gigabit connections from an isp to the home. While that's debatable, that's not the same as saying that gigbit networks within a home or office are not necessary.

Re:Big surprise: Bad Summary (1)

Pentium100 (1240090) | more than 2 years ago | (#37370744)

My internet connection is 300mbps up/down so I definitely need a gigabit local network. A gigabit internet connection would requite 10gig LAN (so I do not saturate it with the internet data), but would be fun to have, I'm sure various torrent trackers would like me even more than now (on the other hand, I would have to replace most of my non-main PCs since they can barely handle 300mbps).

Anyone who Says... (1)

sycodon (149926) | more than 2 years ago | (#37370662)

...you don't need something is usually looking to take something away or prevent you from acquiring it.

HERETICS! (5, Insightful)

iCEBaLM (34905) | more than 2 years ago | (#37370228)

How DARE you say we don't need faster networks! This article should be purged from the interwebs and timothy should be strung up by his gonads for even considering posting it!

Re:HERETICS! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37370264)

exactly what came to my mind when i read this summary... so stupid point of view.

Re:HERETICS! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37370308)

what gonads?

Re:HERETICS! (3, Insightful)

neokushan (932374) | more than 2 years ago | (#37370384)

Indeed, it smells of "x should be enough for anyone" and does nothing but stifle progress. The thing with a lot of IT stuff is it's a bit chicken and egg, sometimes just because you don't need something now doesn't mean that someone won't come up with a novel use for it.
A few years ago, you could have argued that you don't really need much more than 1Mbit down. In an age of 56k modems, 1meg would have certainly made you king of the castle, as it were, but today 1meg isn't nearly enough for basic internet use.

Furthermore, their example as to why it's not needed - a "generic" laptop couldn't handle it, is rubbish. That's like saying we don't need better fuel sources because our existing power producers can't use it.

Re:HERETICS! (5, Interesting)

msauve (701917) | more than 2 years ago | (#37370516)

The guy being quoted (Jasper) has a pretty weak argument. It's based on there only being a single computer accessing the network. Add in multiple channels of streaming HD video, multiple computers/users in a household, etc., and you can easily fill that pipe that his cheap laptop could only use half of.

The article is poorly written. It mentions "Jasper's ISP," but Jasper is CEO of an ISP. So is this a competitor offering the gigabit for $70/month? If you dig just a bit, you'll find he sells 10 Mb Ethernet connections for $600/month, so perhaps that's the real reason he doesn't think $70/month for gigabit service makes sense.

Re:HERETICS! (1)

zippthorne (748122) | more than 2 years ago | (#37370644)

There's no way that competitor can offer $70/month and not be oversubscribed. Based on the vast gap between the prices, I doubt that they're selling the same product at all.

That said.. I wouldn't mind being on an oversubscribed gigabit network if I had to be throttled to "only" 10Mb average.... For web browsing, a bunch of brief bursts of however fast you can make it really improves the responsiveness. I would pay a fair price for a product like that, if the average was sufficient for one netflix HD stream. Web browsing isn't *all* I use my connection for.

Re:HERETICS! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37370774)

One of my friends in rural Sweden has direct gigE from his ISP, which he pays 70 euro for. Yes, I know thats more like usd$95, but it is also unmetered. He also get 60MB/s any time of the day, 60MB/s being the fastest his disks can do sustained writes.

Fileserver (1)

drolli (522659) | more than 2 years ago | (#37370236)

I am not sure how "one does not need a gbit connection". Even a small file server in 2006 could output more than 70MB/sec (practical test on large files).

Re:Fileserver (1)

ech3l0n (2005404) | more than 2 years ago | (#37370280)

Right, but you're talking about a *server*, not just a *home computer*. Not everyone is a geek, not everyone keeps/needs a server at home.

Home servers (2)

tepples (727027) | more than 2 years ago | (#37370340)

not everyone keeps/needs a server at home.

The misconception that people would have no use for a home server has led to prevalence of highly asymmetric Internet connections suited more to a spectator culture than to a participatory culture. Have you heard of the FreedomBox [freedomboxfoundation.org] ?

Re:Fileserver (1)

pathological liar (659969) | more than 2 years ago | (#37370448)

Slashdot I know, but neither of you actually read the fucking article, did you? They're talking about last mile connections, not your home LAN.

Still, I don't know many computers built in the last few years that DON'T have gigE, and even though 802.11N doesn't come anywhere close, it still delivers >100mbit in real world settings... so the idea that most computers can't handle it is inane. Yeah most people can't stream 100MB/s to disk or something, and lower powered gear or cheap chipsets may not be able to max it out. But who cares? They can still do an order of magnitude better than what we have now.

These guys must have the imagination of a turnip if they can't see a use for faster transfers. The reason there's no killer app for gigabit residential connections is that most people can't get them, and that when they can the transfer caps are (relatively, at least) anaemic. Fix that and who CAN'T think of a use for it? Just off the top of my head, how about better quality streaming video? Forget dinky little 3-5mbit streams, you could pull down blu-ray quality 1080p all day long.

Re:Fileserver (1)

ThorGod (456163) | more than 2 years ago | (#37370472)

Not everyone is a geek, not everyone keeps/needs a server at home.

a.) You don't have to be "a geek" to setup, use, and 'need' a fileserver. You only need to have a PC (Mac-inclusive).
b.) If you're not backing up your files to somewhere, you will some day lose them. P ( hard drive failure, t -> 5-10 yrs ) = 1
c.) There's Apple's "TimeMachine" boxes, there's HP's at home file servers, and so on and so forth. I'm pretty sure an average user could set up either of those first two options.
e.) You might have heard of "dropbox". 60 minutes a couple nights ago ran a piece on dropbox having a pretty large market cap. I'd say there's a substantial enough need for personal file servers.

Re:Fileserver (1)

wagnerrp (1305589) | more than 2 years ago | (#37370534)

Why don't they? If people have a use for "the cloud", they have just as much use for their own private server.

In any case, that "small file server" back in 2006 probably ran on a single processor, maybe single core system, using the same hardware you would have seen in desktops at the time. A modern home computer is likely much more powerful, and certainly has access to more memory and IO bandwidth. The problem is the application. I've got a file server in my basement, running off a low end Athlon64 X2 that served as my desktop in 2005. My current desktop is a low end Core2Duo from 2008. Firefox runs like a dog, downloading off the Apache server at a meager 25MB/s. Meanwhile wget pulls some 90MB/s off that same server. Even Windows file sharing managing transfers around 70-75MB/s. Today's hardware is plenty fast, the bottleneck is elsewhere.

Re:Fileserver (1)

mlts (1038732) | more than 2 years ago | (#37370558)

There are many uses for a home server, even for users who don't think they need one:

1: Seedbox. I'm not meaning movies and copyright violations, but there are always things worth seeding and getting via BitTorrent and not having one's main machines deal with those.

2: Caching. LANs are sometimes orders of magnitudes faster than WANs, so caching just makes sense, especially for often visited websites. This can be DNS caching, Squid caches, or anything along those lines.

3: Security. Having a server filter potentially malicious sites and ads will reduce machine compromise.

4: Backup server. This way, one can bare metal restore over the LAN, as well as roll back if a box gets infected.

5: Streaming media. I wonder how long it will be until one has a big render server in the home packed full of GPUs, and streams video to people's machines (be it computers, phones, or tablets.)

6: Secure file share for documents.

7: Gateway for multiple Internet connections. If the cable modem drops, it can use tethering on a smartphone and the other boxes on the LAN don't have to change routing.

Re:Fileserver (4, Insightful)

jo_ham (604554) | more than 2 years ago | (#37370880)

No, but the argument is "this cheap and shitty laptop could only manage to use half of the gig connection, so therefore no one needs gig speeds for the home".

An argument that is easily destroyed by saying "ok, do you live alone? Do you have more than one person using a computer at the same time?"

It's not just servers. I share a house with 4 other people and we can all watch HD streaming video on the connection we have, just. If the bandwidth goes up a little, or people start using off-site backup more frequently I can see a market for a consumer-level gig connection. I know you can already get them in some other European countries (here in the UK, the best you can get on a consumer budget is 100Mb (soon to be 200Mb) from Virgin cable).

One shitty laptop might choke on a gig connection, but three or four computers will happily share it.

Re:Fileserver (1)

kungfuj35u5 (1331351) | more than 2 years ago | (#37370290)

Agreed this article just comes off as ignorant. IO is hardly a bottleneck these days

Editing. (1)

khasim (1285) | more than 2 years ago | (#37370332)

The problem is that TFA was not correctly edited.

1. She's talking about gig connections from your home to your ISP.

2. She's mixing wired and wireless.

3. She mixes gig and 100Mb/s.

4. $40 for 100Mb / $70 for gig is NOT a lot of money.

5. She's wrong. Computers today CAN handle a gig connection.

6. So what if the cheap router/firewall/whatever you have cannot handle a gig connection (it can probably handle a 100Mb/s connection)? That's the easiest piece for the consumer to replace.

7. The apps that would use it TODAY are things like streaming media. Getting the WHOLE movie or song or whatever 100x faster means fewer delays from the consumer's point of view (perception).

If I could get gig speeds here in Seattle for under $100 I would certainly do it.

The point of downloading faster than real time? (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 2 years ago | (#37370396)

Getting the WHOLE movie or song or whatever 100x faster means fewer delays from the consumer's point of view (perception).

From the consumer's point of view, what's the point of downloading faster than one can listen? I can see only two reasons: 1. to skip around in the file, which could be handled with out-of-order downloading techniques such as HTTP range requests; or 2. when a handheld media playert will soon be moved out of reach of a fixed Internet connection (the download at home and watch in back seat/bus/train/plane scenario).

Re:The point of downloading faster than real time? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37370466)

From the consumer's point of view, what's the point of downloading faster than one can listen? I can see only two reasons: 1. to skip around in the file, which could be handled with out-of-order downloading techniques such as HTTP range requests; or 2. when a handheld media playert will soon be moved out of reach of a fixed Internet connection (the download at home and watch in back seat/bus/train/plane scenario).

How about I know that I want to download X things, and want to start listening/watching without having to set up the next download? One script can start the batch off, and the second/third/etc will be there already. Also good if the network can have flaky connections - get it while its working, so you can use it later.

Re:The point of downloading faster than real time? (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 2 years ago | (#37370770)

How about I know that I want to download X things, and want to start listening/watching without having to set up the next download?

Then you put X things in your queue and you start watching the first as it downloads.

Also good if the network can have flaky connections

Good point. But in my opinion, you need only about 25% greater than real time to cover up any transient interruption longer than a minute or so. Anything longer is probably the handheld media player use case.

Buffering. (1)

khasim (1285) | more than 2 years ago | (#37370482)

From the consumer's point of view, what's the point of downloading faster than one can listen?

Most of the systems out there already download faster than you can watch / listen to the content.

But they still have issues where there are delays and the play-back has to pause and "buffer" more content.

Simply put, the longer the download process is (all the way down to receiving the packets a microsecond before playing them) the more likely it is that something will cause packets to be lost or delayed and the system will have to interrupt the customer and "buffer" more data.

With higher speeds, if you can download a 2 hour movie in 10 minutes you won't see any Internet-based delays for an hour and fifty minutes. Which makes for a better "customer experience".

Re:The point of downloading faster than real time? (1)

zippthorne (748122) | more than 2 years ago | (#37370670)

Out-of-order downloading still works best over a fast link, though, because you want those out-of-order frames to come in quickly so you can stick them up right away....

Re:Editing. (1)

ThorGod (456163) | more than 2 years ago | (#37370498)

Yeah, I hear you. I'd love to be able to backup my files to my friend's house. Offsite backup on the cheap? Yes please!

(As for how safe an option his house is, well, I know where he lives.)

Re:Editing. (2)

volsung (378) | more than 2 years ago | (#37370676)

For the software end of this, check out CrashPlan. It saves incremental backups of your system to external hard drives, your friend's computer (also running CrashPlan) and/or the CrashPlan servers. It's great stuff, and works on Win/Mac/Linux. Plus, your backup data is encrypted before it leaves your computer, so you don't have to worry about the security of your friend's computer. (By default, your data can be decrypted on the CrashPlan server in order to support web access to your files. If you don't want that, you can set an encryption password that CrashPlan can't access, and then no one can see your data outside of your computer.)

Re:Editing. (1)

IrquiM (471313) | more than 2 years ago | (#37370646)

100mbit is not enough when you get 3 streams of HD TV channels, and at the same time want to surf the interwebs. 1gbit might be more than you need right now, but 100mbit is not enough... I'm glad I've got fiber directly into the house.

Time to build (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37370242)

If we started today, by the time we build out a gigabit-to-the-home network, PC components will easily handle the speed. As to whether we need it, we may not need it now - but we'd quickly find a use for it if it were available.

Re:Time to build (2)

Jarik C-Bol (894741) | more than 2 years ago | (#37370298)

My sentiments exactly. If you build a (vastly) faster internet, the hardware will be ready for it long before you actually have it to the customers doors. And yes. we do need it. Why? because the vast shift towards streaming all media content is going to murder the shit out of the current system. If a customer can download an entire HD movie in seconds, that frees up the network in general, instead of slowly moving the file over the course of an hour. The streaming model can die the death it deserves at that point.

Live streaming (4, Insightful)

tepples (727027) | more than 2 years ago | (#37370438)

The streaming model can die the death it deserves at that point.

Streaming is still the only model I can see for live events such as news talk shows, sports, scripted sports (e.g. WWE PPV), concerts, and the like where viewing begins before the whole video has even been recorded.

Re:Time to build (3, Informative)

zippthorne (748122) | more than 2 years ago | (#37370734)

Eh.. nothing wrong with the streaming model, as far as network bandwidth goes, and there are advantages for things that lots of people are trying to get: under the streaming model, you can use multicast a little better. For instance, if something just needs to be downloaded, you can multicast it in a continuous loop and clients can assemble the pieces in the right order at their end, waiting until they have enough to finish.

Or you can have multiple streams staggered (for say, video), so that people can join in at almost any time and get on a stream.

The other advantage of streaming is that if, say, a client is downloading video and the user decides halfway through to stop watching, you don't have to send any more bits.

Speed advantage even at reduced speed (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37370248)

420 megabits per second is still over 4 times faster than 100 megabits per second.

Re:Speed advantage even at reduced speed (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37370526)

420 megabits per second is still over 4 times faster than 100 megabits per second.

Are you sure? Wait, let me get a calculator. Nope. Wait. Damn, he's right.!

Pff (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37370258)

Stop thinking "need" and start thinking "it's cool". I don't "need" a new computer right now, I
would do fine with this laptop at least 2 more years (already 2 years old). Still I'm buying one.

Where would we be today If everyone was just thinking about what they actually needed?

Re:Pff (1)

ladoga (931420) | more than 2 years ago | (#37370652)

Stop thinking "need" and start thinking "it's cool". I don't "need" a new computer right now, I would do fine with this laptop at least 2 more years (already 2 years old). Still I'm buying one. Where would we be today If everyone was just thinking about what they actually needed?

Living sustainably on a healthy planet?

Maybe not you... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37370266)

I actually routinely do file transfers to RAID arrays where the bottle neck is my gigabit network. While I agree with you that the general population doesn't need this level of speed, what about even a small business network with a heavy network load?

1 GB, it's easy (3)

gordo3000 (785698) | more than 2 years ago | (#37370282)

I have 2 computers, a ps3, and a wii connected to the net. even if I am doing something simple like streaming a movie from one computer to the ps3 to watch on my tv while someone else is playing a game online, downloading something or the other, or just generally using the web to watch anything in HD, I could easily find a use for that bandwidth.

Re:1 GB, it's easy (2)

WebManWalking (1225366) | more than 2 years ago | (#37370352)

Good point. A home subnet with only one "generic laptop" on it doesn't need gigabit Ethernet. I don't know of any subnets like that either.

Re:1 GB, it's easy (1)

Dahamma (304068) | more than 2 years ago | (#37370530)

Utilize gigabit *in* the home, sure. gigabit *to* the home - not as easily. In your example you'd still probably only be using 20-30Mbps over your Internet connection, unless your computer and PS3 are not in the same home :)

Re:1 GB, it's easy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37370840)

1080p Netflix streaming, VoIP, bittorrent, home servers, and downloading Linux blu-ray .isos could all take advantage of gigabit WAN speeds.

But I've heard from a reputable source (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37370304)

Where's the news? (1)

ibib (464750) | more than 2 years ago | (#37370306)

What do you mean "speed test", we've had gigabit broadband for some time in Sweden. It costs about 900 SEK/€100/$140, you can order it here: https://order.bredband2.com/index/products/cOrderType/broadband/iCitynetID/768537

Not available in all cities of course, but still. Not much news with gigabit broadband.

And that WiFi and most peoples computers, let alone routers are unable to push those speeds is not newsworthy either. At least not at /. ...

All we need is 640K... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37370310)

Sure, connecting to a text based BBS didn't need broadband, but looking back, I'm pretty happy we all upgraded from our 300 bps modems!

Re:All we need is 640K... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37370522)

Sure, connecting to a text based BBS didn't need broadband, but looking back, I'm pretty happy we all upgraded from our 300 bps modems!

On the other hand, being at the mercy of 300 baud modems, taught us a great deal which could be used in high latency networks today.

Infrastructure is long term. (4, Insightful)

Above (100351) | more than 2 years ago | (#37370324)

The reason this post is stupid is that infrastructure is long term. When you go to the trouble of sending out a crew to dig up and put fiber in the ground your putting in an infrastructure asset that should have a 15-30 year lifespan. The fact that can average machine can't saturate it today means we're being forward thinking.

Re:Infrastructure is long term. (1)

jcombel (1557059) | more than 2 years ago | (#37370366)

bingo! dial-up was "fine," but without future-minded broadband infrastructure (as we know it today), we'd never have had services like netflix, last.fm, pandora, or skype.

if you build a road just for the number of cars that would travel it today, you'll have a road that is too small by the time that it is done.

Re:Infrastructure is long term. (1)

frosty_tsm (933163) | more than 2 years ago | (#37370838)

The reason this post is stupid is that infrastructure is long term. When you go to the trouble of sending out a crew to dig up and put fiber in the ground your putting in an infrastructure asset that should have a 15-30 year lifespan. The fact that can average machine can't saturate it today means we're being forward thinking.

Also, data center LANs benefit from internal high speeds.

Kilobit networks should be enough for everybody .. (3, Funny)

PolygamousRanchKid (1290638) | more than 2 years ago | (#37370330)

... and 640K computers.

Build a faster network and someone will invent more devices to connect to the network to shove around data that they don't need.

we can do better than that... (1)

backwardMechanic (959818) | more than 2 years ago | (#37370470)

"I think there is a world market for maybe five computers." - Thomas Watson, chairman of IBM, 1943

Re:we can do better than that... (1)

zippthorne (748122) | more than 2 years ago | (#37370836)

And how many electronic computers existed in the world in 1943? 1944? 1945-1953?

Re:Kilobit networks should be enough for everybody (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37370640)

This combined with how long it will take to layout such a network. It won't be completely rolled out nation wide by time computers begin catching up on the higher ends anyways. Any new network laid out today would be obsolete by completion if built to today's high end or average capabilities.

Bad summary (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37370344)

TFA is actually about Gigabit connections to the internet. Not local infrastructure.

How it's better to avoid gigabit speeds? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37370356)

I could understand the attitude if it would be applied to ten or 40 gigabit Ethernet. When talking of gigabit networking, I see this to be absurdly badly timed. Broadband speeds above 200 Mbps are widespread in developed countries (I'm not certain if US qualifies), and infrastructure upgrades make true gigabit-to-home more and more viable. There isn't much point opposing using gigabit Ethernet at consumer side (GE ports cost peanuts these days), and if consumer is ready to pay, there's no reason not to handle the capacity also on the last-mile link.

If one throws idea of subsidising such last-mile technology, it's a bit different question, though, but why oppose the technology in general?

Do what? (1)

vlm (69642) | more than 2 years ago | (#37370360)

Plus, few applications need those speeds.

That, I can agree with. How many high def uncompressed live video feeds can a household watch?

For example, ATSC "over the air HDTV" is only 20 megabits/sec, so I could watch 50 HDTV channels simultaneously...

Re:Do what? (1)

QuantumRiff (120817) | more than 2 years ago | (#37370538)

So basically, you just replaced your Cable Company with an online only service, giving you 50 hi def channels for cheap. That is a GOOD thing, since it takes the LOCAL Monopoly out of TV.

(oh, and how many houses only have 1 computer ?)

Re:Do what? (1)

vlm (69642) | more than 2 years ago | (#37370684)

So basically, you just replaced your Cable Company with an online only service, giving you 50 hi def channels for cheap. That is a GOOD thing, since it takes the LOCAL Monopoly out of TV.

(oh, and how many houses only have 1 computer ?)

Our house only has 4 people and 3 TVs, all with mythtv frontends. I could watch live TV on my computer, making 4 streams. It would be very challenging to find 80 megabits of live HDTV to watch simultaneously... Not the "find a signal" but the "worth watching" critera... Assuming its possible, that leaves the other 920 megabits of my "gig" service unused.

I am uninterested in sports, but I once ate lunch at a sports-bar that could probably make use of a large fraction of a gig, if they showed different streams instead of just the same ball game on all the TVs.

My guess is we will see "gigabit" service marketed soon with a little asterisk next to the claim that they guarantee it could be up to a gig, guaranteed to never be over a gig. The transport stream will of course only be a couple megs.

Re:Do what? (1)

ColaMan (37550) | more than 2 years ago | (#37370552)

Or watch one and record the other 49.

Mind you, once you trim out all the ads, reality TV, "OW, my balls!"-style shows and the self-serving "OMG, this is a show about celebrities!" crap, you really only have a need for 5, maybe 10 kilobits/sec on average.

Most computers today CAN support GigE connections (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37370362)

My house has been wired with cat5e since 2002 and it's been connected via gigE switches and NICs since that year or 2003. Even last year's netbooks have 1000BaseT support. Desktop motherboards have supported gigE since NForce3 was new. Only my cheapest socket 775 systems don't have gigE on the mainboard and that can be remedied with a PCI or PCI-e NIC.

Re:Most computers today CAN support GigE connectio (1)

DarkXale (1771414) | more than 2 years ago | (#37370858)

I'm not actually sure theres been any computers for a better part of the last 7 or so years sold without Gigabit Ethernet. Routers and Switches are another story mind you. And it just so happens that IPv6 is a repeat story of that.

bizarre article with a bizarre premise (2)

ThorGod (456163) | more than 2 years ago | (#37370368)

FTA:
"So we’re stuck at a point where a gigabit — or even 100 Mbps – sounds awesome, but it’s not exactly worth the prices most companies want (or need to charge). This is why Google’s and Sonic.Net’s plans to expand moderately priced 100 Mbps and gigabit networks will be so important."

The summary to this article is misleading. It led me to write a mini-rant about the usefulness of gigabit LANs. In fact, the article's talking about gigabit WAN connections at the home. Their denouncement has the tinge of that old Microsoft exec quote about the internet being a fad and no one needing very much ram.

FTA:
“If every consumer has 100 Mbps, we’d have some better applications,” Jasper said. ” At 100 Mbps, high-def video conferencing becomes a reality and you don’t need local storage anymore. You don’t even need local computing.”

You went from talking about gigabit WANs (at the corporate level), to the use of fast ethernet WAN at home. Somehow, there's a use-case at the home that isn't there at the corporation.

And this made /. frontpage, why? Can I get a +5 comment simply by using the words "100 mbps, gigabit, ethernet, 802.11[n-z], important, high-def, local, storage, computing" ?

The idea of faster network... (4, Insightful)

mario_grgic (515333) | more than 2 years ago | (#37370376)

is not for one computer to saturate it, but for 10 machines to get decent throughput simultaneously.

Re:The idea of faster network... (2)

Inda (580031) | more than 2 years ago | (#37370432)

And this is the exact reason why my neighbour needs a Gigabit connection to go with his unsecured wireless network.

It's like molasses tonight, and the connection is a bit slow too.

Never say never (1)

gone.fishing (213219) | more than 2 years ago | (#37370378)

"640k ought to be enough for anyone." "There is a world-wide market for about fifteen computers."

Time and time again people have been deeply mistaken about anything having to do with the future of computing. The first time I saw a VGA display I was so smitten that I thought "this is the best it can be". Well I was wrong and so were a lot of other people who thought that there would never be a need for something more advanced than what technology has to offer today.

We expand technology by pushing against the current limits, finding things that cannot be done as the technology exists today and figuring out how to get it done and then proposing that solution as a standard. Meanwhile someone else has found a different solution and they too have submitted it as the standard. Then the wrestling begins perhaps one solution is accepted or maybe the solutions are married or an entirely different standard is found or maybe everything is rejected and they become proprietary products.

I'm 55 years old with lots of gray hair yet I still hold out hope that before I die I will be able to play, just once, in a holodeck, maybe with someone overseas. That could require something more than gig lines.

fast shared networks (1)

madbavarian (1316065) | more than 2 years ago | (#37370386)

Shared networks work best if they are unsaturated. Having a very fast network is a simple way to achieve that without having to sweat bullets over how to enforce fairness in the sharing algorithms.

Network vs. Intarwebz (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37370398)

The title says "Why We Don't Need Gigabit Networks" ... whilst the article talks about Gigabit Internet...

About "networks":
A laptop with its integrated network chip might have trouble processing 420Mbps. A Gigabit network might have trouble spewing more than 500Mbps in 1500-bytes MTU TCP there the round trip takes a relatively hefty sum of time.

But 420Mbps versus an approximate 80Mbps at FE can spew is still more than 5 times faster. And whenever you need to transfer files, it does count abominably. It means I can do my 5-50 gigabyte backup in minutes versus hours. It means I can safely transfer some HD movie to my PS3/360/Mac without a hitch, with proper buffering, instead of being stuck at the limit of my network. And imagine if my automated backup decides to start at the same time I'm playing a movie... in FE instance, that would mean movie skips.

So for networks, it makes total sense.

About "internet":
I've had the luxury of setting up a real full GE network for my job. And boy is it worth it! (FWIW: we paid for full duplex GE burstable, and full duplex FE average) ... Not only are we able to transfer files quickly, not losing time, but the whole deal about being stuck waiting for a transfer to be done means waiting for minutes instead of hours. It also means users are free to roam the Internet without limitations, only "normal" things (no infringements, nothing illegal, no X, 500MB+ file transfer => tell us or you might get disconnected).

It also means we have the luxury to set up whatever server we want in-house, and not having to pay for additional servers through other means.

So for big companies, it's great. For small companies, it's great. For one individual user, it's not really useful, but it could be made very useful by having a small CDN farm inside the provider, with boxes from the major CDN players, and tell any transfer originating from that part would be sent at unlimited speeds without bandwidth usage. Not only would it save providers a lot of bandwidth, it would save us from transferring gigabytes of software updates at subpar speeds. It wouldn't be deep-packet inspection, speed bumps, transfer size slowdowns or other provider nastinesses, but an actual added service, on top of your default offering. And having these transfers done at full GE speed would mean the WORLD of difference.

Bad test (1)

GreatBunzinni (642500) | more than 2 years ago | (#37370404)

So, just because a single "generic laptop" was sold with a crap GigE card then no one should be able to get such a connection?

It looks like a desperate attempt to bullshit their clients into believing that they want what they really want but the ISPs don't want to provide, and instead what they really want is what the ISPs is already providing. It's the "640kb is enough for everyone" shtick, but bullshittier.

Re:Bad test (1)

cloudmaster (10662) | more than 2 years ago | (#37370698)

I plugged my DSL cable into my laptop's modem, and when I dialed up to Earthlink I only got 48.2Kbps. So my laptop can't even use my whole 7Mbps DSL connection, and therefore no one needs that crap.

Stupid article (5, Interesting)

Ralph Spoilsport (673134) | more than 2 years ago | (#37370410)

Tonight, I will want to watch a movie on netflix. So will my wife. So will my daughter. And they won't be the same movie. Now, 'splain to me how a gigabit (or multigigabit) connection is going to stand in the way of our individual entertainment needs? Oh, that's right, it won't. In fact it will foster greater consumption of digital goods. Now, explain how a gigabit or multigigabit connection is going to hinder that kind of commerce. Oh, that's right - it won't. In fact, it will do just the opposite.

When you wake up to the obvious facts of 1999, let me know, and I'll give you an invite to the 21st century. Cuz I'm k3vvL and rollz like dat.

Re:Stupid article (1)

Kjella (173770) | more than 2 years ago | (#37370692)

And all that would be at most 3x54Mbit = 162 Mbit if you're streaming three BluRays. Currently I'm on a 60/60 Mbit/s connection (as in real, I've had 6+ MB/s actual transfer speeds) and honestly it's just ridiculously fast. I'd certainly take higher if they were reasonably priced for bragging rights (they offer up to 800 Mbit/s now, but for absurd prices) but it's not really many places I'd need it. Sure, that 20GB download from steam could be a little faster but really... it's fast. By the time I've watched one episode, the whole season has finished downloading. With uTorrent's play during download instant satisfaction is already here. In short, I need some new applications that require that sort of bandwidth.

how meny people / homes only have 1 system? (1)

Joe_Dragon (2206452) | more than 2 years ago | (#37370412)

So useing 1 system and a laptop for that is a poor test.

Why not test a desktop system? A system with a SDD?

Test with 2 systems on the same link at the same time?

Indeed (1)

makubesu (1910402) | more than 2 years ago | (#37370414)

There's no point in having gigabit networks, network cards can't handle that traffic.
There's no point in having network cards handle that much data, networks don't have that kind of capacity.

Who the fuck are you? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37370416)

Why the hell do you think you're entitled to say what we need and what we don't need?
Idle, anyone?

Netware ! (1)

obarthelemy (160321) | more than 2 years ago | (#37370456)

Time to recycle those old Novell Netware licenses !

Useful and not more expensive (1)

bbn (172659) | more than 2 years ago | (#37370486)

100 Mbps and 1,000 Mbps costs the same. Both require FTTH and the expensive part is the fiber. The equipment to run gigabit on that fiber is almost the same cost as 100 Mbps equipment.

Gigabit internet is also not expensive. It turns out that most people do not use huge amounts of bandwidth just because it is possible. They will take advantage of faster download and upload speeds. They will do offsite backups. But since that backup now is 10 times faster it takes 10 times shorter. When you are done, someone else can use the bandwidth. With enough people it evens out.

I live at an apartment complex with a shared gigabit fiber. We have about 1000 active subscribers on that fiber. The average bandwidth used is approximately 100 Mbps and peak is about 300 Mbps (measured in 5 minute intervals). We never get near the full gigabit even though it is available. This does not mean it is useless. It is very useful to be able to download that ISO and not have to wait.

There are lots of use cases and more will come by each day. The major blocker right now is not that my computer is too slow, but that the servers out there usually are not able to deliver at those speeds. That will change when more people are able to take advantage of greater speeds.

Our apartment complex was able to buy a bulk gigabit fiber and share the cost. If you want to buy gigabit, even if FTTH is available in your area, they will rape you hundreds of dollars a month. Do not let this fool into thinking this is the real cost of gigabit internet. This is just what they can get away with because there is almost no competition on high speed internet. There is an issue if someone tries to run a commercial high bandwidth service on your gigabit offering. But for most customers offering gigabit is not one cent more expensive than offering slower speeds.

Re:Useful and not more expensive (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37370666)

100 Mbps and 1,000 Mbps costs the same. Both require FTTH and the expensive part is the fiber. The equipment to run gigabit on that fiber is almost the same cost as 100 Mbps equipment.

Thanks, thats not at all true. Comcast sells 108Mbps and demonstrated 1Gbps [zdnet.com] speeds on HFC networks, eg. not FTTH. Secondly the equipment capable of handling these two speeds is vastly different in price. A 100Mbps connection requires one 10GbE aggregation router for every 1,000 users, a 1Gig connection requires on for every hundred. Considering such routers can cost tens of thousands to hundreds of thousands of dollars its not a trivial difference. Thanks for proving you have no idea how the industry works though.

Re:Useful and not more expensive (2)

bbn (172659) | more than 2 years ago | (#37370830)

A 100Mbps connection requires one 10GbE aggregation router for every 1,000 users, a 1Gig connection requires on for every hundred.

This is not so. As I wrote we have 1000 users on a gigabit with only a peak of 300 Mbps used. This is fact, that is the way our network operates. Everyone here has gigabit in their home.

So yes I have little hands on experience with the "industry" but I DO have hands on experience with a network with 4000 people and 1000 subscribers. Do you?

And yes the routers are expensive, but not THAT expensive. A router capable of routing 10 Gbit/s is NOT hundreds of thousands of dollars. We have a HP 5412 switch for our core and it has a backbone capable of 40 Gbit/s. As far as I remember we paid around 20k USD for it. Our edge switches are HP 2910 (60 of them) every one capable of 10 Gbit/s as well (two 10 Gbit/s ports and 48 1 Gbit/s ports). Those are 5k USD each (without the 10 Gbit/s option as we have in fact no use for that - 40 users are simply not generating that much traffic).

You are confusing edge routes with the real core routers of the internet. Those are already running 10 Gbit/s or more and would not need upgrading. Giving people access to higher speeds do not generally make them generate more traffic aggregated.

I think the point you are missing is this: Upgrading the edge DOES NOT MEAN THE CORE NEEDS UPGRADING.

Shared networks (2)

betterunixthanunix (980855) | more than 2 years ago | (#37370494)

There are about 200 people who use my department's network at any given time during the day, and maybe 50 at night. All the desktops have their filesystems mounted on NFS, and people routinely upload or download large datasets. Gigabit networking is not even fast enough for what we do (yet somehow we have trouble getting that much installed).

Get rid of flash (1)

nurb432 (527695) | more than 2 years ago | (#37370508)

And other bloated tech.. and we will never need it.

Overlooked: the LAN and the very near future. (1)

TheRedDuke (1734262) | more than 2 years ago | (#37370524)

GigE comes on nearly every new computer. Consumer GigE routers and switches are marginally more expensive than their 10/100 equivalents. Most home media appliances are GigE. Nearly any home NAS you can buy has GigE. Most Cat5e cable can handle GigE speeds. Why would you bother buying 10/100 equipment? Even if your ISP isn't yet capable of it, there is plenty of application for it in the home, and it's conceivable that consumer-grade services provided by US ISPs will break the 100Mb barrier in the next five years, which isn't an unreasonable life expectancy of any of the aforementioned equipment. Say nothing of the benefits of GigE in small business and enterprise.

Flatulent, unwashed, blind and deaf elephant in the room is more like it. Not to mention a dumb article.

420 100 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37370546)

420 Mbps is more than 100Mbps, so while that laptop may not be able to use the full gigabit, it can saturated a 100Mbps, which validates the use of gigabit network.

Summary (1)

Dunbal (464142) | more than 2 years ago | (#37370564)

If God had intended man to fly, he would have given him wings.

Never the point (1)

koan (80826) | more than 2 years ago | (#37370624)

From where I sit on a consumer cable connection it isn't about max speed, it's about being able to carry the current customer load and no caps.
So if a Gigabit network would solve or at least alleviate those issues then it is justified, the corps can't seem to figure out a way to charge you more for giving you what they initially promised to start with, so apparently it isn't justified from their point of view.

Faster networks largely obviate QOS games (1)

codepage (107118) | more than 2 years ago | (#37370642)

With faster networks you can download an entire HD movie is much less times than it takes to watch it. By clearing the intertubes of so many low speed connections it makes it easier to route information through it. Faster networks makes so many things that are difficult now trivial. Try providing decent network access to a small apartment building or teleworking with largish datasets. 640 kbps is all anyone should ever need.

Me! I need it! (1)

zmollusc (763634) | more than 2 years ago | (#37370650)

As a Virgin Media customer, I need gigabit internets as the upstream will be ( if the ratio is similar to my current service ) 60Mbit.

More speed always wins (1)

YrWrstNtmr (564987) | more than 2 years ago | (#37370696)

I remember reading a PC Magazine review back in early 87 or so, talking about the recently released Intel 386 processor.
(paraphrasing) "No one needs that kind of speed at home. This is strictly for business servers."

Speed it up, and they will come.

Waste of time. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37370730)

How did this even make in on /.

"Arcnet... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37370732)

Should be enough for anyone"

-- Bill Gates

What a load of manure (1)

bmo (77928) | more than 2 years ago | (#37370766)

This is like saying back in the dialup days "who needs speeds faster than a T1? It's not like the text is going to get read any faster"

Going to faster throughput makes other things possible that previously weren't.

I don't see the Koreans or the Swedes giving up their fast-as-shit-through-a-goose internet connections because "they don't need it."

--
BMO

Wah! My craptop couldn't saturate the network (1)

msobkow (48369) | more than 2 years ago | (#37370768)

This is the most pathetic excuse for an article ever posted by Slashdot. It's complete bunk.

Gigabit NICs are standard equipment. Just because a single machine can't saturate the link due to other IO bottlenecks doesn't make the technology premature or useless. It just means you've got a really, really crappy laptop.

BS... Latency is the issue. (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37370780)

This ignores the two principal problems... Latency, and MTU.

Gigabit ethernet connections can use 9KB MTU, My 100Mbps link between Montreal and California can only get 12Mbps. Owing to the 75ms latency.

This is why CDN's (like Amazon, Microsoft, Akamai, etc) are necessary until the endpoints have these high speed connections.

And when the ISP adds a Data Cap? (1)

PastTense (150947) | more than 2 years ago | (#37370810)

If ISPs offer these at reasonable prices, they will probably add a data cap--like Comcast's 250 GB data cap--much like the new 4th Generation mobile networks, which have a 2GB, 5GB, or 10 GB data cap.

20 years ago, 14.4kpbs was 'just fine'. (1)

Sarusa (104047) | more than 2 years ago | (#37370842)

'when for today’s applications, a cable modem offering 12-14 Mbps down will do just fine?'

So we can get better applications. So Netflix can stream without butchering the content like it currently does. Because you really have to worry about multiple users and aggregation. You can really see this with GoToMeeting and WebEx: I don't care what their service claims are, every time we have more than a couple people on a meeting the voice and video are crap.

How about the up being much more constrained than the down? That's not a problem for streaming video in, but is for other applications.

'You don't need more than 12-14 Mbps down because that's all we have today' is a blisteringly dumb argument.

Forecasting the past (1)

frisket (149522) | more than 2 years ago | (#37370884)

"I see a worldwide market for maybe four or five computers"

"It's very interesting, but I cannot foresee any practical application"

etc etc blah blah blah.

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