PC Routers (was Re: /24s run amuck)

If someone were to take *half* the software innovations which have been
made over the past 15 years (a decent fib, interrupt coalescing, compiled
packet matching rulesets, etc) and applied them as if they knew something
about networking and coding, they could very easily produce a box using
off the shelf PC hardware which woops up on a 7206vxr for somewhere less
than $2000.

Do you have any evidence that these improvements are not being done?
The people building supercomputer arrays using Linux have a need
for consistently high pps and bps that is greater than anything
we see today on the Internet. They've been working on these types
of improvements in device drivers and the OS (Linux, *BSD) for
years now. You might not find this stuff in a standard enterprise
distro like RedHat or SUSE but it is trvial to source this stuff
and integrate it into your own build of the OS.

A lot of this discussion has been people guessing about performance
issues but few people have taken the time to put together a few
boxes with Linux or *BSD and either Zebra or Quagga to trial them.
We all go through detailed evaluations when buying C or J boxes, so
it's not a waste of time to trial some Z or Q boxes as well to see
what they can do. In the end, the resulting performance is affected
by so many factors that it can't be predicted without testing. For
instance, any weaknesses in the software might be completely nullified
by the greater CPU power of a PC platform. And lets not forget that
there are other platforms like ARM and PPC. Here's an ARM development
system with PCI http://www.simtec.co.uk/products/EB110ATX/intro.html
and here's a PPC one http://www.artesyncp.com/products/PM-PPC-440.html

And if anyone thinks that ASICs give C and J an speed advantage that
others can't touch, then guess again. Nowadays those ASICs are
probably programmable ASICs which is a fancy way of saying that they
are mostly made up of FPGA cells. It is not that difficult or expensive
for people to design and build their own ASIC using cheap FPGA technology
from companies like Xilinx. This is basic sophomore level electronics
and is simple and cheap enough that people even hack their own MP3
players using FPGAs PJRC MP3 Player, FAT32 and Memory Manager Library Functions

PC-based routers may not be magic bullets but I think we should take
them a lot more seriously especially if you want to innovate and
offer something that differentiates you from other network operators.
In a world where everybody runs C and J networks, there is only one
flavor available, vanilla.
--Michael Dillon