Routers vs. PC's for routing - was list problems?

Date: Thu, 23 May 2002 15:25:14 -0400 (EDT)
From: James Cornman

We've had some rather good success with FreeBSD based PC
Routers. Typical setup was FreeBSD 4.x, 512mb, 20gb RAID-1,
3com Gigabit Ethernet card, Fore Systems OC3 ATM card. All
this, with zebra on top. It worked well for a long time,
although it turned out getting deprecated because of some
zebra issues (with ospfd. They (the problems) weren't
confirmed by the zebra community but thats the only thing we
could narrow it down to. ospfd would die periodically.) The
line cards were bought off of eBay.

Yes, for <= 155 Mbps, it works well.

My intended point was that Juniper != PC. Yes, both are FreeBSD
on x86, which works great. But PCs use the system bus, which is
a much harsher limit than having a fast backplane or midplane
that just switches data.

As Randy said, a router must route _and_ forward. When PCI runs
out of gas, you just can't push any more through it.

Again: Anyone played with cPSB yet? It looks very promising...

The "sweet spot" for building a PC-based router probably would be
around 2x or 3x DS3 right now. 7200s have come down in price,
but DS3 cards are still fairly valuable. (Not enough price
difference in the DS1 game to make a PC-based router worth the
effort on the low end... unless one is multihoming and needs more
RAM than 26xx or 36{20|40} can hold.)

I'm trying to remember what "Buy It Now" was on that M20 on eBay
the other day... IIRC, it had 4x OC3 + 4x DS3 + 4x FE.

We did VLAN trunking through the 3com GBE card to a Catalyst
3548. Did any rate limiting with DUMMYNET and ipfw pipes.
Overall, the whole system worked great for a few months
without human interaction, until the ospfd problems.

How long ago was this? Zebra has been stagnant for nearly a year
now, and my recollection was that late 2000 was when OSPF bugs
were biting...