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May 7, 2010

Enlil Network Emulator: Selecting latest embedded HW around 100EUR with acceptable OpenWRT support

Filed under: Enlil Network Emulator — natiku @ 3:44 pm

This entry is part of Enlil Handy Network Emulator

Selecting HW platform architecture

While on most today’s mobile, handled & entertainments devices are most popular really powerful ARM CPU platforms,
in consumer/entry level devices iare still most popular MIPS CPU platforms, so most of OpenWRT support is targeting MIPS.
Main reason is, then most MIPS platforms used in networking related projects are cheaper then ARM for example because they lack Float Point computing Units.

Selecting HW platform producer

Similar to ARM, MIPS based chips are produced by many companies like Broadcom,TI,Infineon,Toshinba, NEC and Atheros
Latest get on my radar, because the release cheap and powerful Atheros AR7161 running on 680Mhz (even with capability to be overclocked to 800Mhz)

Selecting HW platform vendor

Atheros AR7161 is now very popular platform, new openWRT HW list 6 modems based on this platform.
3 of them are complete desktop solutions and 3 of them are modular systems with industrial look boxing.

Selecting HW platform available in Europe

While other even cheaper Atheros AR7161 systems can be find in US or Asia as OEM,
we will rather prefer global vendors with good support and larger user base in Europe.

Lessons leaned show then desktop solutions have shorter product live then modular systems,
so we will go with microtik RouterBoard and Ubiquiti RouterStation based boards.

Selecting concrete HW models

We will try to select 2 models, each one from different vendor to prevent a vendor lock and also to provide unit functionality diversity.

We will target units based on Atheros AR7161@680Mhz (Max 800Mhz) CPU (Designed for Dual-Band Access) with Gigabit network switch Atheros ar8316, which is supported by OpenWRT release BackFire 10.03

Microtik RouterBoard RB450G

Purpose: Fast Giga Wire Network Emulator

Price EUR: ~  80 EUR = 62 EUR Board + 9 EUR Indoor Case + 6.5 EUR 18V/1A or 24V/1A Power supply (May/2010 at i4wifi.cz)
Price US$: ~ 103 US$ = 85$ Board + $13 US$Indoor Case + 10 US$ 18V/1A or 24V/1A Power supply (May/2010 at i4-wifi.com)
Configuration: AR7161@680Mhz(Max 800Mhz),512MB Flash, 256MB RAM, No miniPCI,5 Gigabit Ethernet Switch,microSD
OpenWRT: Work in Progress, partially by BackFire 10.03 Microtik RouterBoard RB450G
HW Network Configuration:

RB450G Network Logical scheme:

  +-----------+       +-----------+
  |           | Eth1  |           |
  |           +-------+----------5+-WAN
  |           |       | AR8316    |
  |    CPU    |       |        +-4+-LAN1
  |   AR7161  | Eth0  |        +-3+-LAN2
  |           +-------+0-------+-2+-LAN3
  |           |       |        +-1+-LAN4
  +-----------+       +-----------+

RB450B Network Physical wiring

  AR8316 Port Name              RB450G Port Name
  PORT0                    ->  Internally connected to the processor MAC
  PORT1                    ->  Eth2
  PORT2                    ->  Eth5
  PORT3                    ->  Eth4
  PORT4                    ->  Eth3
  PORT5                    ->  Eth1 (Most left sided near Serial port with PoE label)

Dimensions: 1.375in x 4.53in x 3.54in

Ubiquiti RouterStation Pro

Purpose: Wire Giga Network Emulator with optional dual WiFi 802.11n modules and 3G modem on USB port
Price EUR: ~ 80 EUR = 56 EUR Board + 13 EUR Indoor Case + 11 EUR 48V/30W Power Supply (May/2010 at i4wifi.cz)
Price US$: ~ 92 US$ = 72$ Board + $16 US$ Indoor Case + 14 US$ 48V/30W Power supply (May/2010 at i4-wifi.com)
Configuration: AR7161@680Mhz(Max 800Mhz),16MB Flash, 128MB RAM, 3x miniPCI,4 Gigabit Ethernet Switch,1x USB 2.0
OpenWRT: Supported in BackFire 10.03 Ubiquiti RouterStation Pro
HW Network Configuration:

RS Pro Network Logical scheme:

    +-----------+       +-----------+
    |           | Eth0  |           |
    |           +-------+----------5+-WAN
    |           |       | AR8316    |
    |    CPU    |       |        +-4+-LAN1
    |   AR7161  | Eth1  |        +-3+-LAN2
    |           +-------+0-------+-2+-LAN3
    |           |       |        +-1+ (not connected)
    +-----------+       +-----------+

RS Pro Network Physical wiring

  AR8316 Port Name              RouterStation Pro Port Name
  PORT0                    ->  Internally connected to the processor MAC
  PORT1                    ->  Not Conected
  PORT2                    ->  Eth3
  PORT3                    ->  Eth2
  PORT4                    ->  Eth1
  PORT5                    ->  WAN (Post right sided, in middle of device, visually separated)

Dimensions: 1.375in x 6.25in x 5in

Know HW Issues

Even when unit is designed in very open fashion like is Ubiquiti RouterStation Pro we hinting issue with missing for now full documentation for Atheros ar8316 switch chip.


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