Intal Atom N270 based system, enough power for over 100 users?

  • Hello,

    for our student residential home we need a new router-/firewall-system. We have over 100 users connected over 100MBit Ethernet to the Switches. Our WAN-Connection is 1GBit.

    Today we use an old computer with Intel Celeron, 512MB RAM and 2 x 100MBit-Interfaces for WAN and LAN.
    Since a few weeks this old system makes some trouble. Its a bit slow and we have often a reboot of pfSense 1.2.2.

    Now I want to buy a new system based on Intel Atom N270 with 1GB RAM and 2 x 1GBit-Interfaces.
    Mainboard: MSI IM-945GSE-A, Mainboard, Mini-ITX

    We are directly connected to the university-network with 1GBit. So we don't need NAT, we have our own class-C network IP-range.
    The system ist only used as router / firewall and DHCP-Server based on a static MAC-table.

    Has this new system enough power to manage over 100 users? Or would it be better to buy a more powerfull system?

  • I would be tempted to go for a more powerful system.  You have a really high IO requirement.  I would look at a  pair of 1950 DELL servers(some thing inbthat same range) with 4 GB of ram and quad ethernet adapter so you could run CARP and load balance across the servers.

  • There is a recommended hardware spec page, linked off the pfSense home page.  Do read that.

  • I know this hardware spec page. But it doesn't say something over the number of users, only about the throughput.
    Ok, if I have more users I need more throughput. So I think my Atom based system would be to slow.

    DELL servers are really nice . But they are too expensive. We have around 500€ to build a new system.

    I have here a 3 years old Fujitsu-Siemens Workstation with 2x Xeon and 2GBit RAM inside. Perhaps I should try this Workstation with pfSense. It should be fast enough. But the power consumption will be very high.

  • Higher quality network cards will allow you to skimp on the CPU.  If you went for a dual-port Intel GBit Server grade PCIe card you should be able to go for a lower spec CPU.

    Note that the Atom is only efficient if you max it out - because it doesn't support CPU scaling then it's entirely possible for a Core2Duo or AMD chip to be more efficient.  I'd suggest you use the Xeon you've got to work out how close that platform is to being able to handle the load.  Once you know what it's capable of you'll have a rough indicator of the spec you'll need for a more efficient system.

  • It was only starting point.  I am using a quad-phemon with 6 GB of ram.  I have 5 or 6 ethernet cards in it and run it under virtualization.  I have a compaq dl 380 with 2 1.00 processors and 2 GB.  It runs pfsense great.


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