PfSense project; Questions and Celeron D vs. Pentium 4 HT vs. Core 2 Duo



  • I'm looking for some help/inputs on an CPU upgrade, but I can't really find any good help on the subject. I have been studying the "Hardware Sizing Guidance" here on pfSense.org. And I have also done some googeling and searched this forum. Some posts have been close, but most of them is old (2007) and such. So that's why I post a new topic, and see what happens (hope to get some input).

    Hard/software
    I recently had the pleasure to get some decent equipment for an insanely good price. For less then 20$ each I got a hold of two IBM s50's with two Dlink DFE-570TX cards. They got socket 775 3Ghz Celeron D CPU's, 1Gb RAM, 40gb drive, and built in Gb nic. And is the size of two small laptops placed ontop of each other. This config gives 5 interfaces (4+1 NIC). One box will be in service, and the other will rest in the shelf for replacement of the first one (backup). On this hardware, I have installed pfSense 1.2.2 (which by the pfSense site, is suppose to be the stable one). I have installed pfSense on the harddrive, and when I did this, I checked /using only one cpu/ option during install. So, now you know my hard/software configuration.

    The reason
    I'm one of those geeks who built myself a nice server room in the basement. I have my own little lab tere, host a few websites (booth private and business), run one DC for two small business (family company), and some big storage for my neighbours (we got a lot of word doc's and photos  ;) hehe). Check here for pics, http://www.nekotokyo.com/serverrum/. In other words, it is for semi-pro use, and on a tight budget. Oh, almost forgot, will throw in a Asterisk PBX there, limited to about 10 users, but not much simultaneous traffic.

    Uses
    The router will be used for (aiming for anyway):

    • SPI Firewall

    • Load balance between 2 trunks, [24/2Mbit PPPoE Dyn.IP]  and  [4/4Mbit Static]

    • VPN Machine with use of maximum of only 3 concurrent users

    • Route traffic between the trunks, DMZ and two subnets, one for the servers, and one for users.

    • DHCP server for above subnets

    • Learning and self education purpose!

    Overview

    This is what I will pull through the pfSense. It might look intimidating at first, but it is quite small with little traffic.

    Test
    Last night I did some testing. Connecting a 30/10 Mbit (when tested it gives 31.5/10.9 Mbit) to the pfSense box. Started 3 simultaneous file transfers (large linux images), and a few torrent transfers as well. According to pfSense the whole trunk where used. After about 5 minutes I checked the CPU utilization in the pfSense GUI. I jumped between 18-26%, avrage 22% usage. After reading the "Hardware Sizing Guide" I got puzzled. Isn't this pretty much usage for just some "small" throughput? This where done using the supplied 3.06 Ghz Celeron CPU.

    I got hungry for some testing and found 2 other CPU's on the shelf. I first tried with a Pentium 4 3.0Ghz HT, when repeating the above, the CPU utilisation had an average about 10%. Great, only half of the Celeron! Next up where a Core 2 6300 1.86 Ghz CPU. Now, here I don't understand why, but someone out there do for sure. The average where now about 24%. In other words a little higher then the Celeron(!). Isn't Core2 Duo suppose to be a faster CPU?

    Questions:

    • Reason(s) why the Celeron "beat" the Core 2 CPU?

    • Should I use a different setting with multi core CPU's in pfSense? (Currently using "single" something setting)

    • Is the high utilisation because of the NAT translation? Is just routing more forgiving on CPU?

    • Would a Celeron be sufficient for the above network setup? Pleases give me some input/advice/thoughts on this.

    • What version of pfSense should I use? Stability is important. (Currently using 1.2.2)

    Comments, thoughts, inputs, questions or whatever, is always welcome.
    If you read through all this, thank you for your time and interest.

    (Being from Sweden, English isn't my native language, so please overlook misspellings and grammatical errors. ;D



  • With the core 2 duo installed did you have Multi-Core enabled at the bios level?  if so and you only chose singleproc for pfsense install wouldn't this make sense?  Pfsense would only use the first cpu out of the two, and its only running at a fraction of the speed of the single core celeron (3.06C vs. 1.86 C2D using one core).  Just a random guess.

    i dont know bsd well so i dont know how the os handles it…

    I would scrap it and reinstall w/ multicpu setup and then test.

    But then how does pf sense display the BOTH CPU percentages, i only see one right now, haven't dug that far yet.



  • If you're trying to objectively see which processor is best for your setup then you should select the SMP kernel during the pfsense install to test out your Core 2 Duo.  Compare that result to the Single Core results you already have for your other two processors.

    @karlzon:

    Questions:

    • What version of pfSense should I use? Stability is important. (Currently using 1.2.2)

    pfSense 1.2.3 RC3 is very stable and soon to be released, numerous improvements over 1.2.2.



  • @zhoffman:

    With the core 2 duo installed did you have Multi-Core enabled at the bios level?  if so and you only chose singleproc for pfsense install wouldn't this make sense?

    Thought so to, but as you say;

    @zhoffman:

    i dont know bsd well so i dont know how the os handles it…

    I don't know either, that's why I'm posting the questions here.

    @zhoffman:

    But then how does pf sense display the BOTH CPU percentages, i only see one right now, haven't dug that far yet.

    Now that a good question! Anyone have an answer to that one?



  • @onhel:

    If you're trying to objectively see which processor is best for your setup then you should select the SMP kernel during the pfsense install to test out your Core 2 Duo.  Compare that result to the Single Core results you already have for your other two processors.

    pfSense 1.2.3 RC3 is very stable and soon to be released, numerous improvements over 1.2.2.

    At the installation I can choose between

    • < Uniprocessor kernel (one cprocessor) >

    • < Symetric multiprocessing kernel (more than one processor) >

    I do know dual and quad have more cores than one, but they still count as one single CPU. But, do you mean that SMP kernel (option two) is for one (1) dualcore CPU to? I though it only mattered if there where more CPU units in one system. Example; dual (2) XEON CPU's in a server.

    I´ll do a fresh install of 1.2.2 again and do a new "test" with the SMP kernel, and see what happens.



  • Sorry, there won´t be any testing…  :-[

    Reinstalled 1.2.2, configured. Exchanged CPU to Dual Core CPU. Booted. No post, no beep...  ???
    Two restarts and noting...  ??? ???

    Removed heatsink and CPU, examing the socket and CPU...  :o  >:(

    Well, seems Intel's wonderful socket just f*cked another guy, two small pins in the middle had short-circuit. And with that melted themselves and one of the contact spots on the CPU. So both motherboard and CPU is ready for the trash can.  :'(

    Lucky I have a spare computer. But no CPU to do test with.
    Anyone here that can answer any above questions without me needing to test them physically?



  • @karlzon:

    I do know dual and quad have more cores than one, but they still count as one single CPU. But, do you mean that SMP kernel (option two) is for one (1) dualcore CPU to? I though it only mattered if there where more CPU units in one system. Example; dual (2) XEON CPU's in a server.

    SMP is for multiple cores or multiple physical processors. It can also be used on a system with only one processor without any real negative effects from what I understand.


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