Hardware and software recommendation/requirement
This is a pretty newbish question, but I'd like some advice concerning what I should use for my home network. Long story short… I used to use pfsense on an old PIII and it was great. I switched to running on vmware server (small apartment, married...don't really have the room for another system running) and it was fine untill I went to a 30/5 connection. I have been dissapointed with the throughput with traffic shaping enabled and have had other issues that were easily resolved by clearing states, clearing UPnP or just turning off traffic shaping. So now I'm thinking about what I should run.
I have a network of 5 PCs as well as Vonage, XBox 360, and a Verizon STB (uses the net connection for VoD and scheduling.) I do a lot of bittorrent seeding and I usually see about 5000 states. I do simple traffic shaping with all the rules filtering by IP and the queues are pretty basic with different priorities. I don't really use any other advanced features in pfsense.
I've been thinking about getting something like an alix2c3 so that I can have a dedicated machine running the firewall while taking up minimal space/heat/power. Would the embedded version of pfsense suit my needs? Would m0n0wall be better?
If I don't get an embedded platform is it really worth it to use a dedicated system rather than a virtual one (it has been a pain sometimes when I'm doing things with the Linux server or it's having issues) as far as performance goes? What would be the recommended CPU/RAM for that many connections with traffic shaping?
I've been playing with ALIX 2c3s in my lab. Without shaping turned on or anything I've managed to get north of 90 mbps through 'em with a single TCP stream. Was getting over 42 Mbps through an IPSEC tunnel (had Soekris VPN1411s in them for crypto acceleration of course) between a pair of 2c3s.
It does shaping but I haven't played with it (much), so I can't speak to the cpu impact. Shaping does in fact exist in the embedded images, and I'd guess that given the performance I've seen you'd probably be just peachy on a 30/5 connection.