Implications of Gigabit Internet to the Home

I recently got gigabit Internet at home (the CenturyLink variant was the only choice in my neighborhood). Overall its going well so far although I can easily peg my router (ASUS RT-AC66U) to the point where it can’t route traffic although there is plenty of remaining bandwidth. The router is just a couple of years old and supports 802.11AC on both bands, but has a fairly puny CPU which just can’t keep up. I’ll post a bit more on my next router in a couple of weeks.

In the meantime I’ve been thinking a bit about the implications of having gigabit to the home. In retrospect this is all pretty “duh” but my home computer has a better connection to various cloud data centers than it does to the spinning disk enclosed inside its own box. I can do 1000Mbps or about 125MBps with ~8-12ms ping times to some of the commercial cloud data centers. While a 7200RPM spinning disk appears to be able to do around 200MBps (sequential reads) with about an 8ms latency. Ok, so the spinning disk wins by a little bit in this best-case scenario for it (it is down to ~75MBps for random reads and if you do 4k reads instead of 2MB reads it shrinks to ~0.3MBps).

But still, that is seriously close. My workstations typically have a smaller SSD for performance sensitive stuff (ok, I typically have 2 now, one for the boot drive and another for source code), and a bigger spinning disk for big things like videos, photos, games, etc. You could seriously remote that later application over the Internet and not really notice the performance difference.

When I ordered my connection the sales person said that most people in my neighborhood were not opting for the full gigabit and that she frankly told anyone who didn’t specifically ask for it that they don’t need it. Which does seem like the right advice given where the software and cloud services are today. But I suspect that is no longer true in just a couple of years. Which is probably why Google is building out their own gigabit Internet around the country (with the added bonus that for their own customers they can make sure the latency is right when connecting to their own data-centers).

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