by R. K. Bloom

GN-WLMA101 from Gigabyte

GN-WLMA101 from Gigabyte

Introduction

Many have not only heard of wireless network equipment standard 802.11b, but they themselves have tried to work the equipment of the standard. But today, when the demands on network capacity increases every day, just talking about hardware-11b, probably not quite true. Manufacturers of chipsets for wireless networking equipment reduce the power consumption of their products and reduce their size, while expanding their capabilities.

Began to appear not only single-band dual-802.11b products and 802.11g, operating in the 2.4 GHz band, but dual-band devices operating in the 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz band. In this dual-band devices can operate in two standards (802.11a and 802.11b), and three standards (802.11a, 802.11b and 802.11g).

Today, the relatively low price, by the standards of six months ago, you can buy a two-or tri-mode device. With this you get a device that can work in networks of wireless standards 802.11 family.

We tested the dual-mode dual-band wireless LAN GN-WLMA101, manufactured by Gigabyte, got to our office.

Key Features

GN-WLMA101 a PCMCIA adapter that supports the standards 802.11a and 802.11b, while 802.11a standard is using, it is possible to activate the so-called Turbo-mode, in which the speed is doubled, and is 108 Mbit / s . This possibility is achieved by combining the two channels for data transmission. However, there is a “but” the use of 5 GHz band in Russia is not officially allowed.

The device is a Cardbus Type II adapter is a standard size with a slight thickening of the outer parts. Note that this thickening we find not the first time on a dual-mode wireless PCMCIA adapters. The only thing we would like to see a map of a compact size, without thickening. On the upper, outer part of the map there are two LED indicators: power and activity. The card supports the security standard AES (Advanced Encryption System), security tools and 802.1x security standard WEP with key lengths of 64, 128 and 152 bits. On the drive, complete with a map supplied drivers for the OS Windows 98SE/Me/2000/XP. As the system requirements, pending IBM PC / AT compatible computer.

As with most PCMCIA cards for GN-WLMA101 no connector for an external antenna, however, the built-in antenna has a good enough gain, so you should have no problem in most cases, unless of course youre not going to use an adapter in the areas with weak signal.

Referring to the adapter supplied: in the card comes bundled, instructions on paper in three languages ??(English and two completely incomprehensible – Chinese and Japanese), CD with documentation in the same languages, drivers, and utility. It remains only to add that all this is offered in a beautiful cardboard box.

Features

Installation

Problems with the installation of the device in a test laptop does not have arisen. Map was installed with no problems, all the necessary drivers and utilities installed, and after a reboot, we were able to enjoy the work of the wireless network connection. As usual, we have decided to download the latest drivers and utilities. Here we were a little surprised: asked to download several different versions, but the volume of all sets of passes for 10 megabytes, which can cause some difficulties when downloading. But then everything goes smoothly, except that the drivers are not digitally signed, and Windows XP “swearing” when they are installed, but no more.

Setting

To adjust the proposed utility Gigabyte G-EzLink. It should be noted that the utility has seemed to us quite comfortable with the management point of view. There are five tabs: connection information (Association Info), available online 802.11a / b (802.11a / b Site Survey), Statistics (Statistics), configuration (Configuration) and information about the driver (Driver Info).

The first tab shows the status of current connections: signal strength, MAC address of the device, which carried out the connection, the network ID, connection type, as well as data sent / received packets.

As can be seen in the picture above, on the second tab you can view available networks, and the current connection.

The third tab is used to display statistical data about your current connection. Here is a very detailed statistics on many parameters compounds.

This tab is used to configure the basic parameters of the connection: connection type (Infrastructure or Ad Hoc). It also set the SSID and select the power saving mode. It also set up the security network. You can not use anything, but we strongly recommend you do not – do not open the door of your network for intruders. You can configure the use of security WEP, as we mentioned, you can configure the use of keys with lengths of 64, 128 or 152 bits. However, as you know, means to provide protection for WEP networks is impossible today. Gigabyte has implemented support for dynamic security tools such as LEAP or 802.1x, which can provide greater protection of data transferred.

The last tab displays information about the driver used.

In the image shown above shows the screen of the box. As you can see, there are set parameters such as the way to search for available networks, Preamble 802.11b, QoS – quality of service, level of transmit power and modes of operation are selected card.

Here you define the security settings WEP, to be more precise, we specify the encryption keys. You can enter the keys either as ASCII text or hexadecimal values, as they say, the taste and color … Keys can not be saved to a file, so you better write their values, so you can type them on all other devices on your network.

Performance

Of course, we could not test the performance of this device. So not to waste any more time, lets start the fun part – to performance testing.

We tested 802.11b part of the map on a laptop iRU Stilo 3115, based on Intel Centrino technology processor at 1600 MHz with 512 MB of RAM, connected to the wireless router was carried SMC7004WFW standard 802.11b, manufactured by SMC Networks, a test partner was a machine based on AMD Athlon XP 2000 + c 256 MB of RAM. On both test partner was installed OS Windows XP Professional.

We test the 802.11a, unfortunately failed. Recall that the use of the standard equipment is prohibited in Russia. When you switch cards, it quickly found an available network and provided an opportunity to connect to it.

Throughput testing was conducted at four different conditions:

Condition 1 – close distance (less than three meters, with no obstructions)

Condition 2 – close to using WEP encryption with a key length of 128 bits (distance less than three meters, with no obstructions)

Condition 3 – when the signal level 60%

Condition 4 – and the removal of a strong (signal level of about 20%).

The results of testing the speed of 802.11b are shown in the table below.

As can be seen on the results of tests given table, the adapter has shown good results. We have not noticed any significant impact on the WEP encryption throughput. It should also be noted, and a fairly high data rates in the latter, the most “serious” condition. This adapter is automatically lowered the connection speed, which helped to keep the average latency below 10 milliseconds, which is within the rather stringent requirements. All that is less than 10 milliseconds is usually not noticeable, even when working with data, time-critical delivery.

The bandwidth was of a sufficiently stable, no significant fall in the throughput tests, we have not noticed. We only note a sharp drop at the completion of tests.

Testing the capacity of the system was performed using NetIQ Chariot. We ran the script measurement bandwidth, the amount of data for each transmission of 1 MB with the number of repetitions – 100. To test the delays we have used the same system, setting the number of times in 1000, and the data packet is 100 bytes.

Average throughput turned out more than 5 Mbit / s, the speed of the connection is established automatically. The average time delay does not exceed a 10-millisecond threshold, which is very commendable.

Conclusion.

Gigabyte presented quite a good product. Bandwidth is shown as a result of testing was high. In addition, we think it is worth noting the stability of the connection – the time delay does not exceed ten milliseconds. Time lowered the rate card, which allowed to maintain the stability of the connection. Of course, I would like to see support for 802.11g in this adapter. We liked the client utility, both in terms of design, and for convenience. Of course, we were not able to fully test the adapter, 802.11a-part has not been tested, but for the Russian law-abiding users of wireless networking equipment is not true – the standard equipment in our country can not be used. In general, the adapter has shown very good results both in performance and stability for bandwidth. The advantages and costs include support for the protocol version of the draft 802.11e, regulating the quality of service – QoS.