10 Gig SpeedTest server Intel Nuc

Recently a client testing their 5G solution came to me asking for a solution to testing speed from their CBRS/5G/802.11ax clients.  One of the requirements was it had to support greater than 1 gig speedtests as close to the devices as possible. This particular client has a small cell device which has room for a small form factor PC. The challenge was finding a small PC that could handle a 10 gig port.

In steps my buddy John from Columbus.  John is up on hardware more than I am.  After some talks, we settled on the following two pieces of hardware.

https://www.amazon.com/NUC8i7BEH-Quad-Core-i7-8559U-Bluetooth-Thunderbolt/dp/B07JJPF8MV/

https://www.amazon.com/Sonnet-Technologies-Thunderbolt-10GBASE-T-SOLO10G-TB3/dp/B07BZRK8R8/

Intel Nuc, Sonnet 10 Gig adaptor, Mikrotik HexS

Once we assembled this we need a router for the Internet and DHCP. We chose a RouterBoard hexS
https://www.ispsupplies.com/MikroTik-RouterBOARD-RB760iGS

As a not both of these will run off DC power.  The Nuc comes with a 19Volt power supply so if you are running Pure DC you may want to drop from, say a 24volt battery bank to 19 volt with a Meanwell converter.

The Software
Proxmox was installed on the Nuc.  Nothing crazy about this. Just make sure the thunderbolt adaptor is plugged in during install.  For our purposes, we are just using the 10 gig adaptor.  Proxmox recognizes the adaptor without a hiccup.

In some earlier blog posts I wrote about the self-hosted speedtests.
https://blog.j2sw.com/networking/self-hosted-speed-test/
https://blog.j2sw.com/xisp/self-hosted-speedtest/ (Patreon Subscription Required)

I installed the self-hosted speedtest under a Centos Minimal Install. Everything was put on a 172.16.x.x network.  This was done in order to prevent any conflicts with various types of Internet the Mikrotik may be plugged into.  By default, port 1 is set up to be a DHCP client.  In our setup, the Internet is the bottleneck, but we are not testing the Internet.  We are testing clients on the 5g/CBRS/802.11ax network. Our 10 gig port on the nuc will be plugged into a 10 gig switch at the small cell, and not into our routerboard.  The routerboard is just there to hand out DHCP and allow Internet access, if available.

 

 

 

 

Ubiquiti launches Speedtest Server/network

https://blog.ui.com/2019/08/13/ubiquiti-launches-a-speed-test-network/

Ubiquiti launches the Ubiquiti Speedtest, the first public test network integrated with enterprise network equipment. Ubiquiti Speedtest comprises a network of test servers and built-in speed test capabilities. Reports include uplink/downlink throughput and latency. Sharing the results is easy via email or social media.

It appears you can run this on a Ubuntu server or VM. They have an installer and a docker image.   You can do browser-based speed tests or their WiFiman App.

Tests may run over LAN, Wi-Fi, or mobile networks. Ubiquiti Speedtest uses Ubiquiti test endpoints and provides automated and manual test target selection. The automated selection uses a combination of geolocation and latency measurements for determining the best servers. The algorithm may use several parallel endpoints for the best measurement accuracy.

The problem with speedtests

Imagine this scenario. Outside your house, the most awesome superhighway has been built.  It has a speed limit of 120 Mile Per Hour.  You calculate at those speeds you can get to and from work 20 minutes earlier. Life is good.  Monday morning comes, you hop in your 600 horsepower Nissan GT-R, put on some new leather driving gloves, and crank up some good driving music.  Your pull onto the dedicated on-ramp from your house and are quickly cruising at 120 Miles an hour. You make it into work before most anyone else. Life is good.  

Near the end of the week, you notice more and more of your neighbors and co-workers using this new highway.  Things are still fast, but you can’t get up to speed like you could earlier in the week.  As you ponder why you notice you are coming up on the off-ramp to your work.  Traffic is backed up. Everyone is trying to get to the same place.  As you are waiting in the line to get off the superhighway, you notice folks passing you by going on down the road at high rates of speed.  You surmise your off-ramp must be congested because it is getting used more now.

Speedtest servers work the same way. A speedtest server is a destination on the information super-highway. Man, there is an oldie term.  To understand how these servers work we need a quick understanding of how the Internet works.   The internet is basically a bunch of virtual cities connected together.  Your local ISP delivers a signal to you via Wireless, Fiber, or some sort of media. When it leaves your house it travels to the ISP’s equipment and is aggregated with your neighbors and sent over faster lines to larger cities. It’s just like a road system. You may get access via a gravel road, which turns into a 2 lane blacktop, which then may turn into a 4 lane highway, and finally a super-highway.  The roads you take depend on where you are going. Your ISP may not have much control over how the traffic flows once it leaves their network.

Bottlenecks can happen anywhere. Anything from fiber optic cuts, oversold capacity, routing issues, and plain old unexpected usage. Why are these important? All of these can affect your results and can be totally out of control of your ISP and you.  They can also be totally your ISP’s fault.

They can also be your fault, just like your car can be.  An underpowered router can be struggling to keep up with your connection.Much like a moped on the above super-highway can’t keep up with a 600 horsepower car, your router might not be able to keep up either.  Other things can cause issues such as computer viruses, and low performing components.

Just about any network can become a speedtest.net node or a node with some of the other speedtest sites.  These networks have to meet minimum requirements, but there is no indicator of how utilized these servers are.  A network could put up one and it’s 100 percent utilized when you go running a test. This doesn’t mean your ISP is slow, just the off-ramp to that server is slow.

The final thing we want to talk about is the utilization of your internet pipe from your ISP.  This is something most don’t take into consideration.  Let’s go back to our on-ramp analogy.  Your ISP is selling you a connection to the information super-highway.   Say they are selling you a 10 meg download connection.  If you have a device in your house streaming an HD Netflix stream, which is typically 5 megs or so, that means you only have 5 megs available for a capacity test while that HD stream is happening. Speedtest only tests your current available capacity.  Many folks think a speedtest somehow stops all the traffic on your network, runs the test, and starts the traffic. It doesn’t work that way. Your available capacity is only tested at that point in time.  The same is true for any point between you and the speedtest server.  Remember our earlier analogy about slowing down when you got to work because there were so many people trying to get there.  They exceeded the capacity of that destination.  However, that does not mean your connection is necessarily slow because people were zooming past you on their way to less congested destinations.

This is why results to a server should be taken with a grain of salt. They are a useful tool, but not an absolute. The speedtest server is just a destination.  That destination can have bottlenecks, but others don’t.  Even after this long article, there are many other factors which can affect Internet speed. Things we didn’t touch on like Peering, the technology used, speed limits, and other things can also affect your internet speed to destinations.

Self-Hosted speedtest

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