How fast is FastLynx TCP/IP ?
Someone recently asked how fast FastLynx can transfer data using a
gigabit ethernet card. Well, there are a few important factors that
affect transfer speeds.
First, fast ethernet (what most cards use these days) runs
at 100 Mbps (megabits per second). Gigabit ethernet runs at 1 Gbps
(gigabits per second) which is roughly equivalent to 1000 Mbps–100
times faster than fast ethernet. So theoretically, transfers
could be 100 times faster than with the average ethernet card.
NOTE: the terms megabits and gigabits are slightly
misleading. For those who don’t know, there is a difference between
megabits and megabytes. A byte is made up of 8 bits.
We usually use the term byte or megabyte when referring to
file sizes or memory capacity. However, when talking about bandwidth or
network transmission capacity, we use bits–don’t ask why,
it’s just tradition. The point is that a 100 Mbps ethernet card has the
ability to transfer about 12.5 megabytes (MB) of data through itself
every second. A Gigabit card has the ability to transfer 125 MB of data
through itself every second.
Secondly, transfer speeds are only as fast as the slowest link. For
example, if one computer has a 100 Mbps card and the second has a 1000
Mbps card, then the transfer will be limited by the top speed of the
slower computer, i.e., 100 Mbps.
Thirdly, network congestion can also slowdown a transfer. If you are
sharing the network with other users, e.g., game playing teenagers,
it’s not unlikely that their network traffic can cause congestion on
the network. This basically means that the routers that shuffle your
data in and out of your network have to divide their time between your
data and the gamers’ data.
Fourthly, propagation delay can sometimes slowdown a transfer. If
you are transferring files to a computer in China, your data has to
travel many thousands of miles to reach its destination. I know it’s
surprising, but in such cases, even though your data is traveling at
nearly the speed of light, you will often experience a noticable delay
due to the sheer distance that your data is traveling. The horrible
truth about this slowdown factor is that we can’t do anything about
it–you can’t increase the speed of light. So much for realtime video
conferencing with aliens on Mars.
Fifthly, network errors can cause slowdowns. This is termed as
“dropping packets”. In today’s wired networks, this problem has been
minimalized. However, in wireless networks, all sorts of interference
can cause packets to be dropped, necessitating retransmission which
slows down the overall transfer rate. Whether it be from two many
laptops trying to use the same wireless access point or your neighbor’s
microwave oven flooding the air with interference, network errors can
significantly decrease transfer speeds.
Finally, your computer’s processing speed can play a big role. I
said earlier that a gigabit card has the ability to transfer
at 1000 Mbps. However, if your computer is bogged down with 5 Internet
Explorer windows, 2 Word documents, Outlook, Norton Anti-virus, iTunes,
and a game of Solitaire, then your computer probably won’t be able to
shove enough data down to the gigabit ethernet card to use its full
So, when you’re transferring your files with FastLynx, and you want
it to go faster, try tweaking a few of these parameters. Oh, and let me
know if you find a way to increase the speed of light. You and I could
make a lot of money…