> Would it be possible to put together a $100 device that looks and works like
> a hub however it has allready wired into it NAT service so in a sence this
> device would connect directly to your cable modem then attach the client
> computers to it. This would take out the need for a computer to take a
> performance hit of doing the NAT conversions.
> What do you all think?
Actually, I bet there's going to be a very big market for this type of
device as the number of cable modems increases and PCs become as common
as the TV set (2 in every house?)...
I use a box called a UGate made by UMax. This box connects to a
modem/ISDN TA via the rs232 port and does NAT to a 10bT port. It works
pretty well, but the NAT implementation is pretty slim. Personally, I'd
like to see some static mapping put into the microcode, but that's just
Anyway, this device doesn't really do you a whole lot of good because
the gateway interface is ppp over rs232 serial. I haven't popped the
box open yet, but I bet 5 to 1 that there's a very popular
micro-controller at the heart of this device with a UART on one side and
a ethernet controller on the other. I don't want to be the one who
reverse engineers the micro-code or the guy who hacks out the UART.
There might be some performance issues with using a low end
micro-controller for ethernet to ethernet NAT that are mitigated by
stepping down to the UART's max transmission rate to 240Kbps.
To address the obvious choice of just using 2 computers... My girlfriend
has a hard enough time figuring out that I've disconnected her monitor
and that she needs to re-connect it to her computer. Giving her
instructions on how to boot my computer (dual boot linux/95) and run
whatever gateway program is on par with rocket science from her
prospective. I'd much rather have a black box that sits next the cable
modem ready to serve 24/7.
Maybe there's someone out there knows someone at UMax? There's enough
NAT code floating around that someone could possibly use a stripped down
version of linux on a custom 486 with two OEM ethernet controllers
(check out www.psychosis.com/linux-router/ and
www.arm.uk.linux.org/~rmk/armlinux.html to see just how embedded Linux
as gotten recently... Linux on a Psion Series 5... ummm... WinCE blows
enough to make this REALLY attractive). Maybe it could be built for
less than $150. The only gotcha' would be that the source for the
device would need to be GPLed. No biggie, as long as the hardware sells
like hot cakes.
There's another product application that I've been tossing about... This
type of device could double as a personal firewall. I was thinking
about having a box with 2 ethernet and 2 serial ports. It could be
configured for ethernet to ethernet, ethernet to serial or serial to
serial connections. You could use it at home via your analogue or cable
modem. You could use it at work. It could do nifty things like force
packet reassembly ignore broadcast DoS attacks, and let YOU implement
your own security policy rather than be at the mercy of some braindead
Microsoft Certified Enjuinerr. Maybe throw in some encryption and
authentication functionality was well (can you say "Java Ring" or
fehh.. whatever... another idea to pile on the technology s*heap...