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HD Video over Wi-Fi – Aruba Debunks Cisco ClientLink 2.0, 4×4 MIMO, and Video Performance

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Today I am putting the issue of Cisco's superior AP technology (ClientLink 2.0, 4 x 4 MIM) and video density performance vs. Aruba to rest once and for all. Unlike Cisco, we have not paid for an "independent 3rd party" to write up a report in which no configuration or setup information is shared. Instead, we have provided all test setup, methodologies, and configurations for both vendors. We have also made every attempt to optimize Cisco per their latest documentation and best practices and provide an apples-to-apples comparison.

Aruba's Technical Marketing team has completed a set of repeatable tests comparing Aruba's AP-135 AP running 6.1.3.2 software to Cisco's 3600 AP running 7.2-103 software. We have taken each of the Miercom tests in sequence and have refuted each one in turn.

First we take a close look at "rate vs. range" performance using Ixia Chariot and comparing Aruba to Cisco at several locations, and we demonstrate that ClientLink 2.0 and 4 x 4 MIMO are still inferior to Aruba's built-in performance and ARM benefits:

  • Aruba outperforms Cisco at three non-line of sight (NLOS) locations for both TCP download and TCP upload performance by 11-13% at 30'
  • At 120', a MacBook Pro cannot connect to the Cisco network but is able to maintain a decent throughput with the Aruba AP
  • Aruba performs 50% better than Cisco for an iPad tablet that is rotated to a vertical orientation
  • At some key testing locations, Cisco performs better with ClientLink 2.0 off than on

Next we tackle video density, and there are essentially three main tests: HD multicast streaming using VLC media server and a mix of laptops running 2 or 5 Mbps streams, a high density of iPads running TCP unicast Air Video, and a high-performance density mix of clients and applications.

For the multicast streaming test, we leveraged Aruba's distributed dynamic multicast optimization (D-DMO) feature to provide the highest video scale in the industry today. Aruba accommodated 16% more 2 Mbps videos than Cisco (51 vs. 44), and 25% more 5 Mbps videos than Cisco (39 vs. 31) with good quality. The iPad test included one iPad which was mirroring to an Apple TV, and other iPads were added until poor quality (buffering and freezes) was observed. Aruba accommodated 31% more iPads streaming 1 Mbps video than Cisco (21 vs. 16).

The high density mixed application test was a bit more complex, as there were different client types (3 x 3, 2 x 2, 1 x 1, Intel, Broadcom, Apple TV) and applications (multicast video, unicast video, AirPlay, large data file transfers) all operating simultaneously in a highly dense scenario. Aruba was able to accommodate 37 clients in this heterogeneous mix, and the following comparison was made with Cisco:

In the Aruba case, high quality video (both 2 and 5 Mbps video) was observed without any artifacts, including pixilation or video freezes. The iPad videos did not exhibit any buffering or video quality issues. The Apple TV stream was low-latency, reflecting what was seen on both the iPad and the projected screen simultaneously. The 11 GB FTP file download never timed out.

For Cisco, the HD video (both 2 and 5 Mbps) experienced a significant amount of pixilation artifacts and video freezes across all laptops. There was noticeable buffering on the iPads playing TCP video. The Apple TV had difficulty mirroring, and there was significant latency between the iPad and the projected monitor. Finally, the 11 GB FTP file download timed out in the middle of the test.

The key here is that Cisco is not optimized for BYOD high-performance, application delivery, does not have an integrated stateful firewall, and does not outperform Aruba in any test.

Finally, we ran a large file transfer to a tablet and showed comparative battery drain performance. We did not see any significant differences in battery life at the end of the test (6% drains for both Aruba and Cisco).

Did we do this in an Aruba location?  Yes.  The difference is that Aruba stands behind the test data we have provided. A link to the test report with all configuration changes for both vendors is provided here for you to test yourself.

Test report at http://www.arubanetworks.com/pdf/technology/TB_Wi-Fi_Benchmark.pdf

And, as we like to do at Aruba, we provided a video to keep you all entertained during the test!

Check it out at http://youtu.be/cWm3_y1TPKM

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