Ruckus Wireless Defeats Cisco and Aruba in First Comprehensive Open Air, 802.11n Product Tests Performed by Tom’s Hardware

Ruckus ZoneFlex Smart WLAN System Performed Up to 16X Faster Than Competitors’, Exposing Their Weaknesses in Delivering Sustainable Performance Using Conventional RF Technology

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SUNNYVALE, CA – August 18, 2009 – Ruckus Wireless today announced that it handily defeated leading wireless LAN (WLAN) vendors in a series of rigorous “open RF” 802.11n WLAN tests conducted by Tom’s Hardware, one of the Internet’s premiere resources for unbiased reviews, news and information on technology.

In a battery of range and performance tests across five different locations, the Ruckus ZoneFlex 802.11n Smart WLAN system posted impressive throughput gains ranging from 36 to 180 Mbps over equivalent WLAN systems from Cisco and Aruba. The testing included, for the first time, a review of Cisco’s newest chip-based beamforming technology.

According to Tom’s Hardware: “The future of video-capable Wi-Fi depends on a directional signal-boosting technique called beamforming…[the][/the] Ruckus approach to on-antenna beamforming could prove revolutionary in inspiring the next wave of wireless networking designs.”

Unlike many wireless LAN tests where access points (APs) are placed in a controlled RF chamber with the antennas detached to eliminate any test ambiguities caused by changes in the environment, Tom’s Hardware was the first to conduct a comprehensive review of 802.11n products in a real-world, “open air” environment where obstacles, interference and distance play a crucial role, affecting consistent performance at different distances.

“We welcome and encourage this type of wireless testing because it reflects how customers actually deploy and use wireless products,” said Steve Martin, VP of Engineering for Ruckus Wireless. “This testing was particularly significant because it measured performance using different traffic types, multiple frequencies, distance, obstacles and even client rotation. These are exactly the kinds of issues that customers wrestle with every day.”

Test Methodology and Tools

For the comparative WLAN testing, Tom’s Hardware reviewed the following products:

  • the Aruba AP 125 and Aruba 3200 controller (firmware 3.4.0.1)
  • the Ruckus ZoneFlex 7962 AP and ZoneDirector 1006 controller (firmware 8.0.1.0) and
  • the Cisco Aironet AIR-LAP 1142N AP and the Cisco 4402 controller (firmware 6.0.182.0)

To mimic a real world enterprise experience, Tom’s Hardware measured both UDP and TCP wireless performance in both the 2.4GHz and 5GHz spectrum across five different locations ranging from ten to 105 feet. Tom’s Hardware used a multi-story business park in 7,000 square feet of standard office space to conduct the tests.

While the vast majority of wireless testing reports the average throughput (data-grade) that wireless clients can expect to see 50 percent of the time, Tom’s Hardware also tested for sustained (video grade) throughput that a user would experience 99.5 percent of the time. This is particularly important for applications that require continuous bandwidth, to deliver voice without dropouts or high-quality video without artifacts, for example. It also gives IT managers a more accurate assessment of how their WLAN will perform in a “near worst case” scenario.

For the testing, Tom’s Hardware used the industry-standard IxChariot test tool to simulate real-world TCP data traffic and a sophisticated traffic generation tool to simulate UDP video traffic. To simulate real world Wi-Fi user behavior, tests were repeated with the orientation of the client devices rotated a quarter-turn each time and the results were then averaged.

Competitive Test Results

In all UDP and TCP testing in both the 2.4 and 5GHz bands, the Ruckus ZoneFlex system significantly outperformed all devices under test, delivering dramatic performance increases across all five locations.

In the closest location, separating the AP and client by 10 to 15 feet, the Ruckus ZoneFlex system delivered TCP/UDP data-grade performance of 133 and 236 Mbps respectively within the 5 GHz band – 95 to 180 percent faster than the nearest competitor. In the 2.4 GHz band, the Ruckus ZoneFlex system delivered TCP/ UDP data-grade performance of 67 and 134 Mbps respectively – 27 to 95 percent faster than the nearest competitor.

As distance was increased and obstacles began obstructing the Wi-Fi signals, performance changed dramatically. At the most difficult location, separating the AP and client by 95 feet and six walls, the Ruckus ZoneFlex system delivered TCP/UDP data-grade performance of 62 and 141 Mbps respectively within the 5 GHz band – 58 to 116 percent faster than competitors. In the 2.4 GHz band, the Ruckus ZoneFlex system delivered TCP/UDP data-grade performance of 36 and 78 Mbps respectively – 77 to 110 percent faster than the nearest competitor.

Video-grade TCP/UDP testing across all locations revealed even bigger performance differences. To view all the competitive test results, visit http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/beamforming-wifi-ruckus,2390.html

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