APU vs TLSense CPU performance comparison
This article has been updated on August 6, 2020.
Note: the text of this article is not updated with the latest models. The data and charts in the spreadsheet are up to date - if you are looking for the new models view the source-data spreadsheet. It's been updated on 2021-10-24
If you plan to run a VPN server/client on your router or IPS/IDS software, you may be interested in exact CPU performance before making a purchase. For that reason, we have executed a CPU benchmark on all routers offered in the store.
All tests have been executed using sysbench 1.0.18 and openssl 1.1.1d on the Debian 10 4.19.0-9-amd64 system.
The following commands have been executed to measure raw CPU performance. Note, we measure 1 thread, 2 threads, and 4 threads.
sysbench --test=cpu --cpu-max-prime=50000 --time=30 run --threads=1 sysbench --test=cpu --cpu-max-prime=50000 --time=30 run --threads=2 sysbench --test=cpu --cpu-max-prime=50000 --time=30 run --threads=4
And these commands were executed to measure the encryption/decryption performance.
openssl speed -elapsed -evp aes-128-cbc openssl speed -elapsed -evp aes-256-cbc openssl speed -elapsed -evp aes-128-gcm openssl speed -elapsed -evp aes-256-gcm
The raw results are available in the text file, but that's a little dry to read and analyze so here's a read-only google spreadsheet with the data and charts https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1kbNbFivVorgUQsrLl_fVUkrCqesYnC0Hm8hY-Ft7n8s/edit?usp=sharing
Single-core CPU performance
The single-thread performance is essential for applications that can't take advantage of multiple CPU cores. For example Snort is single-threaded.
BSD operating systems (pfSense and OPNsense) use one CPU core per TCP connection. Linux-based operating systems such as OpenWRT or IPFire don't have that limitation.
i3-4010U is just a little faster than APU. i5-4510U has roughly double single-thread performance of APU in single-core.
It's interesting that the most powerful router we sell is only about 4x more performant than APU in a single-thread CPU test.
Multi-core CPU performance
Multiple-core performance is important for applications that are multi-threaded such as Suricata or Wireguard VPN. As mentioned earlier, it also helps with routing multiple TCP connections concurrently.
CPU performance summary
The results speak for themselves. i5-4210U is roughly 80-100% more performant than APU. i7-6500U is approximately 130-180% more performant.
I was a little surprised about how good APU routers compare to the more expensive and more power-consuming CPUs. More about this in summary.
All CPUs have AES-NI support, so the encryption/decryption should be relatively fast. Let's compare two popular algorithms AES-CBC and AES-GCM.
AES-CBC performance comparison
The AES-CBC performance follows roughly the CPU performance from the previous chart. No big surprises here.
TLSense i5-4200U is roughly twice as performant as APU with AES-CBC. i5-6200U is approximately 2 times more performant than i5-4210U.
The performance scales roughly with the price.
AES-CBC is an older, less performant algorithm. It's also less secure than AES-GCM, so we should not pay too much attention to these numbers, as everyone is encouraged to use AES-GCM these days.
AES-GCM performance comparison
I expected the AES-GCM test to be proportional to the CPU test, but that's not the case. Intel CPUs have much better AES-GCM acceleration than APU.
The data clearly shows that TLSense routers are much better at VPN and other cryptographic operations than APU.
Based on this chart, we can estimate that i5-4210U can achieve up to ~650Mbit/s, and i7-6500U can run at full Gigabit.
Power consumption comparison
Power consumption is an important factor for devices that are always-on 24/7/365.
All routers offered by us have efficient, low-power CPUs.
APU consumes 6W while other routers consume 15W of electricity. APU is 2.5 more energy efficient.
i5-7500F has a desktop-class CPU which makes it more energy hungry.
Assuming that the router is operating around the clock, Passively cooled TLSense devices will consume 131.4kWh/year while APU consumes 52.56kWj/year.
APU routers have less horsepower than TLSense routers, but that's not surprising.
With the power consumption and price in mind, APU routers compare very well for every-day routing needs. Most users don't run a VPN client or IPS/IDS software on the router. For those users, APU will perform just as well as TLSense.
IPS/IDS and VPN are where the TLSense routers shine. Here the performance is 400-800% better than APU.