Like your home plumbing system, your internet access can be congested and backed up. This will result in buffer bloat which may increase delays in your network and applications.
The core function of the Smart Queue is to help you to decongest your network, decrease buffer bloat, and allows you to have better zoom calls. This feature can be turned on with a single button, and if needed, you can further customize the policies behind it.
Underneath the covers, the smart queue management feature can be broken down into these features
Active queue management is the policy of dropping packets in the network before that buffer becomes full, often with the goal of reducing network congestion or improving end-to-end latency. Firewalla uses fq_codel
- FQ_Codel (Fair Queuing Controlled Delay) is a queuing discipline that combines Fair Queuing with the CoDel AQM scheme. FQ_Codel uses a stochastic model to classify incoming packets into different flows and is used to provide a fair share of the bandwidth to all the flows using the queue. (source, Linux man pages)
- CAKE (TBD)
Traffic Shaping and Rate Limit
Firewalla can set a download or upload limit from the following targets
- Category of traffic (video, gaming ...)
- IP Address/Range
In addition to limiting bandwidth usage, you can prioritize traffic by creating smart queue rules. The priority applies to both Upload and Download traffic, it can be set to one of the followings:
- High: For video conferencing/voice chat/gaming and other traffic that requires minimum delay.
- Default: Default priority for all traffic.
- Low: For P2P or other non-essential services run in the background to prevent network congestion.
- In general, turning on the smart queue will make your flow traffic a bit more smooth. We recommend you to turn the feature on. (Simple or Advanced Smart Queue Management).
- If you have the Gold, and your download or upload bandwidth is low, applying a simple rate limit that's 90% or 95% of your max bandwidth will make your delay a lot better. For example, Xfinity in the SF/Bay Area is 1Gbit down and 40Mbit up, here the upload is limited. To make your experience smoother, you may want to apply the rule to limit "upload traffic" to 90 or 95% of the max. (36, or 38mbit). This will minimize the delay in zoom meetings.
- If you have gigabit download and upload, you shouldn't need to do any rate limit. Turning on the smart queue is enough.
- Some of our earlier customers were able to shape video traffic to reduce bandwidth usage. Which reduces the quality of the video from 1080P to 720P.
- Traffic Shaping is less effective if your network is not congested.
- Some of you may use internet tools to test latency or buffer bloat. Please remember, buffer bloat is end to end, which means, Firewalla is just part of the puzzle (intermediate routers will also buffer). For example, if you are running the test when your neighbors are also busy ... it is likely you will get a lot more buffer bloat than if you are doing it when people are at using their internet.