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OuncleJulien

MMORPG Question

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This is one for you network gurus out there- I''m looking to get a switch capable of supporting 3000ish users (I never except to get this many players but I figure I should prepare for worst cast) When a switch specification says: "Supports 256 VPN connections"- does that mean only 256 clients would be able to connect using TCP through that switch? Fyi- I''m using UDP for most of the game and have a TCP connection for chat and other important stuff.

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OuncleJulien,

A switch or router really doesn''t (shouldn''t) limit the number of incomming TCP connections. What you''re looking at is a switch/router that supports a Virtual Private Network, with 256 concurrent connections.

However, are you looking to setup a LAN-style game? In which case, you would probably be better off with a couple of gigabit switches, with 100Mbit connections to individual nets.

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From Webopedia:

"a network that is constructed by using public wires to connect nodes. For example, there are a number of systems that enable you to create networks using the Internet as the medium for transporting data. These systems use encryption and other security mechanisms to ensure that only authorized users can access the network and that the data cannot be intercepted."

In other words, it''s a private network, that uses a public network as its form of transport. It''s "private" in the sense that it''s encrypted, but it''s "virtual" because anyone could, in theory, access the data, although they would still need the keys to decrypt the data.

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"3,000 players" doesn''t say much. I''m assuming a typical, zones, MMORPG style set-up just for the sake of argument.

Do you want to connect them all to the same switch, sitting in a huge hall? The big Foudries we use in our Colo only do 480 100 MBit ports each; you''d need lots of those. And they''re not very cheap. Out the head end come two 10 Gbit interfaces, for chaining to other switches, or external connectivity.

If your switch is only to support servers for 3,000 players, who are all remotely connected, it''s more important what the bandwidth rate is for the players, and what the available physical interfaces are, as well as what your server infrastructure looks like.

Suppose you''re a very simple game, using a small server cluster, with something like 1 chat/login server, 1 database server, and 14 game zone servers (very simple zoned world set-up), for a total of 3,000 max users. Then you don''t really need more than 16 ports, plus a bit more for redundancy, expansion, and management, which is a total breeze for pretty much any rackable switch out there.

However, what would be needed capacity be? Well, that depends on your traffic flow. If they all connect with modems, you''re unlikely to run out of steam even with a single 100 Mbps interface per server, except possibly for the zone<->database interface, depending on how aggressively you use the database from zone servers. Picking a switch which can support whatever your external physical interface will be seems to be the most important bit; probably there are medium-line Ciscos that would do the job in this case.

3,000 players times 50 kb/s is 150 Mbps, so the head end of the switch needs to be bigger than just a 100 Mbps port, and you''d need something like a 155 Mbit ATM drop to feed it (a little depending on what your service provider or colo has available). Actually, if you''re colo-ed, they worry about the telco stuff, and you can probably feed them a gigabit Ethernet line, which simplifies matters further.

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