Broadcom Wireless Drivers - wl vs. b43 - Performance Comparison

I've compared the performance of both drivers with a simple iperf test over a few meters:

Broadcom Proprietary Driver:

TCP

------------------------------------------------------------
TCP window size: 85.3 KByte (default)  
------------------------------------------------------------
[ 4] local 192.168.178.24 port 5001 connected with 192.168.178.34 port 46362
[ 4] 0.0-10.2 sec 24.6 MBytes 20.2 Mbits/sec  
[ 5] local 192.168.178.24 port 5001 connected with 192.168.178.34 port 46363
[ 5] 0.0-10.2 sec 24.6 MBytes 20.2 Mbits/sec
[ 4] local 192.168.178.24 port 5001 connected with 192.168.178.34 port 46365
[ 4] 0.0-10.2 sec 24.0 MBytes 19.8 Mbits/sec

UDP
------------------------------------------------------------
Receiving 1470 byte datagrams
UDP buffer size: 375 KByte (default)
------------------------------------------------------------
[ 3] local 192.168.178.24 port 5001 connected with 192.168.178.34 port 35141[ 3] 0.0-10.0 sec 24.2 MBytes 20.2 Mbits/sec 1.364 ms 0/17239 (0%)[ 3] 0.0-10.0 sec 1 datagrams received out-of-order[ 4] local 192.168.178.24 port 5001 connected with 192.168.178.34 port 38437[ 4] 0.0-10.0 sec 27.2 MBytes 22.8 Mbits/sec 1.837 ms 0/19418 (0%)[ 4] 0.0-10.0 sec 1 datagrams received out-of-order[ 3] local 192.168.178.24 port 5001 connected with 192.168.178.34 port 45356[ 3] 0.0-10.0 sec 28.8 MBytes 24.1 Mbits/sec 1.319 ms 0/20555 (0%)[ 3] 0.0-10.0 sec 1 datagrams received out-of-order
B43 Open Source Driver

TCP
------------------------------------------------------------
TCP window size: 85.3 KByte (default)
------------------------------------------------------------
[ 4] local 192.168.178.24 port 5001 connected with 192.168.178.34 port 42345
[ 4] 0.0-10.1 sec 19.6 MBytes 16.4 Mbits/sec
[ 5] local 192.168.178.24 port 5001 connected with 192.168.178.34 port 42346
[ 5] 0.0-10.2 sec 23.1 MBytes 19.0 Mbits/sec
[ 4] local 192.168.178.24 port 5001 connected with 192.168.178.34 port 42347
[ 4] 0.0-10.2 sec 21.7 MBytes 17.8 Mbits/sec

UDP

------------------------------------------------------------
Receiving 1470 byte datagrams
UDP buffer size: 375 KByte (default)
------------------------------------------------------------

[ 3] local 192.168.178.24 port 5001 connected with 192.168.178.34 port 57459
[ 3] 0.0-10.1 sec 14.0 MBytes 11.7 Mbits/sec 0.438 ms 152/10171 (1.5%)
[ 3] 0.0-10.1 sec 1 datagrams received out-of-order
[ 4] local 192.168.178.24 port 5001 connected with 192.168.178.34 port 55062
[ 4] 0.0-10.0 sec 15.7 MBytes 13.1 Mbits/sec 1.372 ms 205/11373 (1.8%)
[ 4] 0.0-10.0 sec 1 datagrams received out-of-order
[ 3] local 192.168.178.24 port 5001 connected with 192.168.178.34 port 49861
[ 3] 0.0-10.1 sec 23.4 MBytes 19.5 Mbits/sec 3.724 ms 292/17017 (1.7%)
[ 3] 0.0-10.1 sec 1 datagrams received out-of-order
[ 4] local 192.168.178.24 port 5001 connected with 192.168.178.34 port 42069
[ 4] 0.0-10.0 sec 21.5 MBytes 18.0 Mbits/sec 1.370 ms 239/15544 (1.5%)
[ 4] 0.0-10.0 sec 1 datagrams received out-of-order

As you can see, the proprietary driver is slightly faster in TCP mode. And somehow they're both really slow in UDP mode. That's something I'd like to find out more about.

Update: That was my fault. For some reason iperf restricts UDP tests to 1 Mbit/s. Now the results are more appropriate. The result is that the proprietary driver has a more stable connection speed.

But I think that's really not worth installing a proprietary driver. Broadcom really would better integrate the changes into the open source driver. Their driver is still relying on the deprecated wireless system anyway.

Update2: Further tests showed that, at least after a while of usage, the proprietary driver creates high network latencies. Ping times to the router went up from 2 ms to an average of 160ms (peaks of 500ms !).

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