9. Performance

The top question about the performance of CORE is often how many nodes can it handle? The answer depends on several factors:

  • Hardware - the number and speed of processors in the computer, the available processor cache, RAM memory, and front-side bus speed may greatly affect overall performance.
  • Operating system version - Linux or FreeBSD, and the specific kernel versions used will affect overall performance.
  • Active processes - all nodes share the same CPU resources, so if one or more nodes is performing a CPU-intensive task, overall performance will suffer.
  • Network traffic - the more packets that are sent around the virtual network increases the amount of CPU usage.
  • GUI usage - widgets that run periodically, mobility scenarios, and other GUI interactions generally consume CPU cycles that may be needed for emulation.

On a typical single-CPU Xeon 3.0GHz server machine with 2GB RAM running FreeBSD 9.0, we have found it reasonable to run 30-75 nodes running OSPFv2 and OSPFv3 routing. On this hardware CORE can instantiate 100 or more nodes, but at that point it becomes critical as to what each of the nodes is doing.

Because this software is primarily a network emulator, the more appropriate question is how much network traffic can it handle? On the same 3.0GHz server described above, running FreeBSD 4.11, about 300,000 packets-per-second can be pushed through the system. The number of hops and the size of the packets is less important. The limiting factor is the number of times that the operating system needs to handle a packet. The 300,000 pps figure represents the number of times the system as a whole needed to deal with a packet. As more network hops are added, this increases the number of context switches and decreases the throughput seen on the full length of the network path.


The right question to be asking is “how much traffic?”, not “how many nodes?”.

For a more detailed study of performance in CORE, refer to the following publications:

  • J. Ahrenholz, T. Goff, and B. Adamson, Integration of the CORE and EMANE Network Emulators, Proceedings of the IEEE Military Communications Conference 2011, November 2011.
  • Ahrenholz, J., Comparison of CORE Network Emulation Platforms, Proceedings of the IEEE Military Communications Conference 2010, pp. 864-869, November 2010.
  • J. Ahrenholz, C. Danilov, T. Henderson, and J.H. Kim, CORE: A real-time network emulator, Proceedings of IEEE MILCOM Conference, 2008.

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