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All-In-One Gateways

The Young Guard

AIO appliances come in a board, chip or module form factor and use a variety of processors. Although Intel's licensed ARM technology is the most prevalent processor in AIOs, the vendor's newer Xscale processor is making headway (CyberGuard's products use it), as is Toshiba's TX3927 (which SonicWall uses in its appliance). Other processors are Motorola's ColdFire (found in CyberGuard's appliances) and Philips' TriMedia (in 2Wire's product line). Neither of these processors is an industry standard, however.

Nor is there a dominant code set on these devices. Most AIOs use Web browsers for administration, and few provide command-line access. In fact, many AIOs use firmware in ROM on a board, except for the ones with advanced services that include embedded operating systems such as Wind River's VXWorks and Linux (uCLinux).

But if all you want is the basics, don't fret over these technical specifications. Just make sure the AIO is compatible with your ISP's premise equipment, which could require DHCP, PPPoE or serial connections, depending on your connection and your ISP. Then check out the device's available physical ports and its feature sets (see chart at left).

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