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Re: Network card recommendation

On Tue, 16 Aug 2005, Daniel L. Miller wrote:
> Thanx - that's a reasonable answer.  At the moment then, it sounds like 
> the 3Com 3c905 or Intel Pro/100 series should be my preferred sources 
> for 10/100 cards - with SMC as a third place contender.

3COM 3C905C or newer.  The 3C905B are so-so.  Anything earlier than that is
NOT a good idea.

> I guess the performance question comes down to which driver(s) most acts 
> as an "interface" between the system and the NIC (good), and which 
> driver(s) actually process data (bad).  If we can get that clearly 
> answered, then we can identify which chipsets go with which driver, and 
> which cards use which chipset.

You want in the hardware:

1. Interrupt moderation on the NIC
2. *BIG* Scatter-gatter DMA ring support by the NIC
3. Hardware checksum offload by the hardware
4. VLAN Tagging well supported in hardware (if one uses VLANs)
5. Jumbo frames support on gigabit nics
6. Enough bus bw.  For gigabit, PCI-X or PCIe is probably a good
   idea, unless you only have one NIC per directly-connected PCI

and on the software side:

1. Well supported
2. In-tree drivers already converted to the new networking API
3. Linux kernel or newer ;-)

New Intel 100mbit cards and 3COM 3C905CX are the ones to choose in the
Fast-Ethernet land, AFAIK.

Intel gigabit cards seem to have the best in-kernel driver right now, and
they are really, really good gigabit cards, so they're my primary choice.
Anything using the SK98xx chipset (e.g. 3COM 3C2000T gigabit cards, but
there are other reputable manufacturers using this chipset) also seem to
work very well, but I have limited experience with them.

If one needs crypto offload engines in the NIC, then things change.  But I
don't know much about these, so I have no advice to give.

Stay well away from crap using Realtek chipsets.  Even if the chipset were
worth something, the chances of finding a NIC from a reputable manufacturer
that will properly implement a NIC around that chipset are almost none.

  "One disk to rule them all, One disk to find them. One disk to bring
  them all and in the darkness grind them. In the Land of Redmond
  where the shadows lie." -- The Silicon Valley Tarot
  Henrique Holschuh

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