Good NICs for retro rigs?

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Re: Good NICs for retro rigs?

Postby feipoa » 2012-7-13 @ 01:22

Thank you for sharing this program. It works on Windows NT 4.0 and a 486. The results obtained with this program are similar to what I concluded from my stop watch tests. I have a 3Com 3c90C-TX-M, 10/100Base-TX.

From 486-to-P3
Writing: 21.8 mbps, or 2.73 MB/s [CPU bounced between 50-100%]
Reading: 32.3 mbps, or 4.04 MB/s [CPU solid at 100%]

For comparison, I tested my dual PIII-850 to a 1.6 MHz laptop and get:
Writing: 63.4 mbps, or 7.93 MB/s
Reading: 65.1 mbps, or 8.14 MB/s

Not sure why I didn't get closer to 85 mbps on the faster computers. The CPU was only at 30%. Perhaps related to the DD-WRT I put on my router, or someone leaving Youtube open somewhere, dunno...

I'm pretty pleased with the 486 reading speed though, it is only half the speed of a P3. I'm not sure why the CPU utilisation bounced between 50-100% on the writing, but it is probably some how related to the slower writing speed.

The other open questions is if an Intel NIC will perform any better on a 486.

EDIT: I noticed that Rx and Tx checksum offload are disabled by default on my NIC, however enabling them did not increase throughput at all.
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Re: Good NICs for retro rigs?

Postby swaaye » 2012-8-18 @ 17:46

I discovered something about XP file sharing. It is apparently not capable of saturating a Gigabit link. Two different high end machines I have both get a Max of around 45 megabytes/sec. This is with 3 different NICs, including two PCIe ones. I also tried some tweaks like tcp window size and window scaling (TCP Optimizer) with no improvement. I tried a RAMdisk just in case it was a storage subsystem bottleneck. And I pulled files from a Win7 and a Linux source, both capable of saturating this link.

Windows 7 on the test machine doubles the throughput to around 90 megabytes /sec with a PCIe NIC. Apparently Vista is good too.
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Re: Good NICs for retro rigs?

Postby feipoa » 2012-8-18 @ 19:59

Those are interesting finds. I suppose the next logical step would be to determine if there is some sort of update/fix for gigabit networks on XP.
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Re: Good NICs for retro rigs?

Postby swaaye » 2012-8-18 @ 20:52

I have been reading about XP and gigabit speeds but I have not come across any specific fixes. There is an interesting article about XP Firewall having a problem with large send offload but I'm not sending data so disabling that service is probably no solution..
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Re: Good NICs for retro rigs?

Postby valnar » 2012-8-18 @ 21:16

We have the benefit of hindsight. Back in the midst of the 90's, I'd say you can't go wrong with 3COM. Intel was always a close second.

Now I would say pick Intel every time. I think the marketing machine of 3COM pushed Intel out of the top slot, but my own informal testing shows that those old 82557 Intel NICs were better.
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Re: Good NICs for retro rigs?

Postby feipoa » 2012-11-14 @ 03:58

feipoa wrote:The other open questions is if an Intel NIC will perform any better on a 486.

The performance of an Intel Pro 100S was the same as the 3Com 3c905C-TX-M on a 486 (Cyrix 5x86-133/4x).
Last edited by feipoa on 2012-11-14 @ 11:23, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Good NICs for retro rigs?

Postby SquallStrife » 2012-11-14 @ 04:21

I like 3C509's for an ISA card because there's squillions of them around, and you can use them on 8088/8086's.
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