Performance difference between ISA NICs?

Discussion about old PC hardware.

Re: Performance difference between ISA NICs?

Postby gdjacobs » 2019-6-25 @ 20:57

Intel486dx33 wrote:3com never had very good switches.


What are you smoking? Their enterprise switches were exemplary. Probably the reason HP bought them.
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Re: Performance difference between ISA NICs?

Postby mrau » 2019-6-25 @ 22:13

BloodyCactus wrote:why do you care so much about performance on an 8mhz ISA bus? Most cards back then were 10mbps, my PCI 3C905C cant even saturate 100mbps doing ftp.


that would be an itch for me :>
isnt that weird? in what environment cant you saturate that?
unless a slow disk is blocking that you should be able to saturate easily
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Re: Performance difference between ISA NICs?

Postby BloodyCactus » 2019-6-25 @ 23:17

mrau wrote:
BloodyCactus wrote:why do you care so much about performance on an 8mhz ISA bus? Most cards back then were 10mbps, my PCI 3C905C cant even saturate 100mbps doing ftp.


that would be an itch for me :>
isnt that weird? in what environment cant you saturate that?
unless a slow disk is blocking that you should be able to saturate easily


I have to run it half-duplex because it will often blow up mTCP's ftp.exe or the 3com packet driver. sometimes its ok, sometimes its not. but at half duplex speed I have no issues.
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Re: Performance difference between ISA NICs?

Postby Caluser2000 » 2019-6-25 @ 23:30

Jo22 wrote:
Intel486dx33 wrote:TCP/IP did not become main stream fo the masses until Win95.

If you can get networking ups and working on an old DOS computer you should be happy with that.
As long as you can achieve 10-base-T


I share that point of view. TCP/IP was pretty much irrelevant until the mid-late 90s or so.
Online services such as CompuServe or Datex-P relied on X.25 protocol.

For home use or little offices, cheap serial/parallel connections were also common since mid-late 80s.
- While slow, they were still better than sneaker net and supported printer sharing (which was the most important).
That being said, I believe very few people likely will admit that these days. Either because they forgot or because they are ashamed. ;)

For gaming. IPX made it into the early days of Win95, even.
Many games written for DOS and Win 3.1 did support IPX, null-modem or modem connections.
Windows for Workgrousp still used NetBIOS/Lan Manager/SMB, but also was open to other networks (could be added).
https://blog.fosketts.net/2012/03/22/la ... s-history/

Of course, looking backwards, the Unix/BSD/Linux fanatics were (and are) dependent on their holy TCP/IP stuff so they may disagree. ;)
They simply had nothing better to use, afaik. Their IPX support was very crude and user-friendly things like AppleTalk
were either against their religion (chooser, self-configuring network etc) or not available free of charge due to licensing issues.


Acorn had it's own protocols and hardware. On x86 systems just using NetBui (an IBM/MicroSoft thing) can be quite handy if you have a small network and don't need to access the interweb. Setting up shares is a breeze. The protocol can be used right up to XP if you just want to share files locally. No need for fiddling with network addresses and subnets etc. TCP/IP was developed in the 70s basicly going back quite early in *.nixs development. Variants generally supported other protocols as well as tcp/ip such as IPX , X.25 and more to integrate into existing networks so quite flexible. Of course for the average joe they doesn't even know *.nix exists even though it runs a lot of the internet.

These days with mTCP and such do make it easy to transfer files or communicate using irc, ftp or telnet literally anywhere in the world on that old XT class system which is quite neat.
Last edited by Caluser2000 on 2019-6-25 @ 23:33, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Performance difference between ISA NICs?

Postby mrau » 2019-6-25 @ 23:32

is this a bug? or dos' innate inability to do more than 1 thing at a time?
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Re: Performance difference between ISA NICs?

Postby mbbrutman » 2019-6-26 @ 02:00

If mTCP is "crashing" or "blowing up" I'd like to see a bug report. I don't have any such bug reports.

I can believe that setting half duplex might change the flow control and make things work more reliably. Newer Windows computers are especially bad with respecting small TCP window sizes and the poor flow control that causes results in packet loss and retransmits. But to use the words "crash" or "blowing up" implies a bug which nobody else is reporting.
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Re: Performance difference between ISA NICs?

Postby retardware » 2019-6-26 @ 02:19

BloodyCactus wrote:why do you care so much about performance on an 8mhz ISA bus? Most cards back then were 10mbps, my PCI 3C905C cant even saturate 100mbps doing ftp.

most of the 3com isa cards had SRAM for helping with packet tx/rx. I dont know of any NE2000 that had that.
I think it was not until the 905B or C that that the chip did packet checksumming/offloading. I dont think the 509B offloaded anything.
[...]
if your host machine is slow, the 509 can drop packets a lot because its ram buffer is small. 509b doubled its sram size.

also, it does PIO transfer. (all ne2k also were PIO). some cards did shared memory and could be faster that PIO.


The memory windows that these 3COM and SMC network cards use need to be known, and be excluded from EMM386, else they can be mistaken as RAM. MSD and Manifest can help a lot if one doesn't have the cards' and driver documentation (to set the location of the window).
So I guess the OP will prefer a NE2000 clone (respective Realtek card), as it does not need any UMB memory to be excluded, even at the cost of low networking performance.
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Re: Performance difference between ISA NICs?

Postby BloodyCactus » 2019-6-26 @ 02:41

mbbrutman wrote:If mTCP is "crashing" or "blowing up" I'd like to see a bug report. I don't have any such bug reports.

I can believe that setting half duplex might change the flow control and make things work more reliably. Newer Windows computers are especially bad with respecting small TCP window sizes and the poor flow control that causes results in packet loss and retransmits. But to use the words "crash" or "blowing up" implies a bug which nobody else is reporting.


well I'm running vsftpd server on linux through managed swtiches and vlans, and I dont run windows at all. I think I tried to get a debug log once but it got too big, it only happens on large transfers (ie: when I do a new build of openwatcom2 and ftp over to my dos box or something). I gave up trying to get a debug log. half duplex fixed my issue.
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Re: Performance difference between ISA NICs?

Postby BloodyCactus » 2019-6-26 @ 02:48

retardware wrote:The memory windows that these 3COM and SMC network cards use need to be known, and be excluded from EMM386, else they can be mistaken as RAM. MSD and Manifest can help a lot if one doesn't have the cards' and driver documentation (to set the location of the window).


The older 3c503 has a jumper for ram address selection, its shared ram. (SMC does this too)

The 3c509's dont, and the RAM is not visible since its PIO, not shared memory, NE2k is PIO. No switches neede in emm386 for this cards.
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Re: Performance difference between ISA NICs?

Postby GigAHerZ » 2019-6-26 @ 07:46

Yep, i have not lost any UMB memory because of my 3c509b cards, except for the packet driver itself.

I'm also interested in cpu utilization overhead of different cards. (3com, ne2000 compatibles, some others?)
When i get some time, i will make a list of my ISA NICs, that i currently have. (Maybe around 20 cards)

As i said, it's a little bit of a quirk of mine to make the most out of old PCs, namely 386, 486 and Pentium MMX. In terms of this thread, 386 is what i look at the most.
"640K ought to be enough for anybody." - And i intend to get every last bit out of it even after loading every damn driver!
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Re: Performance difference between ISA NICs?

Postby eisapc » 2019-6-27 @ 07:22

I can confirm heavy system load of some cheapo realtek cards on Win 9x, while 3C509, SMC and other brands performed much better.
3C509 using DMA is new to me, the only ethernet using DMA and ISA busmastering is the NE1500/NE2100 also known as AMD LANCE.
But beware, dont try to mix it with other ISA busmasters like Adaptec154x, this will result in serious problems. ISA is not capable of multiple busmaster boards.
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Re: Performance difference between ISA NICs?

Postby oeuvre » 2019-6-27 @ 13:07

still waiting for 10G ISA ethernet cards
HP Z420 Workstation Intel Xeon E5-1620, 32GB, AMD FirePro V7900 2GB, SSD + HD, XP/7
Main Desktop Intel i7 6700, 32GB, AMD RX580 8GB, NVMe SSD + HD, 10
Image
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Re: Performance difference between ISA NICs?

Postby gdjacobs » 2019-6-27 @ 13:20

I want an ISA Infiniband card.
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Re: Performance difference between ISA NICs?

Postby Intel486dx33 » 2019-6-27 @ 14:20

GigAHerZ wrote:
Intel486dx33 wrote:Many variables to consider.
...
If you can get networking ups and working on an old DOS computer you should be happy with that.


No and no.

I am interested in same situation, same machine and now i have 10 different NICs. Which one should i choose?

And no, i'm not happy if something works somehow. I want everything to work perfectly and the best optimized way.


On software side, i can setup dos and windows 3.x to use samba shares and tcp/ip while sleeping myself. It's no question in this topic...
So unless you say that all NICs are absolutely identical (and only variables are outside of the NICs), this answer was off topic.


Your right, i apologize. I did not mean to accept bad performance only that the default recommenced settings usually work adequate.
If you want to get the absolute best performance you will have to consider CPU brand and speed and timings and bios settings. Ram amount and speed. Cache amount and speed.

Keep us informed on what DOS settings you chose as it is a very popular card.
I am going to set mine up today in DOS 6.22 and I will post speed and data transfer rates
On an Intel 486dx4-100 computer.

I would write a spreadsheet with all your settings so you don’t get any conflicts and have a written document
Of all your settings ( IRQ, DMA, Memory, etc )

Look here for settings.
https://www.vogonswiki.com/index.php/3Com_3c509
Last edited by Intel486dx33 on 2019-6-27 @ 18:11, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Performance difference between ISA NICs?

Postby GigAHerZ » 2019-6-27 @ 16:36

@Intel486dx33, i want absolute best NIC in any kind of environment. That may mean that in one class system one card is best, in other class system the other card is the best.
But i want to do that decision consciously. I want to know, what card and why i put into my 386dx40, into my 486dx120 and into my pentium mmx 200.

And i want to only compare one NIC to another one and know both the performance of throughput as well as cpu utilization during that. We can also throw memory usage of drivers into the mix.

This way, when i make a decision, i know why i did that.
Right now, i've been just using 3c509b everywhere. It just works, i don't have measurable arguments for those and... it's boring. :P
"640K ought to be enough for anybody." - And i intend to get every last bit out of it even after loading every damn driver!
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Re: Performance difference between ISA NICs?

Postby Intel486dx33 » 2019-6-27 @ 17:50

dionb wrote:
Gahhhrrrlic wrote:[...]

Really? I have an Etherlink III too off the same chipset (I think, have to check) and I still can't get it to assign an IP or get it to NOT crash my computer on WFW 3.11. I think it's a resource management problem because the jumpers only allow 2 possible IRQs/Ports and then there's some software util you have to use for the "soft" resource option. How were you able to get yours stable and working?

Sounds like you have it set to PnP and your motherboard is (as usual) making a mess of ISA PnP. I always set the card manually using 3C50XCFG.EXE, usually to 0x300 and IRQ 10 or 11.

Then again, jumpers? Maybe it's a different card. I'm talking about the ubiquitous 3C509B and C in all their variations (TPO, TP, Combo etc).


Where can I download this file "3C50XCFG.EXE" ?
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Re: Performance difference between ISA NICs?

Postby GigAHerZ » 2019-6-27 @ 18:21

Intel486dx33 wrote:
dionb wrote:
Gahhhrrrlic wrote:[...]

Really? I have an Etherlink III too off the same chipset (I think, have to check) and I still can't get it to assign an IP or get it to NOT crash my computer on WFW 3.11. I think it's a resource management problem because the jumpers only allow 2 possible IRQs/Ports and then there's some software util you have to use for the "soft" resource option. How were you able to get yours stable and working?

Sounds like you have it set to PnP and your motherboard is (as usual) making a mess of ISA PnP. I always set the card manually using 3C50XCFG.EXE, usually to 0x300 and IRQ 10 or 11.

Then again, jumpers? Maybe it's a different card. I'm talking about the ubiquitous 3C509B and C in all their variations (TPO, TP, Combo etc).


Where can I download this file "3C50XCFG.EXE" ?


Search for the driver diskette of the 3c509b or etherlink III. It includes that utility.
"640K ought to be enough for anybody." - And i intend to get every last bit out of it even after loading every damn driver!
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Re: Performance difference between ISA NICs?

Postby Intel486dx33 » 2019-6-27 @ 19:35

I found this but it's not working.
V6.0 Etherdisk and User Guide for the 3C509 and
3C509B Etherlink III NIC

The 3c5x9CFG.exe setup program detects my 3c509b-tx fine and passes all tests.

I just want to use the packet driver "3C5X9PD.com"
I am using this autoexec.bat config
SET C:\3C5X9PD -w 0x60 IOBASE=0x300

What am I missing ?
I am using mTCP network package.

When I try to ping something I get an error message “could not setup packet driver".




3Com (R) Corporation
EtherDisk (R) Diskette for
The EtherLink III NIC Family
Clarkson Packet Driver



The EtherLink III family of NICs are all software configured.
When the packet driver is loaded the only required command line
parameter is the software interrupt value `PKT_INT_NUM.' This
software interrupt is used for communication between the driver and
the protocol and should not be confused with the NIC's hardware
interrupt. As of version 1.09 of the Packet Driver Specification
valid software interrupt values are in the range 0x60 to 0x80.

The SLOT and IOBASE parameters are to be used only when there is
more than one EtherLink III board in the machine. This parameter
indicates to the packet driver which NIC to use. For NICs in ISA mode,
use the IOBASE parameter. On Microchannel NICs, EISA NICs, or ISA NICs
in EISA mode, use the SLOT parameter.
You cannot use both IOBASE and SLOT on the same command line.

EXAMPLE: You have two EtherLink III ISA NICs in your machine.
One is installed at I/O Base 300 hex and the other at 320 hex. To
use the card located at 300 hex and load it at software interrupt
60 hex for use in a Windows environment, use the command line:

3C5X9PD -w 0x60 IOBASE=0x300

For a complete usage summary, enter 3C5X9PD at the DOS command prompt.


3Com technical support for packet drivers can be contacted at:

Pkt_Support@3mail.3Com.com



(%VER PACKET.TXT - Packet Driver v6.0a)

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Re: Performance difference between ISA NICs?

Postby Caluser2000 » 2019-6-27 @ 20:47

You should get a massage on boot up that the packet driver is loaded. Your boot up photo doesn't show that. Remove SET C:\ from the line if your packet driver is in the root directory..
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Re: Performance difference between ISA NICs?

Postby mbbrutman » 2019-6-27 @ 22:22

What you did there was set an environment variable. What you need to do is run a program (the packet driver) to get it to load and stay resident in memory.

See the mTCP documentation at https://www.brutman.com/mTCP/mTCP.html . Specifically, read the PDF file that is linked from the Downloads section. The second half of https://www.brutman.com/Dos_Networking/ ... rking.html will also be helpful to you.
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