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Re: [vox-tech] What's the real deal with network cards
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Re: [vox-tech] What's the real deal with network cards



> > Is there noticeable difference between the chips/drivers, in speed,
> > compatibility, dependability?
> 
> Linksys is a PITA because they change the chipset at the drop of a model
> revision, requiring you to be extremely careful which version you
> buy.  Once you get them working, they seem to be as good as any.

This seems to be fairly common among all brands, 3com has a shocking
number of part numbers for ethernet cards, aren't clearly labeled,
and often differ by a single letter in a 16 digit model number.  Often
the packaging isn't changed.  Seems like the latest 3com stuff brakes
every 3 months ago.  Case and point is the newest mini-pci cards, I
think despite them being popular for the last 3 months it's already changed
once.  They change so often that the linux kernel never recognizes 
them I.e.:
    Ethernet controller: 3Com Unknown device (rev 120).
      Vendor id=10b7. Device id=9200.
      Medium devsel.  IRQ 3.  Master Capable.  Latency=64.  Min Gnt=10.Max Lat=10.
      I/O at 0xec00 [0xec01].

As opposed to intel:
    Ethernet controller: Intel 82557 (rev 5).    or 
        Ethernet controller: Intel 82557 (rev 1).
    Ethernet controller: Intel Corporation 82557 [Ethernet Pro 100] (rev 8).

Or tulip:
    Ethernet controller: LiteOn LNE100TX (rev 32).

Or older tulip:
    Ethernet controller: DEC DC21140 (rev 34).

SMC:
    Ethernet controller: SMC 1211 TX (rev 16).

Tulip does similar, not as often, they changed from Digital to lite-on
(similar interface) without any notification.  For awhile I was looking
for all the netgears with the plastic window hoarding the shelves for
D I G I T A L logo'd cards.  I think I've been buying the orange boxed
netgears for a year or two with no problems.

The mentality these days seems to be if it has a working windows driver
great.  This is also trying to avoid commoditization/$1.00 on the
motherboard by adding the latest management features, wake-on-lan, SNMP,
etc.

> Tulip chipsets are a bit too flexible for their own good... you may have
> to go to extra effort to get recent versions of the driver(s) to make a
> tulip card work.  Not such a problem for workstations, but if you are

I've seen none of this since the Lite-on conversion ummm 12 months
ago?

> setting up an LRP box it can take some legwork to get all the pieces in
> place.  From a hardware standpoint they are supposed to be better
> (simpler, less cpu overhead) than rtl8139 or ne2k-pci.

Interesting, did you have to download a new tulip.c and compile a kernel/
module?  Or did the kernel just a make menuconfig?  I'd be kinda surprised
if any semi-new distribution/kernel (i.e. > 2.2.14) needed anything. 

> 3com cards are reputed to be very good, but I haven't found any reason to
> pay the premium for them. I don't manage a large network, though, and
> those are the people who swear by them.

Yeah the price premium seems kinda crazy, not like the large customers
pay for them, typically they buy network enabled pc's in the first
place, i.e. Dell Optiplex, compaq, hp "business" machines.

> I have been satisfied with the rtl8139 and NE2000 cards I have used, even
> though they aren't great performers. 

Did you quantify it?  I'm curious as to the diff, every time I have
it comes out pretty much exactly what I could expect once I took
into account packet header overhead and similar.

> Unless you intend to push the
> limits or performance or use older computers, I have never had trouble 
> with network cards the way I have with some sound cards.

Even a pentium-60 + ne2k should be able to saturate ethernet pretty
easily.

I've little experience with the rt* cards, but I remember a server
coming with it on the motherboard which surprised me.


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