NIC and CPU Utilization

I am using a generic network card right now that I bought when I was setting up a network at home. I just wanted something that worked and didn't know much about network cards at the time. It uses one of the Realtek chips. So far I have had no problems with the card. However, as I have started doing large file transfers over the network I am starting to notice my computer dramatically slow down during these times, and it gets quite annoying.

Are there any cards out there for a reasonable price, say, less than $50 that do most of the processing themselves? If I could get my CPU utilization down to around 25% during these times I would be making major progress, as it's currently running around 50% when I'm getting 9Mbytes/sec. I would prefer to get it to 5% or less if possible. If it costs more like $100 or $150 I'll probably hold off and see if the problem gets annoying enough to warrant it.

I have read about some cards that people claim to have "low CPU utilization" like some 3Com cards and the Intel 100/Pro, but exactly what is considered "low CPU utilization"? I was also wondering if they have implemented something new on the 10/100/1000 cards, because if the 100Mbit cards are this bad, transfers at gigabit speeds have to be horrid if the card doesn't do the processing. I would be completely willing to buy a gigabit card for around $50 if it doesn't depend on the CPU to process the info, even though I would only be using it on a 100Mbit network.

<P ID="edit"><FONT SIZE=-1><EM>Edited by DonJuan on 08/30/03 06:32 PM.</EM></FONT></P>
4 answers Last reply
More about utilization

    That was a pretty good article. The answer is yes better NICs can offload the host CPU more than less better NICs. My own testing shows this to be true, but I have yet to do any testing w/ Giga. As you mentioned 3Com and Intel are often called best, and oddly enough used by more IS managers.
  2. At 9MB/s your card is going at about full speed (No you will never get 12.5MB/s). You should notice this on a regular PC. 1. The CPU spends ~100MHz for the packets alone as they travel up and down the stack.
    2. Disk writes/reads take a chunk of your HDD capacity + CPU + RAM.

    Yes, you might gain some performance from an Intel or 3com (I'd go with Intel though), but I fear that it will not be as much as you hope. Nevertheless, a decent Intel should not be that expensive and you can always return it if you are not happy with the performance.


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  3. agreed go with the intel

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  4. I have good experience with 3com NIC. My company uses 3com on all computers and never have any problem.
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