Gigabit Ethernet: On-Board Chips Reviewed

Reference: 3COM 996B-T With PCI-X

The 3COM-made 3C996B-T is based on the Broadcom component BCM5701, which is also well suited for server systems thanks to TCP packaging. Also, the PCI-X interface generally avoids bottlenecks.

As a reference system, we used an Asus-made workstation board. The PP-DLW is based on Intel's E7505 chip set and offers several PCI-X slots, which really provides plenty of bandwidth for one network card.

With 133 MHz of clock rate, we powered one single 3CM 996B-T, which employs the Broadcom BCM5701, and is the older brother, so to speak, of the BCM5705, which was also tested.

The Upgrade Model: Intel 82541GI

In order to also incorporate in this test the upgrade of a Gigabit network card on existing systems, we bought a simple network card: the Intel Pro/1000 Desktop Adapter. It primarily differs from the 547EI in its interface: it is not operated via the CSA in this case, but over the PCI, instead.

What's interesting here is that the card - compared with the on-board solutions - does not only perform well, but was, in fact, the second-fastest model in the test, apart from the 82547EI. Intel completed its homework, and also got the job done well: At $50, the PCI card comes at a very reasonable price.