System administrators often assume that just by plugging in a Gigabit Ethernet Interface, the system will deliver line rate performance; sadly this is not often the case. The behaviour of various 1 and 10 Gigabit Ethernet Network Interface cards (NICs) has been investigated using server quality motherboards. The latency, throughput, and the activity on the PCI buses and Gigabit Ethernet links were chosen as performance indicators. The tests were performed using two PCs connected back-to-back and sending UDP/IP frames from one to the other. This paper shows the importance of having a good combination of memory and peripheral bus chipset, Ethernet Interface, CPU power, good driver, and operating system designs and proper configuration to achieve and sustain gigabit transfer rates. With these considerations taken into account, and suitably designed hardware, transfers can operate at gigabit and multi-gigabit speeds. Some recommendations are given for high performance data servers. © 2004 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
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