NIC manufacturer detection fail or fob-off?



  • Hi,

    This might be a stupid question (I think it is), but does pfSense ever drastically mis-detect NICs? I know, I had to ask…
    The reason I ask is that I've just bought a passively-cooled unit, which was marketed as having (here it comes) 4 Intel Gigabit NICs. However, upon installing pfSense, the MAC addresses and descriptions all point to Realtek (I checked the OUIs). So... the seller said that they use an Intel I211-AT controller but use different manufacturer RJ45 ports, including Realtek. This sounds like total BS to me as:-

    A) Why bother? The hardware is possibly incompatible & surely the motherboard would be supplied with networking controller & ports parts from a like manufacturer/it's not cost-effective to do otherwise.
    B) I can't find anything about this online (always a worry).

    Any ideas/has anyone ever heard this before? I'm hoping that the vendor is not trying to pull the wool over my eyes... this is where I regret not buying genuine Netgate products or building it myself.
    Grateful in advance for any help. Cheers.


  • Banned

    @a_p_h_e_x:

    So… the seller said that they use an Intel I211-AT controller but use different manufacturer RJ45 ports, including Realtek. This sounds like total BS to me as:-

    I would agree, return it and never buy from that seller again.



  • intel ports detected as realtek?

    Sorry doesnt happen, those are realtek nic ports, return it.

    Product is "not as described".



  • Thanks for the replies. Just to add to the confusion, dmesg | grep Intel shows the following:

    igb0: <intel(r) 1000="" pro="" network="" connection,="" version="" -="" 2.5.3-k="">port 0xd000-0xd01f mem 0x90900000-0x9091ffff,0x90920000-0x90923fff irq 16 at device 0.0 on pci1
    igb1: <intel(r) 1000="" pro="" network="" connection,="" version="" -="" 2.5.3-k="">port 0xc000-0xc01f mem 0x90800000-0x9081ffff,0x90820000-0x90823fff irq 17 at device 0.0 on pci2
    igb2: <intel(r) 1000="" pro="" network="" connection,="" version="" -="" 2.5.3-k="">port 0xb000-0xb01f mem 0x90700000-0x9071ffff,0x90720000-0x90723fff irq 18 at device 0.0 on pci3
    igb3: <intel(r) 1000="" pro="" network="" connection,="" version="" -="" 2.5.3-k="">port 0xa000-0xa01f mem 0x90600000-0x9061ffff,0x90620000-0x90623fff irq 19 at device 0.0 on pci4

    and yet dmesg | grep Ethernet shows Realtek OUIs (00:E0:4C) as follows (obviously I added the "xx"  ;)):

    igb0: Ethernet address: 00:e0:4c:xx:xx:xx
    igb1: Ethernet address: 00:e0:4c:xx:xx:xx
    igb2: Ethernet address: 00:e0:4c:xx:xx:xx
    igb3: Ethernet address: 00:e0:4c:xx:xx:xx

    Er… any ideas? It's weird.</intel(r)></intel(r)></intel(r)></intel(r)>



  • I'd guess the controller is a sloppy knock-off of an Intel. I remember when people were getting counterfeit Intel nics from ebay sellers.



  • @dotdash:

    I'd guess the controller is a sloppy knock-off of an Intel. I remember when people were getting counterfeit Intel nics from ebay sellers.

    Thanks. So, just to be sure, what exactly does that mean? It's really a set of Realtek NICs but with an Intel network controller, which is the same thing AFAIK. It probably doesn't matter massively (other than I was misled into thinking these were purely Intel devices…), but if I do stick with this device, are modern Realtek NICs better than their reputation in the 90s?
    I need something that will cope with a gigabit LAN, use of Snort and a VPN. Not asking much. Thanks again in advance for any pearls of wisdom.

    pciconf -lv shows what appear to be Intel NICs using the I211 controller:

    igb0@pci0:1:0:0: class=0x020000 card=0x00008086 chip=0x15398086 rev=0x03 hdr=0x00
        vendor    = 'Intel Corporation'
        device    = 'I211 Gigabit Network Connection'
        class      = network
        subclass  = ethernet
    igb1@pci0:2:0:0: class=0x020000 card=0x00008086 chip=0x15398086 rev=0x03 hdr=0x00
        vendor    = 'Intel Corporation'
        device    = 'I211 Gigabit Network Connection'
        class      = network
        subclass  = ethernet
    igb2@pci0:3:0:0: class=0x020000 card=0x00008086 chip=0x15398086 rev=0x03 hdr=0x00
        vendor    = 'Intel Corporation'
        device    = 'I211 Gigabit Network Connection'
        class      = network
        subclass  = ethernet
    igb3@pci0:4:0:0: class=0x020000 card=0x00008086 chip=0x15398086 rev=0x03 hdr=0x00
        vendor    = 'Intel Corporation'
        device    = 'I211 Gigabit Network Connection'
        class      = network
        subclass  = ethernet

    I'm really confused now!



  • I think it's a Chinese copy of an Intel controller, and they were so sloppy they used the wrong macs. I'd return it.



  • Thank you for your help. Much appreciated.



  • For the possible benefit of others, what was the brand of this passively-cooled machine and where did you buy it?



  • @biggsy:

    For the possible benefit of others, what was the brand of this passively-cooled machine and where did you buy it?

    Hi, I don't want to reveal the seller at this stage, as I am in communications with them, but if you look on the website with the smile under its name and look for systems similar to those sold by Protecli in the states, you'll see what I mean.


  • Netgate Administrator

    Wow, that's fun.  ???



  • a_p_h_e_x,  when you've concluded discussions with the supplier, maybe you could let us know the outcome of that as well.

    BTW, did this device come with "pfSense" pre-installed?



  • @biggsy:

    a_p_h_e_x,  when you've concluded discussions with the supplier, maybe you could let us know the outcome of that as well.

    BTW, did this device come with "pfSense" pre-installed?

    Will do. No, it was a bare-bones system & I always install pfSense myself.

    Interestingly, they're saying that the explanation for the apparent contradition in MAC identities is down to:

    1. Manufacturers using the Intel I211-AT ethernet controller on their boards may apparently use different manufacturer RJ45 ports… yet Realtek are not an Intel ODM, AFAIK?
    2. They then say that because of the use of Realtek RJ45 ports (connected to my Intel I211-AT controller), that explains why the MAC addresses come up as being Realtek. That's a new one on me (a MAC IC hidden inside an RJ45 port in addition to undetected Intel MACs on the motherboard? Mmm...). They actually state that the MAC address (Realtek) is of the ethernet port NOT the ethernet controller. Interesting theory. So there are then four hidden Intel MACs too? Lol.

    I think it's time to check with Intel...



  • How does this differ from any integrator using their own OUI in place of that of the chip vendor?  I have a number of HP machines and their Broadcom NICs all start with an HP OUI.  There must be a mechanism for writing the OUI to the chips, and here it seems likely that a design change wasn't propagated correctly.  My guess would be that the board was originally designed to use Realtek chips.



  • Really? That's very interesting. I guess if the MAC chip is an E/EPROM, then that's how you permanently spoof the vendor OUI?
    My point is the product appears to be not as described i.e. where are the genuine Intel NICs? I may even have to settle with this, but want evidence to back my argument, not with the view to any legal action, but rather for the vendor concerned to "do the right thing" and adjust their ambiguous marketing accordingly, so others are not caught out. If they don't, that's not good business (assuming they care).


  • Banned

    The RJ45 ports are simple mechanical connectors, they do not contain a MAC. The controller chip is the important part. A genuine Intel controller would not report a Realtek MAC. Yes the manufacturer can change the reportet MAC in the controllers flash. But why would they in this case, especially from Intel to Realtek.

    The point is: This hardware, and the vendor it is bought from, doesn't seem to be reliable or trustworthy.


  • Netgate Administrator

    Yeah, they will have re-written the MACs in manufacturing but why choose Realtek OUIs?  ???

    You haven't said what processor that device has but it's probably a SoC type where the Ethernet controllers are actually on-board anyway. Some of those require external PHYs which might be Realtek I guess but you wouldn't normally change the MAC to that. Use your own OUI or leave the Intel MAC….

    Weird.

    Steve



  • @Grimson, @ stephenw10 Exactly! It is indeed a SoC mini-PC setup, using an Atom E3845 Quad core CPU & 4 NICs by Intel or Realtek  :D
    See attached the photo they send me of a like board; they even printed the Realtek MACs on the RJ45 ports & pointed out the Intel controller…

    ![LAN MAC Details.jpg](/public/imported_attachments/1/LAN MAC Details.jpg)
    ![LAN MAC Details.jpg_thumb](/public/imported_attachments/1/LAN MAC Details.jpg_thumb)


  • Netgate Administrator

    Ah, that's not an SoC in the same way as, say, the C2538 is. That has 4 integrated NICs, the E3845 does not. As a result it has those "i211"s on the board separately. Easier to fake?  ;)

    That's the same as the MInnowboard Turbot boards but they present an ADI OUI as the board manufacturer.

    Regardless of whether they are knock off chips why would you deliberately choose Realtek OUIs? Crazy…

    The MAC address labels are usually put on the ports to both indicate which port has that MAC and as one of the few flat places to put a label. The RJ-45 port has absolutely nothing to do with the presented MAC address though and the fact they are claiming it should tell you all you need to know.

    Steve


  • LAYER 8 Netgate

    They then say that because of the use of Realtek RJ45 ports (connected to my Intel I211-AT controller), that explains why the MAC addresses come up as being Realtek.

    Wow. That's good for a chuckle. Biggest load of crap I've read all day and I've been on twitter.

    Far too many red flags, friend.


  • Banned

    Even the "magnification" of the chip in the above postet image is from a different device, look at the components surrounding it.


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