Hardware recommendations

  • I have a pfSense 1.2.3 setup running on the following hardware:

    Gigabyte GA-MA74GM-S2 Motherboard
    2GB RAM
    AMD Athlon 62 X2 5050e CPU
    2x Rosewill RC-400 10/100/1000 NIC's
    2x Resewill RC-401-EX 10/100/1000 NIC's

    This box was originally built for Untangle, but switched to pfSense after Untangle just didn't want to play well with our trixbox setup.

    We are getting alot of "msk0: Watchdog Timeout" messages.  I have disabled the ACPI, and that didn't fix it.  From what I have read, it seems to be hardware related since disabling ACPI did not correct the issue.

    For the record, I have read the requirements, and FreeBSD HCL.  What I am looking for is a recommendation for the motherboard, etc. as far as Vendors that tend to work well with pfSense.  At a minimum, I would be looking to replace the NIC's in the current box.  For the NIC, I have seen alot of people recommend Intel Server class cards.  I was therefore looking at this one:

    Intel EXPI9404PT

    Any words of wisdom?

  • :o Somebody did research, read the documentation and used the search?  ;D

    If you're after FreeBSD compatible hardware then the FreeBSD lists and forums are worth looking at.  There you'll find a wider range of experiences with hardware.  Generally if you look to hardware that's before the current generation, or very common, you'll be more likely to have success than if it's bleeding edge.  If what you've got is working, other than the network cards, then you should be fine once you switch out the NIC.

  • This issue comes up a lot on Realtek RTL8110-based NICs (re driver) like your RC-400s (search the forums for 'watchdog' and you'll find lots of threads). As far as I know nobody's found a solution yet, but this is probably a hardware bug that needs a driver workaround and will be fixed eventually. These NICs are among the worst available though, and I'd strongly urge you to upgrade at the very least the two re-based NICs you're using to pretty much anything else. The Marvell Yukon in the RC-401-EX seems to be relatively reliable.

    That Intel card is an excellent choice and will give you no trouble at all, but if your traffic needs are light you could just as easily get away with replacing those two Realteks with 2 single port Intel 1000/GT Desktop adapters. They work just as well as the server variants as long as you don't need lots of ports. Some claim they perform better, but IMO this probably isn't true in pfSense since under FreeBSD all current Intel GigE cards support the same hardware offload options.

  • @ktims:

    The Marvell Yukon in the RC-401-EX seems to be relatively reliable.

    Isn't it the Marvell driver reporting the problem:

    We are getting alot of "msk0: Watchdog Timeout" messages.

    Are you (ktims) proposing some sort of interaction such that the realtek hardware somehow impacts the Marvell NICs? If so, what do you have in mind?

  • Maybe you're right ;)

    I hadn't heard of a lot of problems with the Marvell NICs and I've used them myself without issue, so I assumed the problem was the Realteks

    Maybe OP does need to replace them all.

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