Hardware Compatibility

  • good day… just a quick question regarding hardware compatibility...

    I'm planning to run a dual-wan (load balancing) setup using an Intel Atom D945GCLF board w/ 2GB of ram.  Now i'm having problems with getting a dual port PCI NIC.

    what i can only source from where i'm at...

    • IBM NetXtreme 1000T Gigabit Adapter Dual port (Broadcom 5703 chip)
    • HP NC3131 (Intel 82558 chip)

    here's my problem... on http://www.freebsd.org/releases/7.2R/hardware.html the Broadcom 570x series is supported, i think, but it's a PCI-X card and it might have problems running on a PCI slot.  I've read that PCI/PCI-X are usually interchangeable as long as the card supports the correct voltages.  While for the Intel 82558 chipset, i don't see any specifics on whether or not it's supported…

    With that being said, can anyone confirm if...

    1. the netxtreme (broadcom) NIC will work on a PCI slot? or
    2. is the intel 82558 chip supported by pfsense?


  • Saxed directly from wikipedia, and the answer is, it depends.

    PCI-X is generally backward-compatible with most cards based on the PCI 2.x[1] or later standard, meaning that a PCI card can be installed in a PCI-X slot, provided it has the correct voltage keying for the slot and (if inserting into a 32-bit slot) nothing obstructs the overhanging part of the edge connector. Originally the PCI bus was a 5-volt bus. Later, in PCI Revision 2.x, the PCI bus was a dual-voltage interconnect. In 3.0 this was changed to 3.3 volts only. The PCI-X bus is not compatible with the older 5-volt cards but newer 3.3-volt PCI cards will work in a PCI-X slot.[1] Apart from this, PCI and PCI-X cards can generally be intermixed on a PCI-X bus, but the speed will be limited to the speed of the slowest card. For example, a PCI 2.3 device running at 32 bits and 66 MHz on a PCI-X 133-MHz bus will limit the total throughput of the bus to 266 MB/s. To get around this limitation and the voltage compatibility issue, many motherboards have separate PCI-X channels that can be dedicated to different PCI hardware families if needed, allowing for better backward compatibility while maintaining higher total system bandwidth.


  • There is no way you will get sustained Gigabit speeds out of a PCI slot, so, if you are prepared to accept 10/100 NICs, you could use a "standard" PCI card. I've purchased a few dual 10/100 PCI cards on eBay and I've seen 2 and 4 10/100 port cards at http://www.soekris.com (look for lan16x1)

  • @eirikz

    yup… i read that... the cards and slots are interchangeable for the most part.  Though in some cases, the cards will not work due the difference in voltages.  Hence, i asked if the netxtreme pci-x card will work on the D945GCLF's PCI slot.


    I'll be using the card's ports for my WAN and since both my DSL connections are below 10mb/s, i'll be just fine.

    Lastly, i won't be able to order anything online.  I can only choose between the two cards i've stated above.

  • The fxp driver sources suggest the fxp driver supports the 82558.

    This must a fairly old card so, if the slot is PCI 2.x it should be fine to use 82558 card. (The motherboard specs should make this clear.)

  • ^thanks!

    I've checked Intel's website…  http://www.intel.com/products/desktop/motherboards/d945gclf/d945gclf-overview.htm

    Expansion capabilities  One PCI Conventional* bus connector

    In any case, I'll try to get the card and see if it'll work. Thanks again for your help!

  • @n00b13:

    With that being said, can anyone confirm if…

    1. the netxtreme (broadcom) NIC will work on a PCI slot? or
    2. is the intel 82558 chip supported by pfsense?


    1)  The pictures of the NC3131 suggest that it has no issues with the board because both voltage keys are present on the card, see:

    2)  The FXP driver supports the 82558 chip so you'll have no issues.

    I personally have the Intel MT Dual port PCI-X adapter running on both a D201GLY2 and a D945GCLF2.  Works fine for me.

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