Broadcom® NetXtreme II TCP/IP Offload Engine
I'm purchasing a couple PowerEdge 860's and they have the option to purchase the Broadcom NICs with a tcp/ip traffic balancer engine. To have the feature enabled out of the box I have to purchase an O/S (RedHat or Windows) so it seems like something at the driver level(?). Has anyone used this? Is it worth the expense? If so, is it supported by pfSense? Thanks!
… so it seems like something at the driver level(?).
You're right the balancer is driver/software base
and some broadcom / marvell chip doesn't work well on pfsense
Broadcom doesn't release FreeBSD drivers, and doesn't release specs on their hardware, so drivers have to be created by reverse engineering the hardware. Hence they aren't as reliable as other cards where the vendor provides specs or the actual driver. For example Intel employees provide the Intel network drivers in FreeBSD, hence Intel NIC's are some of the most reliable and preferred.
The reason they specify RHEL and Windows is probably because those are the only platforms Broadcom puts out software for.