Mini-ITX Atom w/ Realtek NICs vs Athlon64x2 or Core2 Duo w/ Broadcom



  • I recently upgraded my home setup from an old Micro-ATX Celeron 1GHz 768MB (no PCI-Express) to a Mini-ITX Atom C330 2GB, but encountered a problem with the Realtek NICs on the Atom's Jetway motherboard:

    • The main NIC is a reasonable (but still low-level) PCI-E Gigabit Realtek NIC.
    • A daughter board provides 3 extra Realtek Gigabit NICs, but the chipset they use seems to only be for PCI (and the driver seems to treat them as such with [FILTER] and no MSI/MSI-X); one of the three ports already had a problem.

    Average Interrupts): 327 m
    Max Interrupts: 1.66
    Average Packets In: 0.12 k pps
    Average Packets Out: 115 pps
    Max Packets In: 1.91 k pps
    Max Packets Out: 993 pps

    • 75/35mbit/s Verizon FiOS
    • CPU usage without services like Snort or Squid running is minimal, but I plan on adding them back in (Squid just for caching).
    • I make heavy use of BitTorrent and do time-sensitive stuff like competitive gaming, which is why I listed interrupts, as I worry they might become too heavy for my needs.
    • My computers use ~90-99% of the bandwidth in the house when Netflix/Hulu aren't being used.
    • I have setup extensive Traffic Shaping rules to try and get the most of out my bandwidth. P2P happens exclusively on a specific box separate from my desktop, so I just throw all its non-classified traffic into qP2P.

    My current setup:
    WAN –> pfSense router (PCI-E Realtek Gigabit)
    router --> Cisco SB Switch (PCI Realtek Gigabit #1)
    router --> Wireless Bridge (PCI Realtek Gigabit #2)

    Here's my thoughts: Since I use a switch which supports LACP and VLAN tagging, would taking two of the PCI Realtek Gigabit NICs and lagg'ing them together, then using VLAN tagging to separate Wired and Wireless, provide better performance? Or would it not matter considering it's simplistic hardware on a PCI bus?

    I also have an Athlon64 x2 w/ PCI-Express –- which I could trade for a Core2 Duo w/ PCI-Express --- and in either case put some PCI-Express Broadcom Dual NICs inside --- if you guys think that my specific needs is a lost cause on the Mini-ITX Realtek hardware; and of course I know the energy requirements would skyrocket by at least 10x, but thankfully energy is relatively inexpensive for me.



  • I know this will likely draw out the Intel lovers - but I've used several boards with both Broadcom and modern Realtek NIC's - never had a problem with any of them…



  • @rjcrowder:

    I know this will likely draw out the Intel lovers - but I've used several boards with both Broadcom and modern Realtek NIC's - never had a problem with any of them…

    Well in this case, only one Realtek is PCI-Express, which I think is a big deal. Realtek already is one of the more common NICs with the least hardware in them, with Broadcom having a decent amount of support and Intel being at least silver or gold standard; having said that, even with a saturated link, this is still only effectively serving one person, so Realtek may be more than adequate for my needs –- it really comes down to what your needs are more than anything else.

    Also, the Broadcom Dual NIC PCI-E cards are SIIG, so I don't doubt their quality (especially compared to integrated Realtek).