Via C7 1.5GHz vs AMD Geode 1.4GHz



  • I'm looking for some energy efficient and not too expensive hardware for a PFsense box. Currently I've deployed two boxes. One is a 4U Compaq dual P3 Xeon 700MHz server, the other is an IBM single dual core Opteron server. Both of them are huge power hogs(250+ and 130+ watt). All they do is load balance a couple of Internet connections without any P2P traffic and a handfull of VPN PPTP connections and they are performing excellent. The hardware for these two boxes was chosen because they're reliable.

    I'm paying the electricity bill for the third box so I'm looking for something else and came across the following two motherboards:
    Jetway J7F4 C7 1.5GHz J7F4K1G5 (12w)
    Jetway J7F3 AMD Geode NX1750 1.4GHz (14W)

    Since the onboard NICs of both motherboards aren't very good I'm thinking of putting in a D-Link DFE-580TX (4x 100Mbps, PCI) server card to help decrease CPU load. Both motherboards only have 1 PCI slot.

    I've been looking for benchmark for Geode vs C7 but haven't found anything usefull so far. As far as I can tell the Geode performs a lot better in multimedia tasks, but the Via C7 has a unit that accelerates VPN encryption.

    Are these boards fast enough for 2x 20mbit ADSL with heavy bittorrent traffic and traffic shaping? We won't be using any VPN connections.
    I have a slight preference for the Via C7 motherboard because it's mostly fitted with solid capitors where the Geode motherboard has mostly regular capacitors. But if the Via C7 isn't fast enough to easily cope with the expected load and the Geode is, then the choice is easy.



  • My 1.2 GHz Via C7 box copes fine with a 20 Mb/s link.  I don't make massive use of torrents, but I did do lots of traffic shaping (I don't right now) and do run Squid, SquidGuard and various other bits.  Despite the use of Realtek nics, CPU load remains acceptable.



  • That's nice to hear. It's been hard trying to find some decent references between Via C7 / Geode and more 'regular' desktop CPUs. As far as I can tell a 1.5GHz C7 should be about the aquivelent of a 1GHz P3.

    I did some more reading here on the forum and came across a pfsense presentation which stated the following Hardware Sizing Guidance:
    Throughput Considerations
    10-20 Mbps - No less than 266 MHz CPU
    21-50 Mbps - No less than 500 MHz CPU
    51-200 Mbps - No less than 1.0 GHz CPU
    201-500 Mbps - server class or newer desktop hardware
      PCI-x or PCI-e network adapters
      No less than 2.0 GHz CPU
    501+ Mbps - server class hardware
      PCI-x or PCI-e network adapters
      No less than 3.0 GHz CPU

    So a 1.5GHz C7 should do just fine for 2x 20mbit.



  • The quality of the network cards matters a lot too - you can push more packets with an Intel Server card than an Intel desktop card, than a Realtek card (which means if you get the expensive cards, you can possibly get away with a lower spec CPU).



  • In that case maybe I should see if I can get my hands on one of these. Either that, or I could try putting in a decent 1-port server NIC and use a managed switch and give vlans a go. Although I'm not quite sure what that does performance wise.



  • Either one should work just fine for the load you've got.

    Try the 1.2.1 snapshots if you're feeling daring - it's based on FreeBSD 7 (vs FreeBSD 6.2 that 1.2 is based on) and networking performance is much improved in FreeBSD 7.



  • @Jantje:

    In that case maybe I should see if I can get my hands on one of these.

    You'll get a lower bandwidth if your box doesn't have a PCI-X slot (though it'll still work).  The PCI slot has a bandwidth limit of 133 MB/s (just over 1 Gb/s).  That's enough for a single GBit adapter.  Newer PCI versions (2.2) increase that to an optional 266 MB/s (just over 2 Gb/s), but you need PCI-X for enough bandwidth for 4 x 1 Gb/s links.

    Also known as - it's complicated, check your motherboard manual to see what it really supports ;)



  • I've spotted a couple of these cards on ebay for not too much. And since with 2x 20mbit it'll have to push not much more then 80mbit through the PCI bus it shouldn't be a problem bandwidth wise.

    Thanks for the reminder though. I read across this a little too fast the first time and thought it supported both PCI 1 and 2.2, instead of PCI-X 1.0 and PCI 2.2.

    Supports 3.3 volt 64-bit PCI-X* 1.0 or PCI 2.2 buses

    The jetway boards I'm looking at don't have a PCI 2.2 slot so I guess I'll have to look for a different NIC.

    When I get the hardware I think I'll try out the new 1.2.1 snapshots. It's not a very mission critical system, and I'm all for trying new things ;)



  • I'd suggest a look at this MSI motherboard.  Not only does it have 3 onboard Intel based Gbit ports, but it has a PCI-E x16, a PCI-E x1 and a PCI slots (and takes a dual core processor).  From the Intel specification of the controller, it's a rev 2.3 PCI slot.

    (I was looking at this when I thought my FX5620 was a brick)



  • Thanks for the link. But I'm looking for an energy efficient solution that uses less then 30W.

    So right now I'm considering a Jetway J7F4 C7 1.2GHz (7W) with 1GB DDR2 @400MHz a 60GB 2.5" SATA HDScorpio 8MB1pk(3W) and a D-Link DFE-580TX (3W)NIC. Together that should stay below 15W. Efficiency really drops for PSU's when you put too small of a load on them. So adding a standard PSU should keep it just below 30W if it manages around 50% effeciency, which sucks, but ok.

    30W will cost me around €60,-/year and I think that's very acceptable.



  • Sub 150W, take a look at the picoPSU range, they do a 60W version.  You can find a review of the 120W version here.



  • @Cry:

    I'd suggest a look at this MSI motherboard.  Not only does it have 3 onboard Intel based Gbit ports, but it has a PCI-E x16, a PCI-E x1 and a PCI slots (and takes a dual core processor).  From the Intel specification of the controller, it's a rev 2.3 PCI slot.

    (I was looking at this when I thought my FX5620 was a brick)

    Has anyone actually tried one of these with pfsense?  Looks like a great choice for a "busy" firewall, especially for people doing lots of VPNs since you can stash a mobile core2duo in there.

    Best,



  • I haven't (just turned out to be bad RAM in my existing box so I didn't replace it), though if you can find anybody using it on FreeBSD 7.0 (which is what pfSense 1.2.1 is based on) or 6.2 (pfSense 1.2) then you'll know pfSense will work.  Certainly the key hardware items (such as the network interfaces) are on the supported hardware lists.



  • @familyguy:

    @Cry:

    I'd suggest a look at this MSI motherboard.  Not only does it have 3 onboard Intel based Gbit ports, but it has a PCI-E x16, a PCI-E x1 and a PCI slots (and takes a dual core processor).  From the Intel specification of the controller, it's a rev 2.3 PCI slot.

    (I was looking at this when I thought my FX5620 was a brick)

    Has anyone actually tried one of these with pfsense?  Looks like a great choice for a "busy" firewall, especially for people doing lots of VPNs since you can stash a mobile core2duo in there.

    Best,

    We build server appliances using these boards, but I would not recommend them if you're looking to utilize the pci-express slot.  It is a PEG slot ONLY.  Additionally, Intel is not making the Socket M processors anymore, so it's increasingly difficult to find them.


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