LR-Link, a maker of networking solutions from China, has introduced two new 10 GbE NICs based on an Intel controller. The cards are priced about 30% below similar products by Intel and other makers, yet they are aimed primarily at entry-level servers.

LR-Link’s single-port LREC9811BT and dual-port LREC9812BT network adapters are powered by Intel’s X550AT2 controller and feature a PCIe 3.0 x4 interface. The cards feature one or two RJ-45 connectors and support supports 100M, 1G, and 10G speeds using Cat5e/Cat6/Cat6A copper cabling. Intel does not explicitly deny that the X550 works with 2.5G or 5G routers/switchers, yet the company does not validate the controller with such equpment (at least officially), so nothing is guaranteed.

Intel’s X550 controller ships with drivers for all server and desktop/workstation-grade operating systems from Microsoft, VMware as well as numerous Linux distributives. Meanwhile, just like Intel, LR-Link positions its LREC9811BT and LREC9812BT network cards mainly for servers.

LR-Link's Intel X550-Based NICs
  LREC9811BT LREC9812BT
Controller Intel X550AT2
100BASE-T Yes
1000BASE-T Yes
2.5GBASE-T -
5GBASE-T -
10GBASE-T Yes (over Cat6A cables)
Ports 1 2
OS Compatibility Apple - -
Microsoft Windows 7 / 8 / 8.1 / 10 or later

Windows ServerX 2012 R2
Windows Server 2012 R2 Core
Windows Server 2012
Windows Server 2012 Core
Windows Server 2008 R2
Windows Server 2008 R2 Core
VMware VMware ESXi 5.1(Limited Functionality)
VMware ESXi 5.5
Linux LinuxX Stable Kernel version 2.6.32/3x
LinuxX RHEL 6.5 and RHEL 7.0
LinuxX SLES 11 SP3 and SLES 12
FreeBSDX 9 and FreeBSDX 10
UEFIX 2.1
UEFIX 2.3
Price Starting at $155 Starting at $275
Release Date Q3 2018

Aquantia’s single-chip 10 GbE solutions have made 10 GbE consumer-grade network adapters considerably cheaper, which lowered demand for entry-level 10 GbE server-grade NICs from SOHO customers. The later did not go unnoticed by traditional suppliers of 10 GbE cards, such as Intel. As it appears, the company has made its X550 chips available to third parties and we are about to see cheaper X550-based NICs from makers like LR-Link.

It's worth noting that LR-Link does not sell its products at retail in the West. So the cards are primarily available from Alibaba, Ebay, and various other online retailers in China. At press time the single-port LREC9811BT can be purchased starting from $155, whereas the dual-port LREC9812BT costs $275.

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Source: Hermitage Akihabara

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  • abufrejoval - Wednesday, September 19, 2018 - link

    Low cost 10Gbase-T switches (actually NBase-T) are there now, but they make a racket.

    Buffalo BS-MP2008/2012 offer 8x or 12x NBase-T at around €50/port.

    But the variable speed fans are designed to cool 31/40 Watts for 8/12 ports with far too little regard for noise.

    I fixed that, which is the long story.

    tl;dr

    1st generation 10GBase-T is around 10Watts/port, which is the main reason it rarely found its way to the desktop: People wanted it in the same form factor and “the same cool” as 1GBase-T which is less than 1Watt/port.

    Aquantia and NBase-T is all about pushing that down towards 3Watts or so (hard figures seem impossible to get), both using Energy Efficient Ethernet and the slower 2.5 and 5Gbit signal rates. That figures nicely with the 40Watt power consumption of the 12-port Buffalo part, which I believe uses three AQR407 chips (three big heat sinks).

    But the two fans that come with the unit produce way too much noise, even in idle. After a couple of hours in the same room, it was I or ‘it’. So I opened it and had a look and touch at the fans and heat-sinks to gauge heat and noise sources. One fan was even noisier than the other but mechanically there seemed nothing wrong in terms of balance or obstruction with either.

    The problem seems to be that the rotor is pulsed to produce the variable speeds and varies the frequency not the strength of the pulse. That may be required for reliability at variable speeds, but it’s terrible for noise.

    The obvious solution would be large slow-moving fans or even bigger heat sinks, but you can’t fit those in the chassis and I don’t have a metal workshop. So I took an option I cannot recommend to anyone, because you are losing insurance and risk the life of your kids apart from any warranty!

    I replaced the fans with Noctuas of equal size and have those run off the 12Volt power rail at constant speeds using the stronger resistor they supply it. With that resistor in place, the sound no longer stands out from background noise. Running off the original fan connectors (careful, pinout is different!) the Noctua fans stop spinning in idle mode (around 3 of 12Volts), which is why I went with the constant speed variant.

    It has half the rated air-flow of the original fans, so in all likelihood it’s insufficient, especially if one should fail. But I configured both the switch and all NICs to “green” Ethernet and then stress tested it running iperf3 at 10Gbit for an hour on the four hosts I have. The chassis never went more than hand warm, so I hope it’s going to be ok.

    Unfortunately, there is no temperature sensor that can be read with the switches GUI, nor will it report any data on the fans, even if the fault indicator LED turns on as soon as you disconnect one of the original fans.

    I hope one of these days a manufacturer simply does the obvious and produces a double height variant with low-noise cooling: No switch needs to be noisier than the computers it serves!
    Reply
  • mooninite - Wednesday, September 19, 2018 - link

    The problem I've seen with new switches is that they are poorly designed. If you open up a brand new 2.5/5/10G switch the actual PCB board is about 1/3rd of the size of the case that has a stupid, high-noise fan, blowing into a very empty case. The entire 10G market needs an overhaul with better designed and better priced parts. I'm not sure why this market segment is so lack luster. Reply
  • npz - Wednesday, September 19, 2018 - link

    FYI you can already get cheap third party cards like these LR-Links using Intel X550 as well as X540 that are rebranded bulk OEM Intel cards just as cheap

    https://www.amazon.com/Intel-X550T2BLK-Converged-N...
    https://www.amazon.com/ipolex-Ethernet-PCI-Express...

    A cheaper alternative if you have a x8 slot is the X540:
    https://www.amazon.com/ipolex-Ethernet-PCI-Express...
    $216 for a dual port is very good
    Reply
  • bill.rookard - Wednesday, September 19, 2018 - link

    The problem with that is that most desktop boards in the mATX variety don't have more than a x16/x1/x4(x16 physical)/x1 PCI slot config. Unless the card will downshift to an x4 mode, it won't work. Even still, it might not have full speed.

    That same listing though also listed the x550 card with the dual port, x4 PCIe, @ $288, which is still cheaper than MSRP... pricing will come down eventually.
    Reply
  • oRAirwolf - Wednesday, September 19, 2018 - link

    Not bad if you need an rj45 10gbe card for a freenas server. Freenas has no support for the aquantia cards, so options are limited for rj45. I used an Intel x540-t2 in mine for a while and it worked fine, but I just switched to a mellanox connectx-3 sfp+ card, as it produces way less heat and works without installing drivers.

    I'm not really sure if these LR alone a cards are any better of a buy than a bootleg Intel card with no yotta mark from eBay. You aren't getting a warranty either way in America, so might as well go with the eBay option for less money and pray it works.
    Reply

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