nForce4 SLI Roundup: Painful and Rewardingby Wesley Fink on February 28, 2005 7:00 AM EST
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Ethernet PerformanceWe have often talked about the throughput advantage of PCI Express compared to PCI and its impact on Gigabit LAN performance. To show you this, the new motherboard test suite needed to include LAN performance measurements.
The Windows 2000 Driver Development Kit (DDK) includes a useful LAN testing utility called NTttcp. We used the NTttcp tool to test Ethernet throughput and the CPU utilization of the various Ethernet Controllers used on the nForce4 SLI motherboards.
We set up one machine as the server; in this case, an Intel box with an Intel CSA Gigabit LAN connection. Intel CSA has a reputation for providing fast throughput and this seemed a reasonable choice to serve our Gigabit LAN clients. At the server side, we used the following Command Line as suggested by the VIA whitepaper on LAN testing:
Ntttcps -m 4,0,‹client IP› -a 4 -l 256000 -n 30000On the client side (the motherboard under test), we used the following Command Line:
Ntttcpr -m 4,0,‹server IP› -a 4 -l 256000 -n 30000At the conclusion of the test, we captured the throughput and CPU utilization figures from the client screen.
While Marvel PCI has a bit lower overhead, the throughput for Gigabit LAN on PCI is almost 30% lower than Gigabit on PCI Express. The nVidia on-chip PCIe LAN also exhibits lower CPU utilization than the full Gigabit LAN on PCIe. It has also been reported that enabling nVidia Active Armor lowers CPU overhead even further.
All Ethernet tests were performed with standard frames, but Gigabit Ethernet supports Jumbo frames as well. Jumbo frames will theoretically provide a further reduction in CPU overhead. We have seen test results that show the combination of Active Armor and Jumbo Frames, which can reduce CPU utilization below 10%, a very respectable performance for on-chip gigabit LAN.