Slow speeds with Realtek and Broadcom so looking for Intel NIC for HP N54L

  • Hi everyone,


    I need some advice on an Intel NIC for my HP N54L.


    I am running OMV kralizec (installed on top of Debian) with the backports kernel and it's running very nicely with the exception of LAN speeds.


    The on board NIC seemed to have poor performance so I have disabled it in the BIOS and bought a Realtek 8168 which a friend recommended. However, I also seem to be having issues with this. I thought it could be due to it using the 8169 module, but after following this guide: https://amk1.wordpress.com/200…ealtek-8168-module-issue/ I have had no improvement.


    The HP is plugged into my router (Asus RT-N66U) via a Cat 6E 50cm cable (was Cat 5e, but bought 2 x Cat 6E and both show no improvement) so I do not think this is the problem. If I cable into the router using my laptop then test using iperf, I get anything from 945Mbit down to 115Mbit. This was the same with both the integrated Broadcom and the Realtek. Just to rule the HDD out, I have also checked that using HDparm and I get a result of 148.64 MB/sec.


    I would like to buy an Intel NIC to rule the NICs out entirely, so would like to know if anyone can recommend a low profile intel NIC?


    I was looking at this: HP NC360T which I can find on eBay for £25 used. I believe this is an Intel 82571EB according to HP here: http://h18004.www1.hp.com/prod…king/nc360t/benefits.html


    I quite like the idea of a dual port NIC so I can future proof and possibly use bonding in the future.


    Any help/suggestions would be appreciated. Equally, if anyone has any suggestions around my existing setup that I my have overlooked, I am willing to try.


    Thanks :)

  • Check iperf with 5-10 parallel connections, everything else is not reliable.


    Greetings
    David

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  • Hi David,


    Thanks for getting back to me.


    Here are the results:


    Command:


    Code
    iperf -c 192.168.0.100 -P 10


    1st Test



    2nd Test



    Not sure why, but on a 3rd attempt, I now get this:


    Code
    bind failed: Address already in use


    This didn't happen when using iperf without the -P option.. There is, however, a dramatic drop in speed by the time the 2nd test is run. My experience with iperf without the -P option is that initial tests were fine (about 945Mbit as shown) but all subsequent tests drop to about a 1/10 of that. Once the speed drops, it doesn't come back up without a reboot. If at all.


    Any ideas?

    • Official Post


    Your friend recommended a Realtek 8168? I'd go kick that friends... Seriously, that card gave me fits for almost 2yrs.. I tried all the fixes, drivers, etc. Realtek Linux drivers just absolutely suck was my ultimate conclusion. Save yourself the headache and just buy an Intel card.


    Edit: Sorry, here's the card I ordered... http://www.newegg.com/Product/….aspx?Item=9SIA24G1XA5402


  • Seriously, that card gave me fits for almost 2yrs.. I tried all the fixes, drivers, etc. Realtek Linux drivers just absolutely suck was my ultimate conclusion. Save yourself the headache and just buy an Intel card.


    Edit: Sorry, here's the card I ordered... http://www.newegg.com/Product/….aspx?Item=9SIA24G1XA5402


    2 years? :-/ I wouldn't have your patience! I've been struggling for a few days with this Realtek and I'm about ready to set fire to it ceremoniously! ;) Thanks for the link. I can get that card for about £20. Sounds good, I'll probably go for that if I decide not to go for a dual port.


    Do you happen to know if the HP NC360T (Intel 82571EB) would work well with Linux? Intel list drivers for it, but then Realtek list drivers too, so I know it's not always that clear cut.

  • Please try to install the backports kernel on your machine and see if those speeddrops continue or vanish.


    Greetings
    David

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  • I'm already using the backports kernel. Kernel 3.16. This is one of the first things I did when installing Wheezy because of increased hardware support.

    • Official Post

    Didn't catch where you wanted dual ports. As for the card you mentioned... It's Intel, so I'd say the odds are good that it will work out of the box w/ either the stock kernel, or the backport kernel


    [quote='davidh2k','http://forums.openmediavault.org/index.php/Thread/7627-Slow-speeds-with-Realtek-and-Broadcom-so-looking-for-Intel-NIC-for-HP-N54L/?postID=70522#post70522']Please try to install the backports kernel on your machine and see if those speeddrops continue or vanish.</p>


    Greetings
    David


    If his experience is like mine... the backports kernel doesn't solve a thing for that device.</p>

  • I'll own up, it's probably my fault. ;) I bought the N54L because HP had a cash back offer so the final price was £60, I didn't realise the Broadcom sucked so much so went looking for another card. In his defense, my friend runs Win 2008 on his N54L and claims to have no problems so I didn't think anything of it when he recommended it. The card was reasonably priced and I checked for Linux support.. just didn't check to see if there were issues with Linux because he said the performance was great for him. A lesson learned I guess ;)

    • Official Post

    I have used OMV/Debian/Ubuntu with a lot of Dell servers with Broadcom adapters and a few HP N40Ls. Never had any issues with them. I honestly don't understand why you are having issues with the onboard N54L adapter. I agree that Intel adapters are the best but I would never group Broadcom adapters with Realtek.

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  • Well you've clearly had different results to me. I experienced a similar situation with the Broadcom card as I did with the Realtek.


    Appalling low performance. 3 minutes to copy a gig of data to an AFP share? 12 Hours (estimated) for an Initial time machine backup of just ~180gig (which I didn't let it complete).


    I have:


    Made sure the tigon firmware and backports kernel are installed
    Tried a different router
    Disconnected ALL other devices from the router on both LAN and WLAN except the client and N54L for iperf
    Upgraded all my cabling, using shorter Cat 6A
    Checked the settings for the card
    Verified that the HDD's aren't the bottleneck


    In the brief flickers of good performance that I have managed to grasp, I am archiving near full Gigabit speeds, and this can be affected by simply unplugging the cable and plugging it in again.. no change to settings, no reboot etc. I can test with iperf and get ~950Mbit then test again straight after and get ~112Mbit. It's almost been like a crappy old car, when it warms up, it overheats and conks out. If this doesn't scream crappy integrated NIC, I don't know what does. I'm not saying Broadcom should be put in the same box as Realtek, but in this particular instance, something isn't right with the integrated Broadcom in this unit. I find it hard to believe it could be faulty, it's just tetchy! If i've missed anything obvious that you can think of, I am willing to give it a go. I could always use a third 'decent' NIC.

    • Official Post

    Are you trying to use jumbo frames? I don't use them.


    When I had an N40L at home, I was using an RT-N66U as well (tomato by shibby firmware) and didn't do anything special to settings. Just OMV 1.x and backports 3.14 kernel. Samba and nfs were never slow. At work, my N40L is my backup server in a different building and I still get good speeds through five switches.


    It would be interesting to use a good gigabit switch in place of the RT-N66U. If that doesn't speed it up, try a faster drive (ssd) or create a temporary raid 0 array. Unless there is something wrong with the onboard adapter, I really don't think it is problem.

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  • Are you trying to use jumbo frames? I don't use them.


    No. MTU defaults to 1500, the card is only configured with a static IP - no other changes.



    When I had an N40L at home, I was using an RT-N66U as well (tomato by shibby firmware) and didn't do anything special to settings.


    Same router, with dd-wrt. No settings changed that would affect this.



    Just OMV 1.x and backports 3.14 kernel.


    Same, (but with 3.16) I've even done a fresh install in case I accidentally messed something up.



    It would be interesting to use a good gigabit switch in place of the RT-N66U.


    I'll try that next if the Intel card I have ordered does not resolve the issue. I don't understand how you have managed it though with this same model?



    If that doesn't speed it up, try a faster drive (ssd) or create a temporary raid 0 array.


    I have tested the drive with HDparm and the output was about 145MB/sec if I recall correctly. I have a couple of spare SSDs that I can try if the Intel card does not fix the issue. I can occasionally reach good transfer speeds though, but it's intermittent. I would have thought if the issue was the HDDs that it would be slow all the time.



    Unless there is something wrong with the onboard adapter, I really don't think it is problem.


    Worst case scenario, I could install a Win system on a spare drive and see how that goes, but not yet.

    • Official Post

    hdparm is not what I typically use to test a hard drive. I would more curious to see the results of:


    Change directory to a directory on the drive and then:
    time dd if=/dev/zero of=test5.dd bs=1M count=20000 conv=fdatasync && sync


    And other than the realtek onboard nic that died on my home server, I really don't have any problems with realtek either. I just transferred 15 GB worth of ISOs from my desktop (Linux Mint 17.1 with realtek NIC) to my production server (OMV 1.x/3.14 kernel with broadcom nic) using samba and averaged over 100MB/s. I can average 50MB/s using ssh/scp with that setup.

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  • The output as requested:


    Code
    20000+0 records in
    20000+0 records out
    20971520000 bytes (21 GB) copied, 220.287 s, 95.2 MB/s
    dd if=/dev/zero of=test5.dd bs=1M count=20000 conv=fdatasync  0.07s user 60.88s system 27% cpu 3:40.32 total


    Not quite the 145MB/sec that HDparm was giving, but it's not terrible by any stretch of the imagination! It's certainly not relective of the speeds I have been seeing over LAN.


    Just a thought... I'm running the modified BIOS for this unit because I wanted the ability to hotswap, there's not some setting that I've overlooked in there? Then again, I don't suppose it would be fast sometimes and not others if there was a limiting factor at a BIOS level?


    EDIT:
    Just checked with iperf again... pretty much the same results as before... :-/



    That's about 30MB/sec, which is what I get...

    • Official Post

    I run the modified bios on all of the N40Ls. Have you run memtest on the unit? I don't remember any settings in the mod bios that would affect networking. But I haven't look in a long time.

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  • Memtest was run initially when I upgraded the RAM. The unit came with 2GB and I have upgraded to 4GB. The 4GB was tested about a week ago when I got it and it was fine, I'll run again when I get a minute. The server is headless and I don't have a display free at the moment. I'm not experiencing any other issues indicative of bad memory though.

  • Memtest has passed.


    I've been thinking about replacing the router with a gigabit switch.. or at least upgrading the router to something more commercial grade. I was looking at all the options available on the market which are probably going to be either out of my price range. I got chatting to someone at work today and they said that I should look into a 'homemade' router solution... he mentioned Alix boards, but I looked into these and they are only 10/100 Ethernet, but it did get me thinking about the possibility of buying a low powered fan-less board and putting something like pfSense on it.


    I was looking at this: http://routerboard.com/RB2011UiAS-2HnD-IN it's available in the UK for about £130... I'd probably want to plug an 802.11ac AP into it though.


    I was also looking at something like this http://linitx.com/product/pcen…-board-with-4gb-ram/14344 which might have some more potential.. looks like I might be able to get 3 x 802.11ac cards in it.


    Last thing I thought of was a MicroATX / MiniITX board with a bunch of wired and wireless NICs in it, but I guess something like this would need some active cooling and wouldn't be silent.


    Are there any recommendations on low powered fan less boards that I can make into a decent router/switch?

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