[rescue] When is 100 less than 10?

Jochen Kunz jkunz at unixag-kl.fh-kl.de
Wed Apr 27 12:15:31 CDT 2005

On Wed, 27 Apr 2005 10:56:13 -0500
Chad McAuley <chizad at gmail.com> wrote:

> Same here.  I've always heard people saying how horrible those RTL8319
> cards are, but I'd be interested in seeing some actual reasons why.
>From the NetBSD Realtek 8129/8139 PCI NIC driver code:

 * Default to using PIO access for this driver. On SMP systems,
 * there appear to be problems with memory mapped mode: it looks like
 * doing too many memory mapped access back to back in rapid succession
 * can hang the bus. I'm inclined to blame this on crummy design/construction
 * on the part of Realtek. Memory mapped mode does appear to work on
 * uniprocessor systems though.

 * The RealTek 8139 PCI NIC redefines the meaning of 'low end.' This is
 * probably the worst PCI ethernet controller ever made, with the possible
 * exception of the FEAST chip made by SMC. The 8139 supports bus-master
 * DMA, but it has a terrible interface that nullifies any performance
 * gains that bus-master DMA usually offers.
 * For transmission, the chip offers a series of four TX descriptor
 * registers. Each transmit frame must be in a contiguous buffer, aligned
 * on a longword (32-bit) boundary. This means we almost always have to
 * do mbuf copies in order to transmit a frame, except in the unlikely
 * case where a) the packet fits into a single mbuf, and b) the packet
 * is 32-bit aligned within the mbuf's data area. The presence of only
 * four descriptor registers means that we can never have more than four
 * packets queued for transmission at any one time.
 * Reception is not much better. The driver has to allocate a single large
 * buffer area (up to 64K in size) into which the chip will DMA received
 * frames. Because we don't know where within this region received packets
 * will begin or end, we have no choice but to copy data from the buffer
 * area into mbufs in order to pass the packets up to the higher protocol
 * levels.
 * It's impossible given this rotten design to really achieve decent
 * performance at 100Mbps, unless you happen to have a 400MHz PII or
 * some equally overmuscled CPU to drive it.
 * On the bright side, the 8139 does have a built-in PHY, although
 * rather than using an MDIO serial interface like most other NICs, the
 * PHY registers are directly accessible through the 8139's register
 * space. The 8139 supports autonegotiation, as well as a 64-bit multicast
 * filter.
 * The 8129 chip is an older version of the 8139 that uses an external PHY
 * chip. The 8129 has a serial MDIO interface for accessing the MII where
 * the 8139 lets you directly access the on-board PHY registers. We need
 * to select which interface to use depending on the chip type.


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