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Speed up that network...

Here's a piece I've written for IT Pro on the basics of upgrading an existing network to gigabit ethernet...
Gigabit networking hardware is getting cheaper, so much cheaper that gigabit network cards are now standard in many desktop PCs and servers. Used as a server room technology in the past, it is now ready for the desktop and the small business. If you're already running a 100Base-T or even 10Base-T -network, you may be closer to moving to gigabit than you might think.
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( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
megadog
Jan. 2nd, 2007 08:42 pm (UTC)
I was installing pretty much blown-fibre-to-the-desktop for some of my clients twelve years ago; OK they weren't using it at Gigabit speeds [10Mbit fibre passive-hubs were the leading-edge tech back then, and security the motivation...] but like you say, fast networks make the need for local storage pretty much redundant. With Gigabit to the desktop it can work out faster to put swap space on a networked pseudodisk - an idea which really freaks some people.

I forsee a near-future desktop-PC with Gigabyte of flash-memory and a Gigabyte of RAM as workspace, with everything else coming via the network. Make the CPU conduction- or heatpipe-cooled too and you can do away with _all_ moving parts, with consequent massive improvement in reliability. Of course this presupposes a near-100%-reliable/secure LAN and server-infrastructure behind it, which is where my pension comes from....
ccomley
Jan. 2nd, 2007 10:16 pm (UTC)
I really think you should've mentioned how much disappointment to expect. For example, a gigabit-equipped NAS box talking to a gigabit equipped (on motherboard) Dell Opteron, the best throghput I can get (i.e. NAS box otherwise idle) is about 250Mb. It's a "home" NAS (Buffalo Terastation) so I'm not too surprised it slows down a lot under load, but unladen I think there's more to it. I'm trying to get together various other bits of kit to check but it's looking like there's an aweful lot of so-called gigabit kit out there which can't being to cut the mustard.

For one thing, a plain PCI card won't do it coz PCI bus doesn't have the bandwidth to punt through at gigabit speeds. The only good news here is as you have to use a switched network, at least a slow card only slows itself down. (Unless its in your server of course.)

( 2 comments — Leave a comment )