"Killer" NIC released to improved performance in games

By Justin Mann on August 8, 2006, 7:34 PM
We've seen companies selling routers specifically aimed at gamers, featuring built in QoS to prioritize traffic for games over other things. Now we have a company that is specifically creating network cards for gamers. Bigfoot Networks is introducing a NIC that supposedly offloads more work from the CPU onto itself for networking, improving overall experience and decreasing latency or “jumpiness”. On top of just being a beefy NIC, it also has a suite of utilities built into it intended to give someone maximum control over their connection:

“There are no consumer products available today that are comparable to Killer. In addition to being a Network Interface Card (NIC), Killer is also a computer within a computer. With Killer’s Flexible Network Architecture (FNATM) you can literally run a Linux command prompt in a window on your gaming PC. This command prompt interface is a Flexible Network Application (FNappTM) that will come on the Killer install disc. Killer is the only network card that runs an open-source version of embedded Linux and allows users to write and download their own FNapps to the card. Killer is also the only consumer level network card that boasts full gaming-network offloading functionality. With Killer, your gaming operating system does not perform any IP or UDP functions or calculations (everything is handled in the card).
Some of these things sound very cool. Full IP stack load onto a hardware device would be fantastic not only for gamers, but for high-demand routers that must process lots of packets. The “Killer” card also can prioritize traffic in both directions, which distingushes it from similar products. One bone of contention I could have is the assumption that it improves latency and ping time. While latency from lesser CPU load could be improved, even onboard NICs that rely heavily on CPU have an absolutely minimal impact on ping responses, especially considering that 99% of the latency comes from traversing between devices, not delays on a single one. Regardless, it's an interesting product.




User Comments: 5

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pikaj00 said:
i smell b/sany modern computer can easily handle any network traffic thrown at it. just look at consumer-grade routers, they have 4 or more ports and you rarely see anything in them higher than maybe 200mhz RISC chips in them and you rarely find one that bogs down under heavy traffic. if anything its just a tinkertoy for hardcore gamers with too much money to spend just like physics cards, and maybe those who have the dire need to tweak every piece of hardware in their computer although the gains are minimal. its essentially feeding on the same myth that winmodems are somehow slower than full hardware modems simply because winmodems use the cpu more. oh well, if anything it will part yet more geeks from their money....
DragonMaster said:
[quote]a NIC that supposedly offloads more work from the CPU onto itself for networking,[/quote]Sounds like 3Com's "Parallel Tasking" main chip on 3C905-series NIC card.
asphix said:
/agree.. this has gimmic written all over it. but I blame fatal1ty or whatever his name is for starting this whole trend to begin with.The real question.. when will we be graced by a gaming PSU, Gaming CD-ROM and most importantly the gaming office desk.. each with their respective price increase due to the "special deign" geared toward a gamer.
9Nails said:
I can see performance with an add-on GPU over the built-in chip. I can hear a difference of an add-on sound card over the built-in audio chip. But NIC? I'd like to see a real world review demonstrate its usefulness. I'm not saying that a NIC card can't out perform a built-in chip. It's entirely possible that this NIC is fantastic. But I just don't know why I need it yet.
tytus said:
Tytus here (one of the inventors of Killer),Thanks for the article, very well written. As for potential Ping improvments... ping is a weird word. What we mean is: we will reduce "in-game ping" which includes the overhead from the networking stack... (we not only offload it, we tweak it to the max optimized for latency and low cpu).More details in our FAQ Here:[url]http://www.bigfootnetworks.com/FrequentlyAskedQues
ions.aspx[/url]And I'm always available to answer questions here:[url]http://www.endlagnow.org/ELNForums/[/url]Thanks, Tytus (p.s. don't worry, this is my only post, just wanted to say thanks).
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