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.