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Re: [E1000-devel] Transmission limit

To: mellia@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
Subject: Re: [E1000-devel] Transmission limit
From: P@xxxxxxxxxxxxxx
Date: Fri, 26 Nov 2004 14:05:26 +0000
Cc: e1000-devel@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx, Jorge Manuel Finochietto <jorge.finochietto@xxxxxxxxx>, Giulio Galante <galante@xxxxxxxxx>, netdev@xxxxxxxxxxx
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I'm forwarding this to netdev, as these are very interesting
results (even if I don't beleive them).

If you point us at the code/versions we will be better able to answer.

Marco Mellia wrote:
We are trying to stress the e1000 hardware/driver under linux and Click
to see what is the maximum number of packets per second that can be
received/transmitted by a single NIC.

We found something which is counterintuitive:

- in reception, we can receive ALL the traffic, regardeless of the
packet size (or if you prefer, we can receive ALL the minimum sized
packet at gigabit speed)

I questioned whether you actually did receive at that rate to which you responded:

> - using Click, we can receive 100% of (small) packets at gigabit
>   speed with TWO cards (2gigabit/s ~ 2.8Mpps)
> - using linux and standard e1000 driver, we can receive up to about
>   80% of traffic from a single nic (~1.1Mpps)
> - using linux and a modified (simplified) version of the driver, we
>   can receive 100% on a single nic, but not 100% using two nics (up
>   to ~1.5Mpps).
> Reception means: receiving the packet up to the rx ring at the
> kernel level, and then IMMEDIATELY drop it (no packet processing,
> no forwarding, nothing more...)
> Using NAPI or IRQ has littel impact (as we are not processing the
> packets, the livelock due to the hardIRQ preemption versus the
> softIRQ managers is not entered...)
> But the limit in TRANSMISSION seems to be 700Kpps. Regardless of
> - the traffic generator,
> - the driver version,
> - the O.S. (linux/click),
> - the hardware (broadcom card have the same limit).

- in transmission we CAN ONLY trasmit about 700.000 pkt/s when the minimum sized packets are considered (64bytes long ethernet minumum frame size). That is about HALF the maximum number of pkt/s considering a gigabit link.

What is weird, is that if we artificially "preload" the NIC tx-fifo with
packets, and then instruct it to start sending them, those are actually
transmitted AT WIRE SPEED!!

These results have been obtained considering different software
generators (namely, UDPGEN, PACKETGEN, Application level generators)
under LINUX (2.4.x, 2.6.x), and under CLICK (using a modified version of

The hardware setup considers - a 2.8GHz Xeon hardware
- PCI-X bus (133MHz/64bit)
- 1G of Ram
- Intel PRO 1000 MT single, double, and quad cards, integrated or on a
PCI slot.

Different driver versions have been used, and while there are (small)
differencies when receiving packets, ALL of them present the same
trasmission limits.

Moreover, the same happen considering other vendors cards (broadcom
based chipset).

Is there any limit on the PCI-X (or PCI) that can be the bottleneck?
Or Limit on the number of packets per second that can be stored in the
NIC tx-fifo?
May the lenght of the tx-fifo impact on this?

Any hints will be really appreciated.
Thanks in advance

cheers, Pádraig.

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