Bigfoot sheds more light on gaming network card

With the “Killer NIC” scheduled to
ship
in just over a week, Bigfoot Networks has revealed some extra
information about the so-called gaming network accelerator in an interview
with GD Hardware
. In the interview, Bigfoot mentions a
recently released white
paper
that reveals interesting tidbits about the technology behind
the Killer NIC.

The card apparently doesn’t have a TCP/IP offload engine. Instead, it optimizes
UDP traffic, which most games today favor over TCP/IP because of its
lower overhead. Bigfoot says the Killer NIC handles tasks like “IP
Reassembly, UDP/IP checksum, UDP and IP header verification and
stripping,” and that it prioritizes both incoming and outgoing
packets. Bigfoot claims his functionality translates to impressive performance gains; the Killer NIC can supposedly make 71% more UDP calls per second than an Intel Pro 1000 network card. However, Bigfoot doesn’t quote any real-world benchmarks, so right now it’s anyone’s
guess how much the card can actually speed up games.

Raw acceleration aside, the Killer NIC also includes an embedded Linux
distribution that can run “FNapps.” These FNapps can be “anything from
simple packet monitoring utilities [like fire-walls, etc] to full-blown
VOIP programs or file-sharing systems: even mini-game servers/chat
servers,” and they can use the Killer NIC’s built-in USB port to store
data in USB keychain drives or to interface with USB headsets.

Bigfoot’s spiel might make some competitive gamers and enthusiasts
salivate, but those users could be in for a nasty surprise when the card
hits store shelves. The Killer NIC will launch with a $279.99 price tag,
even higher than that of Ageia’s PhysX physics accelerator and about the price of a GeForce 7900 GT.

Comments closed
    • Tytus
    • 13 years ago

    Hey everyone, I am the inventor of the Killer NIC.

    Thank you for the interest in our Killer Network Card, the interest has been amazing!
    This will be my only post in this thread, as I don’t want to hijack it!

    I hope that some of your questions are answered in this FAQ I put together: ยง[< http://www.bigfootnetworks.com/FrequentlyAskedQuestions.aspx< ]ยง . If there are still questions, I would love to try to answer them at our sponsored community site: ยง[<http://www.endlagnow.org/ELNForums/<]ยง Thanks, Tytus

    • Chrispy_
    • 13 years ago

    WTB ambulance:

    Had an accident involving large amounts of laughing and a cracked rib.

    Can I sue Bigfoot for making me laugh too hard?

    • Capsaicin
    • 13 years ago

    q[

    • kenton
    • 13 years ago

    It can run “FNapps”? We need a FN killer app now lol

    • PerfectCr
    • 13 years ago

    l[

    • RobertGraham
    • 13 years ago

    Everyone suspects that this is snake-oil, and they are right.

    There are two problems with networks: the volume of traffic, and the delay.

    Network accelerators, like this, are often made for high-performance computers that need to handle 1-gbps worth of traffic. Since games use less than 1-mbps (a typical speed for a DSL or cable modem), there is no problem with computers handling the volume of gaming traffic.

    The typical delay for a computer’s TCP/IP stack is less than 100-microseconds, but online games typically have 100-millisecond latency/ping.

    Either way you look at it, if Bigfoot could make it’s part of the network stack “infinitely” fast, then it would improve game performance only by 0.1%.

    There is more to the story. Almost all network cards already have TCP/IP checksum offload, for example. Your network card almost certainly has most of the features they advertise.

    By the way, nVidia’s network adapter with it’s “hardware firewall” is also snake oil.

    If you want to reduce the delay/latency/ping for online games, the #1 most important item to look at is your cable-modem or DSL modem, and/or any home routers in between. These often add 1-millisecond to 10-millisecond latency to your games. If your ping is 100-millisecond latency already, replacing your 10-millisecond router could make a 10% difference in network latency. That’s a hundred times better than the 0.1% improvement that the bigfoot card might deliver, but at smaller price.

    • Krogoth
    • 13 years ago

    This is a freaking LAN server product marketed as a “gaming” card. I am pretty sure that some of the really nice, but expensive iSCSI, two-quad Gigabit ethernet and 10gigabat ethernet PCI-X/PCIe 4x+ cards have this card’s features.

    Again, latency is a factor of how far the packets have to go from your system to the server and vice versa. The only way to mininze it is by having an ISP with the most direct path to the server in question and play a server that is relatively close to your location.

    • Taddeusz
    • 13 years ago

    After reading the interview it sounds like they’re not banking on the technical merits of their card to sell it. The guy kept on about winning and being the best. You can’t win or be the best without our card!

    I’ll go out on a limb and say they’ll be gone by this time next year. And if there is any technical merit to what they are trying to sell it could be bought by someone else and possibly used in someone’s future products.

    This thing is obviously 99% hype and marketing. Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain.

    • WPB3
    • 13 years ago

    I’m very interested in the Linux on this card. A 0.00% (rounded up) performance increase from UDP isn’t much. However, taking bittorrent, fire-wall app, and voice chat out of local memory, and away from the CPU, would be interesting, although not worth $290. I hope that these people go bankrupt, and fast. That way, nVidia could buy them for a song and we could see their Linux distro inside a chipset, where it could actually reach a gamer.

      • stdPikachu
      • 13 years ago

      What the hell is the point of a mini Linux distro on the NIC though?

      True, there’s the possibility of offloading some network protocol or other onto the OS on the card, but you’ll still be offloading it onto a processor orders of magnitude slower than what is available in any modern desktop, which doesn’t even struggle with those sorts of loads in the first place.

      On top of that, you either need to make the applications themselves aware of the fact there’s a Protocol-Du-Jour offloader on your system, or you need a network driver clever enough to identify packet payloads and shunt them into the uber-NIC, meaning you have to perform real-time packet analysis (and if they’re doing that, why are they not bundling an embedded firewall?) and then divert the packets away, unless you want to replace your OS’s entire networking stack with something running on this lickle card. With 64MB of fast RAM they should have been able to pull of something alot cooler than what is basically an empty bundle of promised possibilities.

      Maybe my cynicism is getting in the way of seeing the cool things about this product but to me it sounds like a non-problem in search of a very expensive non-solution. Someone will be laughing all the way to the bank.

    • steelcity_ballin
    • 13 years ago

    Did anyone else see the flash “Tea bag” ad for the card? How silly. Buy this and cement yourself in the consumer hall of shame forever, dork.

      • A_Pickle
      • 13 years ago

      I LOLed at that. Nice. ๐Ÿ˜€

    • herothezero
    • 13 years ago

    Here’s to hoping TR gets one for review…

      • Chrispy_
      • 13 years ago

      I wish ๐Ÿ™‚

      Perhaps THG should cover it:

      “The Bigfoot GNA is, on average, 0.38% faster than our onboard realtek ethernet controller. This works out to an approximate cost of $737 per percentage improvement over the $2 network chip already included on every motherboard known to humankind. If you have a hankering for some performance networking, this is the card for you!!!!one!1”

      And in the world’s smallest, most obscure font:

      “(Please note, typical test error +/- 2%)”

    • StashTheVampede
    • 13 years ago

    Let’s get this straight: a vast majority of gamers have a DSL/Cable line behind a router, right? The real key to making this kickass: optimizing udp gaming packets while this nic is setup as a router.

    Even with that, there are numerous packet shaping techniques to get UDP higher priority, etc. Let’s see some reviews on non LAN setups. I’d like the average joe to connect to some CS server, with a typical sub 30ms connect (I do it all the time) and then switch the card to this Killer NIC.

    • wierdo
    • 13 years ago

    I dunno… this sounds like snake oil.

    I don’t think something like this will really help performance much, and at the price they’re asking, the idea is even more questionable imho.

    • ArturNOW
    • 13 years ago

    Even if it’ll turn out to be working I don’t know if anyone is going to get this. 270$ for NIC it’s 240$ to much IMHO. Even though I’m never gonna get it I’m still eager to see some benchmarks ๐Ÿ˜€

    • Sargent Duck
    • 13 years ago

    I like how it’s PCI. What is it with companies releasing these “gaming cards” on PCI when “gaming” motherboards are deceasing the amount of PCI slots? I mean, if you have this card (PCI), the Aegia card (PCI) and a x-fi (PCI), you’re not gonna have enough slots. It would be a much better idea, I think, to make some of these PCIe-1x. But of course, that would make sense. And these cards are clearly designed for people who don’t have any sense.

      • stdPikachu
      • 13 years ago

      Not just running out of slots either. A computer with an X-Fi, Phys-X and one of these babies, all under heavy load in the middle of a big networked game, will saturate the PCI (max. throughput ~130MB/s) bus very easily. One of the reasons that PCIe was introduced was to overcome this obstacle.

      Glad to see it has a market adoption rate of near zero. Obviously 250MB/s of dedicated bandwidth would just be spoiling us.

        • Sargent Duck
        • 13 years ago

        According to them, you are wrong

        [quote=”GD Hardware”]GD: Any word on releasing a PCI-Express version?

        Bigfoot: No. There is no need for us to go to PCI-Express as networking for online games is not limited by the PCI architecture. There are more details about this in the white paper we published. [/quote]

        The article is actually a very funny read. Highly recommended for it’s entertainment value.

    • MagerValp
    • 13 years ago

    The Intel card can already push 100x more UDP data than my DSL line can handle, so what’s the point? Latency is all that matters, and less crap between the CPU and the network is probably better. UDP checksums are trivial and do not load the CPU significantly at all.

    • maxxcool
    • 13 years ago

    r[

    • LoneWolf15
    • 13 years ago

    /[

      • totoro
      • 13 years ago

      y[

    • DrDillyBar
    • 13 years ago

    So will it improve preformance when I UT2004 and torrent at the same time? That price tag makes me want to go run out and buy a PPU…

    • albundy
    • 13 years ago

    so the question is, will you still blame your isp or this card when your still lagging…

    • Damage
    • 13 years ago

    Performance optimizations only really matter when they are made on a bottleneck in a critical path. I’m not convinced UDP handling in current client-side network cards is a significant contributor to lag in gaming. This thing could be 10,000 times the speed of the average NIC at handling UDP, and the difference might not amount to a millisecond. We’ll have to review it and see.

      • continuum
      • 13 years ago

      I’m not convinced either. We routinely through one-third-line-rate traffic at products with Intel Pro1000-series NICs at 60 byte packet sizes… at 333mbit/sec with 60-byte frames performance isn’t an issue. If a game can generate that kind of traffic I’d love to see it.

      However, I am curious, since for $279 I would hope there’s at least one drop of truth in there somewhere…

    • divided421
    • 13 years ago

    Company’s really love to stick expensive items to people that don’t know any better! This is probably the most ridiculous waste of money I have ever seen. Any person with a clue could show on a typical gaming rig, networking saps a tremendous 1-2% of your systems power. Those theoretical numbers – 71% increase in UDP calls – just means it CAN handle them, not that your game needs the extra capability. UDP has very little processing going on per packet anyway…it is essentially just a step up from a raw IP packet. Totally useless and insanely overpriced, even if it does give you .05% better performance. Can’t wait to see it show up in those Dell/Alienware metal bricks.

    • Hance
    • 13 years ago

    It sounds like it might be good product but at that price I guess I will never know

    • sacremon
    • 13 years ago

    Actually, given that it specifically enhances UDP packet handling, it would make a good card for a software-based video conferencing system. The vast majority of the data in video conferencing is UDP, with TCP generally reserved for call setup/management. Given the cost of some VC software solutions this NIC, should reality match the hype, would be a good deal.

    • Nullvoid
    • 13 years ago

    Bringing the product to market without any reviews/previews having taken place just sets off alarm bells as far as I’m concerned :/

    And that price is just ridiculous given that so many other factors can affect gaming performance online.

      • Stijn
      • 13 years ago

      At first it seemed an interesting product to me, but the price is way too high..

        • Thebolt
        • 13 years ago

        yeah I saw that and figured I was looking at a $40-60 network card that might improve ping in some instances.. if the technology worked well it might be worth it. I kept reading and suddenly felt just fine with my onboard network port.. $300 for a network card when I could spend that on graphics for my games.

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