Recommendation on Intel NIC?


7 posts in this topic Last Reply

Recommended Posts

Hi,

I have an ASUS RT-AC88U, which according to its documentation supports link aggregation. I have never used this feature but it sounds like something I will definitely want with my setup at some point. To use it, I assume I would need a NIC that also supports link aggregation. I am not planning to use the motherboard built in lan once I move to this so I would like a NIC that has 2 ports built in rather than getting 2 cards, but I can go that way if it's easier and not too expensive. The motherboard is out of a dell that is at least 15 years old so it is *very* slow.

Can anyone recommend a good intel (or other brand, just heard intel is best supported) NIC with this capability, that shouldn't be too hard to set up in this way?

 

Edited by Hydranmenace
Reason? My 1 year old got my mouse while I was typing. Pretty good reason, huh? Little goober
Link to post

Link aggregation in unRaid is done by the software based bond interface, once you update your config.

There are different modes available, which you can examine on the help in the settings:

Mode 0 (balance-rr)
This mode transmits packets in a sequential order from the first available slave through the last. If two real interfaces are slaves in the bond and two packets arrive destined out of the bonded interface the first will be transmitted on the first slave and the second frame will be transmitted on the second slave. The third packet will be sent on the first and so on. This provides load balancing and fault tolerance.

Mode 1 (active-backup) - default
This mode places one of the interfaces into a backup state and will only make it active if the link is lost by the active interface. Only one slave in the bond is active at an instance of time. A different slave becomes active only when the active slave fails. This mode provides fault tolerance.

Mode 2 (balance-xor)
This mode transmits packets based on an XOR formula. Source MAC address is XOR'd with destination MAC address modula slave count. This selects the same slave for each destination MAC address and provides load balancing and fault tolerance.

Mode 3 (broadcast)
This mode transmits everything on all slave interfaces. This mode is least used (only for specific purpose) and provides only fault tolerance.

Mode 4 (802.3ad)
This mode is known as Dynamic Link Aggregation. It creates aggregation groups that share the same speed and duplex settings. It requires a switch that supports IEEE 802.3ad dynamic link. Slave selection for outgoing traffic is done according to the transmit hash policy, which may be changed from the default simple XOR policy via the xmit_hash_policy option. Note that not all transmit policies may be 802.3ad compliant, particularly inregards to the packet mis-ordering requirements of section 43.2.4 of the 802.3ad standard. Different peer implementations will have varying tolerances for noncompliance.

Mode 5 (balance-tlb)
This mode is called Adaptive transmit load balancing. The outgoing traffic is distributed according to the current load and queue on each slave interface. Incoming traffic is received by the current slave.

Mode 6 (balance-alb)
This mode is called Adaptive load balancing. This includes balance-tlb + receive load balancing (rlb) for IPV4 traffic. The receive load balancing is achieved by ARP negotiation. The bonding driver intercepts the ARP Replies sent by the server on their way out and overwrites the src hw address with the unique hw address of one of the slaves in the bond such that different clients use different hw addresses for the server.

Mode 1 (active-backup) is the recommended setting. Other modes allow you to set up a specific environment, but may require proper switch support. Choosing a unsupported mode can result in a disrupted communication.

...with the Asus Router, you probably want "Mode 4",..just check that it supports LACP and do not confuse Load-Balancing (i.e. for WAN) with Link-Aggregation of the LAN-switch. Maybe it only will support that on a subset of its ports (maybe 1+2 only)

 

In terms of what card to go for, I'd recommend one based on Intel 82576 chipset...there are Dual-Port, PCIe-x1 models available from different brands/manufaturers

 

Edit: based on your earlier post, it seems like you already know where to find one of those.

Question is, as your ASUS only has a 4 port switch, what is your intention or rather what you will gain from using LACP?

Edited by Ford Prefect
Link to post
19 hours ago, Ford Prefect said:

Link aggregation in unRaid is done by the software based bond interface, once you update your config.

There are different modes available, which you can examine on the help in the settings:


Mode 0 (balance-rr)
This mode transmits packets in a sequential order from the first available slave through the last. If two real interfaces are slaves in the bond and two packets arrive destined out of the bonded interface the first will be transmitted on the first slave and the second frame will be transmitted on the second slave. The third packet will be sent on the first and so on. This provides load balancing and fault tolerance.

Mode 1 (active-backup) - default
This mode places one of the interfaces into a backup state and will only make it active if the link is lost by the active interface. Only one slave in the bond is active at an instance of time. A different slave becomes active only when the active slave fails. This mode provides fault tolerance.

Mode 2 (balance-xor)
This mode transmits packets based on an XOR formula. Source MAC address is XOR'd with destination MAC address modula slave count. This selects the same slave for each destination MAC address and provides load balancing and fault tolerance.

Mode 3 (broadcast)
This mode transmits everything on all slave interfaces. This mode is least used (only for specific purpose) and provides only fault tolerance.

Mode 4 (802.3ad)
This mode is known as Dynamic Link Aggregation. It creates aggregation groups that share the same speed and duplex settings. It requires a switch that supports IEEE 802.3ad dynamic link. Slave selection for outgoing traffic is done according to the transmit hash policy, which may be changed from the default simple XOR policy via the xmit_hash_policy option. Note that not all transmit policies may be 802.3ad compliant, particularly inregards to the packet mis-ordering requirements of section 43.2.4 of the 802.3ad standard. Different peer implementations will have varying tolerances for noncompliance.

Mode 5 (balance-tlb)
This mode is called Adaptive transmit load balancing. The outgoing traffic is distributed according to the current load and queue on each slave interface. Incoming traffic is received by the current slave.

Mode 6 (balance-alb)
This mode is called Adaptive load balancing. This includes balance-tlb + receive load balancing (rlb) for IPV4 traffic. The receive load balancing is achieved by ARP negotiation. The bonding driver intercepts the ARP Replies sent by the server on their way out and overwrites the src hw address with the unique hw address of one of the slaves in the bond such that different clients use different hw addresses for the server.

Mode 1 (active-backup) is the recommended setting. Other modes allow you to set up a specific environment, but may require proper switch support. Choosing a unsupported mode can result in a disrupted communication.

...with the Asus Router, you probably want "Mode 4",..just check that it supports LACP and do not confuse Load-Balancing (i.e. for WAN) with Link-Aggregation of the LAN-switch. Maybe it only will support that on a subset of its ports (maybe 1+2 only)

 

In terms of what card to go for, I'd recommend one based on Intel 82576 chipset...there are Dual-Port, PCIe-x1 models available from different brands/manufaturers

 

Edit: based on your earlier post, it seems like you already know where to find one of those.

Question is, as your ASUS only has a 4 port switch, what is your intention or rather what you will gain from using LACP?

That's all crazy informative. So thank you very much. My router has 8 ports +1 for the modem. As for what will I gain.. experience I think. Like I said it just sounds like something I might want at some point in the future. I could be entirely wrong but most of my using unraid has just been because I want to try new things and learn stuff. I would rather have a nic that *can* do aggregation for not much more than one that can't. So I suppose what I may gain from using LACP is the knowledge of how to set it up and make it work. Assuming I can, heh.

 

Short term goals currently, LACP or no, is just better transfer rates to and from the unraid server. I can transfer at roughly 11.5 MB/s. Which seems pretty slow to me. I can't really manage to smoothly stream video from Plex to my chromecast at that rate, it stutters and pauses a lot. I assume that is because the motherboards built in ethernet is from about 2004 and is 10/100? Also using some pretty old and really long (about 60ft\18m) ethernet cable. So I picked up a shorter new cat 8. Don't know if that will matter or not but I thought if it is old enough it could impede things.

Link to post

...yes, based on the diagnostics in your other thread, your NIC on the MB only supports 100Mpbs, which results roughly in a transfer speed of 11MB/sec.

With a 1Gbps NIC you can get about 112MB/s...you need CAT5e or better cables...but a CAT8 patchcable is a marketing hoax, as there are no connectors better than CAT6A (still good for 10-40Gbps)....let's assume it is at least CAT6A ;-)

 

However, unRaid can not achieve read speeds higher than that of a single disk...so when not reading from a faster SSD, there is not much to gain for a single client session.

LACP is best for multiple, simultaneaus connections to the same service, like many users streaming videos (where files reside on different unRaid Disks) or when using the Cache Disk (for write).

 

The Intel Dual NIC, based on 82576 chipset, I linked will do fine and unRaid will support LACP with it....I have it in one of my unRaid boxes as well...another is using an i350-T (which is a Quad 1Gbps card) with LACP....but nowadays, a 10GBE (SFP+) card is in the same Ballpark (you can get a set of two and a DAC cable for approx 100USD, used).

Edited by Ford Prefect
Link to post

I just watched SpaceInvader One's video on the SPF+ cards about an hour ago. Looked more like what I want to do for sure. Problem with that is it sounded like the length of the cable could be limiting. The unraid box is 2 rooms away from my router. I don't have many options for moving things around. If the cable is long enough, then I will almost certainly try that sometime soon! In the mean time at least the nic will be a lot better. Good to know I kinda got marketing scammed. Eh. It was only about $10 for 30' so it's probably fine anyway. Another thing to look out for though. I really appreciate it.

Link to post

the length of the cable for SFP+ is not really an issue...when using an optical transceiver and an optical Fiber "patchcable", anything from 3 feet to 60miles is easily available, based on off-the-shelve, standard hardware (of course running the fiber along for 60miles would be a major effort ;-) ). Modern fiber "cables" are flexible enough to be run along fine (still not bendable to 90deg, but with short radius. However, using non pre-manufactured "patchcables and using fibers "raw" is still for the Professionals, as you would need skill and eqipment.

But you can get readily assembled "patchcables" for up to 100feet as standard, like here: https://www.fs.com/products/74615.html?attribute=1519&id=196686

An individual set (2 Tranceivers, Optical patchcable, for 30feet) is also less than 50USD (2x20+10). A small 10G Switch starts from approx 150USD: https://www.newegg.com/mikrotik-crs305-1g-4s-in/p/0XP-002R-000H3?Description=crs305&cm_re=crs305-_-0XP-002R-000H3-_-Product&quicklink=true

Link to post

Ok. The video I watched said something about there being "active" and "passive" cables I think? I believe he went with passive cables because they were cheap, but those are perhaps limited in how long they should be? Anyway, my ethernet cable is 30' and is exactly the right length, so I am going to revisit this really soon. Again, thank you. These forums and people here are among the best I've experienced.

Link to post

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.
Note: Your post will require moderator approval before it will be visible.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Restore formatting

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.