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The Icon Bar: News and features: Simtec 100bT cards are out!
 

Simtec 100bT cards are out!

Posted by Richard Goodwin on 15:36, 27/3/2002 | , , , ,
 
Net100The Simtec Net100 100bT network cards are out!

The Simtec cards, which will be sold via CTA, R-Comp and Stuart Tyrrell, have been sent in pre-production form to selected reviewers and vendors. So I was a very happy bunny when one dropped on my desk this morning, especially as the Castle card I ordered and was told would be delivered February is already a month late!

Drivers are supplied on Flash memory which can be updated at a later date. The software to update my !Boot sequence and update the Flash actually appeared in the Apps directory, so there's no need to even supply a floppy or CD with software. The new EtherX drivers can then be configured in exactly the same way as existing NICs.

Initial tests show that there's not a great deal of difference on some existing software - for instance I had to change the buffer size on FTPc to get more than 500K/sec on the internal office network, and using Fresco to FTP download gave nearly half that - and ShareFS access has had to be slowed so that it doesn't crash the existing 10bT network. But on LanMan networks you should see a lot more speed, around 2MB/sec, and hopefully we should see programs written to take advantage of the new speed in the future. The fact is that the card is now available (at least to some) - cheaper and more easily available (RSN) than 10bT cards, and I've already found some things such as the Samba server much more stable due to better buffering. At the very least the chips won't pop out like on my Ant card (you'll see why when you get to the comparison photo :)

I've taken some pictures and they're available from here. I'll continue to run some tests to quantify any difference in speed over the old Ant card I used to use!
 
  Simtec 100bT cards are out!
  (16:19 27/3/2002)
  Richard Goodwin (16:35 27/3/2002)
    Guest (16:37 27/3/2002)
      Richard Goodwin (16:52 27/3/2002)
        Mr Jake Monkeyson (17:03 27/3/2002)
          Richard Goodwin (17:17 27/3/2002)
            Guest (17:43 27/3/2002)
              Richard Goodwin (17:51 27/3/2002)
                Guest (18:36 27/3/2002)
                  Mr Jake Monkeyson (18:50 27/3/2002)
                    MarcoF (06:23 28/3/2002)
                      Lee Johnston (08:54 28/3/2002)
                        Richard Goodwin (09:29 28/3/2002)
                          Guest (20:43 21/4/2002)
 
Guest Message #90530, posted at 16:19, 27/3/2002
Unregistered user Like I said before. First to market gets my money. After the Omega I got my fingers burnt.
I'm off to call them now...

Daniel Barron
  ^[ Log in to reply ]
 
Richard Goodwin Message #90531, posted at 16:35, 27/3/2002, in reply to message #90530
Unregistered user Be aware that this is a prerelease, so you might still have a bit of a wait until you can actually buy one. However, it's a damn sight more than I've got off Castle, and I gave them money! (well, CC details anyway). At least it shows it works.

Wonder what other cards they'll be looking at releasing once they get this one out of the way...?
  ^[ Log in to reply ]
 
Guest Message #90532, posted at 16:37, 27/3/2002, in reply to message #90531
Unregistered user The press release does say early april...thats next week!
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Richard Goodwin Message #90533, posted at 16:52, 27/3/2002, in reply to message #90532
Unregistered user Some people might be /really/ impatient though, a week's a long time (in Politics at least)!
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Mr Jake Monkeyson Message #90534, posted at 17:03, 27/3/2002, in reply to message #90533
Unregistered user I must be the only one who doesn't see networking as a big deal. Probably because I don't have a network.
  ^[ Log in to reply ]
 
Richard Goodwin Message #90535, posted at 17:17, 27/3/2002, in reply to message #90534
Unregistered user If you only have one machine used in isolation then no, it won't be that exciting. But I work in an office, in an ISP, so networking is quite important for me :)

A lot of people use their RISC OS machines in small offices, at Uni etc. so networking is an important area, although I'll admit that not everyone is quite as geeky as my friends and I - number of computers in at least double figures, web browsing from a machine in every room, central fileservers...

But then, not everyone is interested in, say, graphics, but that doesn't mean I shouldn't post about Vantage or ArtWorks or PhotoDesk does it? Put up and shut up, :monkey:boy ;)
  ^[ Log in to reply ]
 
Guest Message #90536, posted at 17:43, 27/3/2002, in reply to message #90535
Unregistered user Richard, I called and they said a card would be with me in about a week. Looks like they have them in stock. I look forward to it.
If my RiscPC has no network card, I would not be able to do 99% of the things I do with it. Like use ethernet ADSL, VPN to the NT and FreeBSD servers at work. Print to the work printers from home, use an IMAP mail server, program my Linux, etc, etc. A 100Mbit card will help a lot as I sometimes edit 20Mb files off the network and saving takes ages.
  ^[ Log in to reply ]
 
Richard Goodwin Message #90537, posted at 17:51, 27/3/2002, in reply to message #90536
Unregistered user Great!

I'm not sure, but I think there might be a metal plate missing from the pre-production ones - to tidy up the back around the socket. As there's not anything in that position on the old ANT card I could be wrong though.
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Guest Message #90538, posted at 18:36, 27/3/2002, in reply to message #90537
Unregistered user Correct Rich - there's a stainless steel plate on the release cards. We're awaiting those from the laser cutters (handy that I have friends with half million pound CNC rigs, eh?). As soon as they arrive we'll be shipping.

Stuart (Tyrrell)
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Mr Jake Monkeyson Message #90539, posted at 18:50, 27/3/2002, in reply to message #90538
Unregistered user I didn't mean my comment to sound like that as a market we shouldn't be interested in network cards! :)

When I get my Omega, maybe networking will become more important...
  ^[ Log in to reply ]
 
MarcoF Message #90540, posted at 06:23, 28/3/2002, in reply to message #90539
Unregistered user hmm, I wonder if it would do me any good to upgrade my old 10bt card for this.. since ADSL doesn't reach that anyway.. do you think it is worth it? stability, speed?
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Lee Johnston Message #90541, posted at 08:54, 28/3/2002, in reply to message #90540
Unregistered user I'm a little intrigued by the idea of writing software to "take advantage of the new speed" because I'm not entirely sure what this means. Unless the software is altering the data it actually sends / receives (ie adapting the encoding rate on a media stream to match the network capabilities) then the software probably shouldn't care too much.

As pointed out changing the buffer size in FTPc increased throughput. I suspect what is happening is that FTPc will "process" a given amount of data each time it is scheduled in. By increasing the buffer size then, if data is available on the network (which it might not have been on a slower card), it will process more data per timeslice. However FTPc itself hasn't been rewritten to take advantage of the card.

The one potential offset to this is that if FTPc does process an amount of data per poll and you increase that amount then desktop responsiveness could be reduced. At this point you're optimising for I/O as opposed to responsiveness in exactly the same way something like NT Server does over NT Workstation.

Of course this is all conjecture as I don't know how FTPc actually works.
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Richard Goodwin Message #90542, posted at 09:29, 28/3/2002, in reply to message #90541
Unregistered user About the programming for speed, all I mean is that if 500KB/sec is the maximum throughput of the existing network kit then there's no need to optimise anything to get faster speeds. I'm sure a good performance trade-off could be implemented now that bottleneck has been removed, after all, the filer can run at 2MB/sec over the network with LanMan.

And maybe FTP client X doesn't really need to give great desktop performance if it gets the file downloaded quicker, at least as an option. FTPc is supposedly slower than the Ant one anyway, I just happen to like FTPc better so that's the first thing I used to test the card.

ADSL will "only" give 55KB/sec in the UK (more if you go for a faster, more expensive option), so it doesn't come close to maxing out the new card. I can get 55KB/sec downloads in ArcWeb on an A310! It all comes down to economics - the new card is cheaper and readily available, so if you don't have a card this is a good option, if you're going to be transfering data to other machines on your own network get it, if you've already got a 10bT card and no other machines or just a few old Acorn machines then it doesn't really make sense to upgrade yet.
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Guest Message #90543, posted at 20:43, 21/4/2002, in reply to message #90542
Unregistered user Hmph! Ordered mine 3 weeks ago and its still not arrived!

Daniel Barron
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The Icon Bar: News and features: Simtec 100bT cards are out!