Subject: Re: packet capturing
To: Thor Lancelot Simon <>
From: Manuel Bouyer <>
List: tech-kern
Date: 01/24/2004 19:33:05
On Fri, Jan 23, 2004 at 04:30:36PM -0500, Thor Lancelot Simon wrote:
> On Fri, Jan 23, 2004 at 09:33:15PM +0100, Manuel Bouyer wrote:
> > On Thu, Jan 22, 2004 at 09:05:32AM -0800, Jason Thorpe wrote:
> > > [...]
> > > Regarding 4-port 10/100 boards, D-Link may still have the DFE-570TX 
> > 
> > No, it was remplaced with the DFE-580TX, using Sundance ST-201 chips instead
> > of tulip. Theses are crap, the PCI/PCI bridge can't handle the load of
> > moderate load on 2 of the 4 interfaces at the same time. The receive buffer
> > on chip is only 2k, which means it can't handle more than 1 full ethernet
> > frame at once.
> It's my impression that there are two general design philosophies for
> network interface chips:
> 1) "Buffer many packets, trickle them out to memory as necessary"
> 2) "Buffer almost nothing, rely on bursting packets into host memory before
>    the buffer fills".  These often even start DMA before they've got the
>    entire packet off the wire, or try to anyway.
> The thing is, *if the assumptions about bus contention made by the chip's
> designers are true*, designs of type 2 can actually perform better than
> designs of type 1.  Unfortunately, they're seldom true.  In particular,
> with early PCI-PCI bridges, the devices behind them can't burst, so one
> of the key assumptions about how fast data can get to host memory is 
> false.

I think with the DFE580-TX we fall in this case.

>  Or there may not be the same number of descriptors configured to
> DMA to as the designers assumed there would be, when they modelled the
> chip's performance, causing stalls for that reason.  Or something that
> has a higher latency timer value may suck up the whole bus.  Or... well,
> you get the idea.

I think this design can't work when multipe devices on the bus behaves this

> It seems to me if you're going to put a pile of network interface chips
> behind a PCI-PCI bridge (meaning they all share one latency-timer's worth
> of bursting on the primary bus, as I understand it, or sometimes can't
> burst at all) you'd better make sure they're type 1 ("buffer a lot of
> stuff and trickle it out") and that their buffering is set up 
> appropriately.  For example, the current crop of Marvell "sk" chips can
> be configured for "store and forward" or for "cut-through", even though
> they do have a semi-decent amount of buffering on them (128K).  If you
> configure them for cut-through, and they're behind a PCI-PCI bridge,
> they perform *terribly*.  This isn't a badly-designed chip, but it _is_
> a chip whose design requires the driver to set it up differently depending
> on some facts about the bus it's on.

Sure. I tried various things with the ste driver, but with only 2k of
on-chip memory, you can't do much ...

Manuel Bouyer <>
     NetBSD: 26 ans d'experience feront toujours la difference