Gigabyte GN-LC05 PCI-Express Gigabit Ethernet Adapter
Now we take a look at the first product of its type available to the retail market. PCI Express has now started to become the standard interface for the PC, and with PCI Express bus slots on the motherboard becoming more common, it is logical that peripherals will start to show up. Today Gigabyte has its first PCI Express product available. The LC-05 is a PCI Express x1 Network Interface Card (NIC). This card uses a dedicated PCI Express based chipset with onboard 24K cache memory for network traffic storage.
On the back the LC-05 resembles a standard LAN card with a single RJ-45 port. In order to run Gigabit Ethernet you will need to use CAT5-E or CAT6 Ethernet cable for optimal signal quality over longer distances.
On the back there is also 3 LED's - the first one furthest from the LAN plug is the link light. This light lights up to indicate that the system has detected a cable and blinks when traffic is active on the cable. The next LED lights up if you have a 10mbps connection and the final LED is a dual colour LED. The LED lights up Green when a 100mbps connection is detected and amber when a 1000mbps connection is detected. While simple, this feature is very useful when initially setting up the network and working out what speed connection has been established.
Under the Heatsink is the controller chip. Gigabyte has chosen the Broadcom NetXtreme PCI-E Gigabit Ethernet chip.
Transfer Rate Tests
In these tests we compared the overall transfer rates of the LC05 to an onboard PCI based Gigabit and onboard PCI-E Gigabit as well as tested the CPU usage.
We can see the PCI solution falls behind in both overall transfer rate as well as CPU usage. This is because a much higher load is being put onto the aging PCI bus, which requires more CPU cycles to compile the data, where as PCI-E has its own dedicated links.
When at 100mbps all three are equal as the PCI bus is able to keep up with 100mbps.