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Wired Giganet performace problem and discussion related to onboard audio

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Hi guys, I built a freenas box last month. I use an intel pci-e giga NIC and a intel pci giga nic(vlan on this one) on it and connect it via a netgear GS724AT switch to my other computers.
I have one system build w/ Vista Ultimate 32bit/4G mem/E6750 on a ASUS P5K PREMIUM/WIFI-AP. The NICs on this build are onboard marvell 88E8056 NIC(I think this one is on Pci-e bus) and another marvell 88E8053 pci-e NIC from rosewill. There is also an onboard Pci bus realtek giga nic, but I disabled it.

Iperf is used to test the i/o between my systems and I always get a number around 200~250Mbit/s.
I tried almost everything I can, use better cables, Jumbo Frames, disable flow control, other nic drivers etc...and nothing better.

Today, I suddenly get an test result of 980M/s and I really checked everything carefully and found the only different thing is I am not listening to mp3s via foobar today.
I tried to run foobar and I get the old 200M/s. After I close the foobar, the 980M/s is back. WMP and winamp are also tried and get basically the same 200Mb/s happened.
This result applies to both two marvell nic on pci-e bus(I have not test the onboard realtek giga NIC on PCI bus)

So here may be the key. When the onboard audio chip(damn from realtek again) is working, the performance of NIC will drop significantly. Simply use the networking monitor in Vista's Windows Task Manager and you will see when Foobar starts the Network Utilization will drop from 100% to 20%. I think this may due to the audio chip occupied some system bus resources, but not sure what kind of resources is taken by it. I think this is not due to the cpu usage anyway.

In this case, I am thinking about such an situation. If I keep my videos/musics on my NAS and use a software to play them on my desktop simply via the samba, the i/o of the network will drop down to around 200Mb/s due to the audio chip. This is still pretty much enough for most common videos(I am not sure if it is enough for HD stuffs), but any other file sharing stuffs will stuck(e.g. WHS backup) I do not want to wait while I am copying files, but I also do not want to stop the music for the file sharing.

Is there anyone found something similar to my issue? What kind of thing I can do to optimize this to get a better network performance while playing musics?
Will a separate soundcard be helpful(a creative X-Fi maybe?)

Thanks for any idea

Merry X'mas and Happy New Year
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I am not sure if I am right but I am thinking about this issue may due to the limited IRQ resources of a computer?
I think there is no way for the computer to consume 800MB/s to play mp3s.
May be it is that when you listen to MP3 over the network, you cause the drive on the other computer to seek for the MP3 file, and at the same time to read or write the other files you transfer - hence doing two file reads on different disk areas at the same time?
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jraynorlxx, this is a known issue with Vista -- search around for network performance under Vista during multi-media playback, and you'll find more on the subject. The issue arises because Vista tries to ensure that multi-media playback will not be impacted by resources going to network transfers, and has been lessened to some degree with subsequent patches. I'm not up on the details myself, so can't advise you on that off the bat, hence the suggestion for searching.
Your problem is related to how Vista deals with audio or video being played while network transfers are in progress. Please take a look at this ... http://support.microsoft.com/kb/948066

From what I have read two registry entries mainly control the throttling of network packets when media is being played. The first is listed in the article I linked to. The other is in the same registry location. From my understanding it controls what percentage of the CPU resources the network is allowed to use when media is played. I have changed the NetworkThrottlingIndex to ffffffff (hex) and the SystemResponsiveness to 50 (decimal).

So far with the two registry changes I mentioned I have not ran into any problems with media playback while also transferring large amounts of data across the network. Network transfer speeds are usually 80-100 MB/sec.

Just remember that this throttling mechanism is in place to ensure all media playback or recording does not have any problems. Basically if you are intending to watch a HD movie and transfer files across the network at 100 MB/sec on a computer with the registry changes I have, you MIGHT have some hiccups.

Let me know if that helps.

Thank for the reply!

I tried 00Roush's way and it really works. Now I can have fast file sharing (around 40MB/s get doubled than before)while I am listening to my mp3s. I also do notice that my WHS backup is much faster than before.
I think I will not do file sharing while watching HD stuffs so this settings should be fine in most cases.
Thanks again.
Glad that worked for you.

On a side note I was wondering what setup you are running in your Freenas machine and also your Vista machine. I only ask because 40 MB/sec seems a bit low to me for a recent computer.

Hi, there might be several points playing around their.
1st, I did not really do a test in a clean system without any other software load. I am not some people spend time to test a unrealistic result. Closing all the service and software to get a crazy number in a test software.
The 40MB/s is just a ftp and samba file copying numbers shown up when I am using my computer doing other stuffs. I am pretty much okay with that.
Another reason may due to the HDDs and the HDD controller on the FreeNAS. I am not rich enough to buy those enterprise level seagate HDDs but I still use most of them 7X24 without rest. This may cause some aging issue. Also, no defragment. Another point may be the VIA HDD controller on the motherboard of the FreeNAS. I noticed a so-so performance of it when I had a Win XP on it (around 45~50MB/s for my seagate 7200rpm HDDs with 32MB cache in HDTune) Also there is no raid setup on it to speed things up.
Anyway, I am pretty much fine with the 40MB number not too bad and enough for me so far.
Thanks again and happy new year.

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