I am not responsible if your devices send you back in time, explodes, implodes, bricks or flies into space from the use of any software I put up.


Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Network Adapter Properties

802.1p QOS
The "802.1p QOS" parameter is a standard that enables Quality of Service (QoS). It is responsible for the QoS provisions on the local segment, and the avoidance of the "all packets are treated equally" issue, which falls onto the hub or switch servicing segment. 802.1p QOS provides prioritization of packets traversing a subnet.
ARP offload
ARP offload is the ability of the network adapter to respond to an IPv4 ARP request without waking the computer. Both the hardware and the driver must support ARP offload to enable this feature.
Checksum Offload
Normally the TCP Checksum is computed by the protocol stack. By selecting one of the "Checksum Offload" parameters, the checksum can be computed by the Gigabit Ethernet Adapter.
"Ethernet@WireSpeed" is a parameter that enables a 1000BASE-T Ethernet adapter to establish a link at a lower speed when only two pairs of wires are available in the cable plant.
Flow Control
"Flow Control" is a parameter that allows the user to enable or disable the receipt or transmission of PAUSE frames. PAUSE frames enable the adapter and the switch to control the transmit rate. The side that is receiving the PAUSE frame temporarily stops transmitting.

This parameter can be set for each port individually, which is helpful if the port at the other end of the cable cannot handle all possible combinations. Using the default setting, the adapter should automatically detect the capabilities of the peer port.

Default value: "Tx & Rx Enabled"
Valid values:

    "Disabled" - No link partner is allowed to send PAUSE frames.
    "Tx & Rx Enabled" - Both link partners are allowed to send PAUSE frames.
Green Ethernet
Link-On and Cable Length Power Saving
Link-Down Power Saving
Interrupt Moderation
If more than the specified rate of interrupts occur, the Interrupt Moderation
function groups these interrupts so that several data packets can be handled
per interrupt. This will lead to lower CPU utilization but may increase the
IP Security (IPSec) Offload
Windows offers the ability to offload the encryption work of IPSec to the network adapter hardware. Encryption, especially 3 DES, has a very high cycles/byte ratio. Therefore, it is no surprise that offloading IPSec to the network adapter hardware has high performance yields depending on the scenario and the workload characteristics.
Jumbo MTU/Packets
"Jumbo MTU" is a parameter that allows the adapter to transmit and receive oversized Ethernet frames that are greater than 1514 bytes but less than 9000 bytes in length. Note that this parameter requires a switch that is able to process large frames. 
Large Send Offload
Normally the TCP segmentation is done by the protocol stack. By enabling the Large Send Offload value, the TCP segmentation can be done by the Gigabit Ethernet Adapter. 
Max IRQ per Sec
Specifies the interrupt rate for Interrupt Moderation. If Interrupt Moderation is set to "Off", it will be ignored.
NS offload
NS offload is the ability of the network adapter to respond to a Neighbor Discovery Neighbor Solicitation request with a Neighbor Advertisement without waking the computer. Both the hardware and the driver must support NS offload to enable this feature. 
Preferred Port
Sets the preferred port for RLMT (Redundant Link Management Technology). This port will be used for all network traffic when more than one port has an active link to the network.
Priority & VLAN
Enables/disables 802.1p (QoS) and/or 802.1q (VLAN) capability.

Default value: "Priority Enabled"
Valid values:

    "Priority Enabled"
    "VLAN Enabled"
    "Priority & VLAN Enabled"
    "Priority & VLAN Disabled"

NOTE: This will only enable the capability of the driver to handle such packets. There must be a protocol or application that passes such packets to the driver.
PXE (Preboot Execution Environment) is a software module that allows your networked computer to boot with the images provided by remote servers across the network. 
Receive Buffers
Defines the number of receive buffers allocated by the driver. If the system does not have enough resources, the driver will fail to load.
Increasing this value may improve the performance.
Receive-Side Scaling
Enables/disables balancing the receive network load from a network adapter across multiple CPUs.

Default value: "Disabled"
Valid values:


NOTE: This parameter is not available for every adapter type.

Default value: "CLS"
Valid values:

    "CLS" (Check Link State) - RLMT uses the link state reported by the adapter hardware for each individual port to determine whether a port can be used for all network traffic or not.
    "CLP" (Check Local Port) - RLMT monitors the network path between the two ports of an adapter by regularly exchanging packets between them. This mode requires a network configuration in which the two ports "see" each other (i.e., there must not be any router between the ports).
    "CLPSS" (Check Local Ports and Segmentation Status) - Supports the same functions as "CLP" mode, and additionally checks network segmentation by sending BPDU hello packets. This mode only works when Gigabit Ethernet switches are installed on the network that have been configured to use the Spanning Tree protocol.

NOTE: RLMT modes "CLP" and "CLPSS" are designed to operate in configurations where a network path between the ports on one adapter exists. Moreover, they are not designed to work where adapters are connected back-to-back. This parameter is only available for dual link adapters.

Speed & Duplex
Contains information regarding auto-negotiation, duplex capabilities, and link speed.

Valid values:

    "10 Mbps Half Duplex"
    "10 Mbps Full Duplex"
    "100 Mbps Half Duplex"
    "100 Mbps Full Duplex"
    "1000 Mbps Full Duplex"

NOTE: This parameter is not valid for fiber adapters.
Transmit Buffers
Defines the number of transmit buffers allocated by the driver. If the system does not have enough resources, the driver will fail to load. Increasing this value may improve the performance. 

Wake Up Capabilities parameter
The "Wake Up Capabilities" parameter allow the user to set the adapter to wake up from a low power mode when it receives a network wake up frame. There are two wake up frames: Magic Packet and IP frame.

WOL (Wake-On-LAN) Speed
"WOL Speed" is a parameter that allows the user to select the speed at which the adapter connects to the network during Wake-on-LAN mode.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Using Windows Performance Toolkit

I came across this forum post which details how to improve disk layout other than the runidletask command.

You need to install Windows Performance Toolkit by downloading the Windows 7 SDK. (Source).

Then run the commands under Administrative Permission (Source):
xbootmgr -trace boot -prepSystem -verboseReadyBoot
Note: This trick is for Harddisk System Drives only.

It will reboot up to 6 times and after that you should be left with a Windows 7 Installation with Optimized Disk Layout.

The best way to do this is to do it before you sleep
  1. Remove your Login Password for the night
  2. Set UAC to elevate without prompting
  3. By morning everything should be done
  4. Set Password and UAC back to the levels you are happy with
If you ask me I personally felt it worked for me to a certain extend, I will leave this here for you to try it out.

Thanks to the respective authors MagicAndre1981 from MSFN.org for sharing, there are also many other interesting tweaks to check out on the sites.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Review on Intel Atom D510MO

Found Intel Rapid Storage Controller Driver for NM10 Chipset.

Intel just release a new 5XX series firmware update for this board.
However if you are using the 3XX series firmware you need to update to the 4XX series firmware as a transitional firmware update before you can update to the latest firmware otherwise update will fail. You might like to read this before upgrading though.
Go to http://downloadcenter.intel.com/ and select Desktop Boards -> Intel NM10 Family Chipset -> D510MO.
Be sure to check out readme and read which executable is suitable for you.

Intel just updated their Rapid Storage Driver for Atom Systems it is still "NOT AVAILABLE" for D510MO but the driver which is release for the new generation Atom will work on D510MO
(Links below)

You can get the rest of the drivers from Intel Download Centre.

Recently I switch over the desktop system to an Intel Atom D510 on NM10 Chipset.
The reason was simple, the use of this system is mainly Word, PowerPoint, Internet Browsing, file Server as well as printer server so why not switch over to a energy efficient platform and save on electricity bills.
The Atom is touted to have a TDP of 13 watts, it is a dual core Processor running at 1.66GHZ with Hyperthreading enable on both Cores resulting in a total of 4 logical cores.
In comparison mainstream Intel/AMD Mobile Processors have a typical TDP of 25-35 Watts and Desktop Processors 90-130 Watt depending on processor specification.
I bought a Intel OEM version as it is the cheapest and is the reference board design.

I will not do gaming benchmarks because it is not meant for gaming at all.
Instead I will just comment on what you can expect from this simple system.

So I shall comment on the pros and cons.

1) The Chip is embedded in the board so you actually pay for a motherboard and a cpu for the price of a low end cpu quite a bargain.

2) Good responsiveness for general computing tasks.

3) Passive heatsink, there are no fans on the board so it is quiet and the heatsink is capable of dissipating heat generated by the processor but case fan must be present for proper case ventilation.

One observation I made while stress testing the cpu is that it never seems to be fully taxed so it always maintains a good responsiveness, this minimise lagging issues over the weak cpu.

4)Supports Wireless there is a PCI-E express slot for Laptop Wireless Cards (**Antenna & Card sold separately)

5)Decent Realtek High Definition Audio

6)It uses Intel EFI instead of BIOS (There is a way to OEM SLIC it if you know what I mean..)

7)Small i-ATX form factor it can fit into i-ATX, m-ATX and ATX and can take any compatible ATX power Supply.

8)SSD supported.

9)Booting the system is very fast, the Intel EFI Firmware got the system up and running very quickly.
I believe this is due to Intel Boot Optimized EFI Firmware as compared to EFI by other companies like Insyde, AMI and Phoenix.

10)You can self modify the firmware by using Intel Integrator Assistant

Now for the cons.

1)2 SATA ports isn't enough IMO they should include 4. If you have 4 hard drives and is contemplating switching to an Intel Atom platform you can consider buying Atom Boards from OEMs like ASUS, MSI and Gigabyte as most will have more than 2 SATA Ports.

2)Normal Quality Capacitors, the Intel Reference board uses normal capacitors but offerings from other OEMs especially Gigabyte will include solid capacitors.

3)Maximium Flash Rendering up to 720p only on Youtube. At 1080p frame drops occur on Adobe Flash 10.1. I made sure I got the latest driver for Intel 3150 and it supposedly support HD Decoding but well you are still limited to 720p not the highest but good enough for me.

Following Updated Flash Plugins and Latest Intel Graphics Driver for D510MO it is capable of rendering 1080p movies. The test is to run Big Buck Bunny 1080p definition and observing the processor utilization.
Older Flash Plugins and Drivers tend to saturate the it to 100% utilization while updates enabled it to render without hitting 100% utilization. There are very little observable frame drops.

If you desperately need HD Capabilites go for an OEM ION Offering instead.

4)Support only Single Channel DDR2 but it isn't suppose to be a performer so memory frequency shouldn't matter much.

5)Legacy I/O Ports like Parallel and Serial Ports are removed although there are pin outs available on the Mainboard you can plug them into.

In conclusion this is a good board for its intended purpose of cost and energy savings.

It will do well for most computing task except Flash Movies played in the  Highest Definition and PC gaming.

Some more details you don't find on the packaging:
1) ICH-7 AHCI SATA Controller (SouthBridge Controller).
2) Intel GMA 3150
3) Realtek RTL8165/8111 PCI-E Gigabit Ethernet Adapter
4) Realtek ALC662 High Definition Audio
5) Intel 82801 GBM ICH-7M

Drivers for the D510MO Storage Driver actually exist. You just need to find Netbooks using the NM10 Chipset and use their corresponding  32bit AHCI Driver or 64bit AHCI Driver.(Older Version because Acer stopped releasing Windows 7 Intel Atom Netbooks supporting 64bit).

Intel Rapid Storage Version 10 for 32/64bit AHCI Driver From Intel
(Both x64/x86 binaries can be found in the file):