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 Post subject: Gigabit network, 100BaseT speeds
 Post Posted: Wed Aug 05, 2009 11:06 pm 
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Scott,

I am dealing with a network of 6 older IBM laptops running XP SP3, two extremely high-performance Windows 2003 servers, two GB switches (1 Linksys 5-port GB switch that the two servers are connected to, and one brand-new SMC 24-port GB switch that all other devices connect to, and a single ethernet line between the two switches), and 2 100BaseT printers. All computers on the network show 1 GB link speeds.

We upgraded to these GB switches and set all laptop and server NICs to autonegotiate, 1 GB speeds, but we are still seeing sub-100BaseT speeds.

To rule out a possible cabling problem we took one laptop and put it in the server room and connected it with a short Cat 5e cable to the Linksys 5-port GB switch, which is connected to the Windows 2003 servers also with short Cat 5e cables - so the communications path here is VERY short and simple and limited to only one switch. But, we did file copy tests (both directions) and still had disappointing speeds - no change.

"netstat -s" showed only a handful of TCP retransmits so that wasn't the problem.

Is there anything obvious to you that we have overlooked? I don't think we could be maxing out on the disk speeds on the laptops - surely they can read faster than 100 megabits per second.

I checked my copy of your book, "Upgrading and Repairing Microsoft Windows" but didn't see anything applicable to this situation.

Is there a good shareware or freeware diagnostic tool that you recommend we use?

Thanks,
Ed


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 Post subject: Re: Gigabit network, 100BaseT speeds
 Post Posted: Thu Aug 06, 2009 6:01 pm 
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Scott,

In the meantime after my posting my post, we discovered the reason for the apparent slowness of file transfers over the GB network - the laptops' disk read rate was only about 8 MB/sec on average, not enough to even max out a 100BaseT network. I made an assumption and it sort of bit me.

Nonetheless, they should theoretically see increases in ODBC data transfer rates (laptop to server) as that is app-to-app, not disk-to-disk. Another advantage is that when they upgrade to newer laptops they'll have a GB network in place. The new GB switch won't be a waste.

Thanks,
Ed


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 Post subject: Re: Gigabit network, 100BaseT speeds
 Post Posted: Thu Aug 06, 2009 8:44 pm 
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Quote:
...the laptops' disk read rate was only about 8 MB/sec on average...

Wow, that is a pretty serious problem all by itself. <g> How did you measure that exactly? Once that problem is corrected, you can figure out if the network performance is up to snuff. Scott.


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 Post subject: Re: Gigabit network, 100BaseT speeds
 Post Posted: Thu Aug 06, 2009 8:54 pm 
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Scott,

I used HD Tune's benchmark function.

The problem is not correctable - the laptops are old and that's their drives' rated speed. I wish I had thought to check that aspect out first before saying that they will see a big increase in network throughput.

Nonetheless, they are still happy they upgraded their network as it now gives them justification to get rid of those 6 or 7 year-old jalopies.

Thanks,
Ed


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 Post subject: Re: Gigabit network, 100BaseT speeds
 Post Posted: Thu Aug 06, 2009 9:18 pm 
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What systems are they exactly? I can't imagine anything with a drive that slow would have gigabit ethernet built-in anyway, and there are no satisfactory USB or PC-Card gigabit cards, as they all work at 100Mbit speeds anyway. Scott.


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 Post subject: Re: Gigabit network, 100BaseT speeds
 Post Posted: Thu Aug 06, 2009 9:37 pm 
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I'm not at my workdesk, so I can't actually read the IBM ThinkPad's model number stamped on it, but I have its manual in my briefcase here and it says it is a T23. I'm pretty sure this is correct.

http://tinyurl.com/yoo86r

The specs page above says it has a 10/100 Ethernet NIC. However, ours have Intel Pro/1000 MT NICs in them, and this NIC does have a "Auto-negotiate 1000Mbps" setting under "Link Speed and Duplex".

We tested several today and they all got the same disk read benchmarks, so it's not like one of them is malfunctioning.

They all run Sophos A/V and Checkpoint encryption software which seriously bogs them down. This may be affecting the drives' performance but I didn't investigate that as these two pieces of software are mandatory so there's no point.

Ed


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 Post subject: Re: Gigabit network, 100BaseT speeds
 Post Posted: Thu Aug 06, 2009 10:00 pm 
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They don't have Intel Pro/1000 MT NICs "in" them, as they only have 10/100Mbit built-in. Perhaps you mean they have that type of PCI card in a full dock? But back to the hard drives, I'm pretty sure those systems should have better hard drive performance. Let me know exactly what make/model drive is installed (Device Manager or even HD Tune will tell you that), and from the specs I can tell how it *should* be performing. Scott.


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 Post subject: Re: Gigabit network, 100BaseT speeds
 Post Posted: Thu Aug 06, 2009 10:10 pm 
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I can attest that they definitely do have Intel Pro/1000 NICs built into them. Perhaps these laptops are a later revision, or that the manual I have does not match the laptops. There are no PCI cards in any of them, and they are not in docks.

I will definitely find out the model of the laptops, and find out the make/model of the drives and let you know.

Thanks!


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 Post subject: Re: Gigabit network, 100BaseT speeds
 Post Posted: Thu Aug 06, 2009 11:14 pm 
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Are you sure those are T23s? *None* of the T23 models came with integrated gigabit Ethernet, I'm afraid they only came with 10/100. ThinkPad T23 models used the Intel 82562ET chip on a Mobile Audio/Modem Daughter Card, the interface for which wouldn't support gigE speeds anyway. The timeline doesn't work out either - the last T23 models were released in August 2002, and yet the first mobile gigE chip from Intel was the 82540EP, which wasn't even *announced* until a month later, and which didn't appear in ThinkPads until 6 months after that (March 2003), when the first T40 models were introduced. To clear this up once and for all: What Ethernet chip is present in those systems? The chipset doesn't lie. <g> Scott.


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 Post subject: Re: Gigabit network, 100BaseT speeds
 Post Posted: Fri Aug 07, 2009 8:42 am 
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Ed,

What Scott is trying to tell you nicely is that you're attesting to being wrong. <g>
If Scott says no gigabit, you should just concur. "Always" concur with The Mueller!

Mike.


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 Post subject: Re: Gigabit network, 100BaseT speeds
 Post Posted: Fri Aug 07, 2009 8:58 am 
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Mike,

Thanks for the info. This issue is getting somewhat sidetracked. I've already said that I'm not sure of the laptop's model number and when I determine that I will report it. They're probably not T23s.

I DO know, WHATEVER MODEL LAPTOPS THEY ARE, that they have gigabit-capable NICs. It reads "Intel Pro/1000 MT" in device manager, there is a drop-down setting for "Autonegotiate 1000 Mbps" and they are set to it, and task manager reports the link speeds are at 1 Gbps.


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 Post subject: Re: Gigabit network, 100BaseT speeds
 Post Posted: Fri Aug 07, 2009 9:27 am 
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Okay Ed,

So far what you're saying is 2+2=7. IF they have integrated gigabit networking then they date from 2003 or later, and the hard drives should be AT LEAST 3 times faster than what you're reporting, most likely more.
What you're saying just doesn't add up. System make/model? HDD make/model? Ethernet chip make/model? Only with real data can we be sure what's going on.

Please don't leave us hanging on this one...

Thanks,
Mike


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 Post subject: Re: Gigabit network, 100BaseT speeds
 Post Posted: Fri Aug 07, 2009 9:50 am 
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I'll place a call into work to get this info as quickly as possible for you as I'm working from home today, but I'm not sure where to tell them to find the ethernet chip make/model.


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 Post subject: Re: Gigabit network, 100BaseT speeds
 Post Posted: Fri Aug 07, 2009 9:55 am 
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Ed,

The best start without you having the system is the model, ie T23, T30, T40, T42...
The full model/sub-model number (i.e. T40-XXXX-YYY) from the sticker on the bottom would be very helpful as well.

Should be pretty easy for someone to give you that information. I know how it is when trying to get info out of the people you are supporting.

Thanks,
Mike


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 Post subject: Re: Gigabit network, 100BaseT speeds
 Post Posted: Fri Aug 07, 2009 10:31 am 
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Here's what we have:

IBM ThinkPad T42
Disk drive is MHT2040AH

Does this make more sense? Sorry I mentioned that I thought the laptop model was something else and got the thread sidetracked. I should have just said that I'll find out the model number and let you know...

That's all the info they gave to me via email, and they're apparently not answering their phones right now. Hope this is sufficient.

Thanks,
Ed


Last edited by twosteppin_ed on Fri Aug 07, 2009 10:37 am, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Gigabit network, 100BaseT speeds
 Post Posted: Fri Aug 07, 2009 10:34 am 
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did you try cat6e cable?


Last edited by cyberghost on Fri Aug 07, 2009 10:50 am, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Gigabit network, 100BaseT speeds
 Post Posted: Fri Aug 07, 2009 10:38 am 
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...because it's part of my job <g>.


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 Post subject: Re: Gigabit network, 100BaseT speeds
 Post Posted: Fri Aug 07, 2009 11:02 am 
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cyberghost wrote:
did you try cat6e cable?


No, we used 5e, and 5e will handle GB just fine in the short lengths that we tested with. It was about 5 feet.


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 Post subject: Re: Gigabit network, 100BaseT speeds
 Post Posted: Fri Aug 07, 2009 12:23 pm 
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Quote:
Here's what we have: IBM ThinkPad T42 Disk drive is MHT2040AH

The T42 models were first released in May 2004, with the last models released in Nov. 2005. All T42 models included on-board Intel 82540EP gigabit Ethernet.

The Fujitsu MHT2040AH is a 40GB 5400rpm drive that was considered relatively fast for its time. According to the product manual it has a maximum media transfer rate of 55.4 MBps. That would be for the outer zone, and since the inner zone transfer rate is roughly half that of the outer zone, that would mean the drive should have a minimum transfer rate of about 27.7 MBps, and an average rate of about 41.5 MBps.

OK, so I'm pretty sure that the network is fine, but the hard drives?, not so much. <g> Obviously there is some sort of serious problem or configuration issue if you are only seeing 8 MBps. Most of the time that would be caused by improper settings in the BIOS Setup, but before going there, I'd start by updating the embedded controller firmware, then the motherboard BIOS, and finally the HDD firmware.

Once those are all up to date, I'd investigate the T42 BIOS Setup settings. From the main BIOS Setup menu, select Config, then Network, where you will find a setting for "Hard Drive Direct Memory Access (DMA)" (it is weird that it is found under "Network"), make sure that setting is Enabled. You could also hit the F9 key at the main menu, which would reset everything to factory defaults (if that setting was incorrect, maybe others are wrong as well).

Bottom line: My guess is that the three firmware updates plus enabling DMA in the BIOS Setup should solve the HDD problem. However, if those suggestions don't fix the HDD problem, then the drive should be replaced (8 MBps is simply unacceptable). If a replacement drive doesn't help, then most likely there are motherboard problems. Let me know how the story ends... Scott.


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 Post subject: Re: Gigabit network, 100BaseT speeds
 Post Posted: Fri Aug 07, 2009 1:13 pm 
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get another brand of latop computer and hook it up the network if that works then you'll know it is the IBM notebooks computers then do what scott said.


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 Post subject: Re: Gigabit network, 100BaseT speeds
 Post Posted: Fri Aug 07, 2009 1:19 pm 
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Cyberghost,

Thank you for the suggestion. Will do.

Scott,

Thank you for this great information. Performing these tasks involve some risk so it will be necessary to use a spare and not a production laptop. I believe that there is one available, and since they're all behaving in the same manner the spare will be representative. I have informed them of this and am awaiting a response. I will let you know of the outcome.

Thank you again for your detailed research and response.

Ed


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 Post subject: Re: Gigabit network, 100BaseT speeds
 Post Posted: Fri Aug 07, 2009 9:17 pm 
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That is some great detective work Scott!

A good suggestion cyberghost.

A good plan twosteppin_ed. But man, if they go for new laptops and they should, suggest they then go to a replace 1/3rd of their computers every year cycle. 7 year old laptops? Ouch!


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 Post subject: Re: Gigabit network, 100BaseT speeds
 Post Posted: Fri Aug 07, 2009 11:36 pm 
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Ouch? You're kidding, right? Those T42s are only 4 to 5 years old, as they date from 2004-2005. In addition as they were premium models then, they would actually be comparable with more conventional systems a year or so newer. They have integrated gigE (many modern laptops don't even have that), are built like a tank, and run XP extremely well. In a business environment they easily have a couple more years of good service life left.

Bottom line: In this economy there is no way those systems should be retired, unless perhaps you are offering a "cash for clunkers" deal and are willing to pay to put them down. <g> Scott.


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 Post subject: Re: Gigabit network, 100BaseT speeds
 Post Posted: Wed Aug 12, 2009 12:17 pm 
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Here's an update.

Before proceeding with re-flashing the BIOS or updating drivers and firmware, they tested a quite-new corporate-configured ThinkPad T61 that just arrived and it turned up the SAME issues: The disk drive was only operating at about 12 GBps when it should have been averaging about 37 GBps, based on HD Tune results reported on the web for this model. The CPU usage during the test was showing an average of 40% when it should have been showing about 5%.

The HD Tune throughput graphs SHOULD all show a performance slope for these drives (higher at the beginning, lower at the end), but on all these laptops the graph was basically a straight line. We are suspecting that the CheckPoint disk-encryption software that is installed on all of these machines is causing this clamping and seriously degrading the disk performance of these machines.

Because of seriousness of this discovery, they are quite upset, have stopped their own troubleshooting, and have turned the issue over to corporate IT to resolve. I have recommended that they uninstall CheckPoint on a test laptop (which involves a decryption process) and continue testing, and if that turned up nothing to proceed with BIOS, driver, and firmware updates, but they said that this is now in the hands of corporate IT.

I obviously cannot force their decision. This will take some time to play out and I will update you on the outcome.

Thank you for all of your valuable input.


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 Post subject: Re: Gigabit network, 100BaseT speeds
 Post Posted: Wed Aug 12, 2009 3:51 pm 
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Quote:
We are suspecting that the CheckPoint disk-encryption software that is installed on all of these machines is causing this clamping and seriously degrading the disk performance of these machines.

I agree completely, and apparently so does Check Point, as evidenced by the following Whitepaper:


Note how they try to spin-doctor the results, stating that "Full-disk encryption testing shows no performance difference from systems without encryption", while including graphs that show a 22% drop in sequential read performance on a desktop system (Fig. 6), and a whopping 66% drop in performance on a laptop (Fig. 7)! The latter drops from 23.8 MBps down to 8 MBps, very close to the reduction in performance you were seeing on the T42 systems. In addition, those tests were done under W2K, systems running XP or Vista would likely see further performance reductions due to the additional CPU and memory usage of those OS.

"No performance difference" indeed. There were so many bogons coming off that thing, the resulting bogon flux totally pinned the needle on my bogometer! Whoever wrote that paper would have a great future in politics. <g> Scott.


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 Post subject: Re: Gigabit network, 100BaseT speeds
 Post Posted: Wed Aug 12, 2009 9:21 pm 
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Thank you, Scott.

Wow! What a snow job. I guess they were hoping the white paper would just be scanned by management and that they would miss the details.

I have passed along your information.

Great job on this. I appreciate your efforts.

Ed


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