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We have a 1U server (ASUS RS300-E6/PS4, running Ubuntu 10.04) that sits between the outside world and a 24-port gigabit switch for our intranet to serve as the firewall/DHCP/apache server. The server has 2 network adapters on board (Intel 82574L chip) so it is doing the job just fine. We also have a spare dual-port network adapter (Intel Gigabit ET, w/ Intel 82576 chip) on hand now and I am wondering if using this card will provide better performance? Is there an easy way to run some benchmark tests?

In addition, if we put the card in and set up bonding, what will be the best way to do it? To clarify, the main reason is to provide failover, not to gain performance. Should I bond the 2 ports on the PCI card together or 1 built-in plus 1 on the PCI card?

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Not for performance, but that extra NIC could come in handy for a DMZ network, should you ever need to run a Web/Mail server isolated from your trusted LAN network. –  gravyface Jan 19 '11 at 15:45
    
the main reason to set up bonding is mainly to provide failover, I've edited the question to clarify that. Also the server runs apache for a semi-public wiki site. We don't have the need to set up a DMZ yet. –  chkuo Jan 19 '11 at 17:06

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I wouldn't expect much performance increase either way as far as onboard vs builtin. Since this is only Internet to LAN (not multiple LANs) then you would have to pushing near gigabit bandwidth out of your Internet connection before you see any performance advantage from bonding.

So unless you are near that sort of load there is no point in setting up bonding for anything other than failover.

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Thanks. Still curious about how to compare the NICs. I thought the Intel 82576 is supposed to perform better with all the fancy features (or those are simply marketing gimmicks?) –  chkuo Jan 19 '11 at 17:12
    
The devil is in the detail: if the drivers for your platform are not optimal, or your motherboard has a high priority implementation of hooking up the built-in LAN ports to the system bus, etc.. that kind of thing will often determine the performance, not the NIC's chipset. –  DutchUncle Jan 19 '11 at 19:41
    
There are various offload features that will enhance performance. You can often get much better performance in Windows by getting the driver up to date. However, this stuff generally falls in high latency / high throughput situations. If this is just to run a fairly low traffic website or an office it may really not matter. My point is that you might be optimizing something that doesn't really need to be optimized. –  Kyle Brandt Jan 19 '11 at 19:47
    
Now I got it, thanks! –  chkuo Jan 20 '11 at 11:32

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