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If you have server systems running high-end desktop PCs and a few running smaller SQL instances.

The systems are time critical so the lower latency we can achieve the better.

As it stands we don't have a 'problem' that needs addressing, but we are looking at upping our servers' load significantly and moving all SQL instances into one dedicated machine for our database serving.

My question is basically twofold: When would it be advisable to consider moving to Intel Server NICs instead of using the on-board gigabit?

What areas could possibly benefit? (i.e.,throughput,latency?)

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closed as not constructive by Bryan, Dave M, Jacob, mdpc, Alex Jan 21 '13 at 19:01

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If you're running your servers on desktop machines,my out probably be better off overall moving the whole system to a proper server rather than worrying about any one subsystem or another –  RobM Jan 21 '13 at 7:56
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An on-board network interface is a NIC (Network Interface Controller, not card). –  John Gardeniers Jan 21 '13 at 7:58
    
@JohnGardeniers Sorry, I have corrected the ambiguous mistake. –  Vort3x Jan 21 '13 at 8:11
    
@RobM I would agree with that, but my question is specifically for the scenario where we either cannot or are not, going to be able to do that. –  Vort3x Jan 21 '13 at 8:12
    
@Vort3x I understand that, but in any scenario where the sort of marginal differences you talk about will matter (I'm assuming your 'high end desktop PCs' are coming with decent onboard NICs) then the change you talk about is pointless unless you make the other changes too. If that's not possible then my answer is "don't waste your time". Or as TomTom suggests, look at 10GBE. –  RobM Jan 21 '13 at 10:59
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up vote 4 down vote accepted

When would it be advisable to consider moving to Intel Server NICs instead of using the on- board gigabit?

???

Well, first: Normally what you call latency in SQL is irrelevant , this is not a gaming system or a financial market distribution, and the SQL side latency will be larger than the network one.

Second, that totally depends on the crappiness of your hardware. Seriously.

I have some motherboards here - both small server stuff (Micro ATX C32 Mobo) as well as gaming (Asus ROG I7) that both have high end on board NIC chips from... Intel ;) Some cheaper ones use broadcom etc - there you may have driver problems. But the Asus Rampage IV Gene, for example (which I use) is sold with "GameFirst with Intel Ethernet - The speed you need to pwn". ;) Beat that with a SUXOR server NIC - no PWNing ;) Joke aside, that is a decent network chip. Device manager identiies it as a 82577LM.

What areas could possibly benefit? (i.e.,throughput,latency?)

Latency. POSSIBLY - but it wont be something you realize on SQL Server, and it will be a theoretical gain. Throughput - well, given how fast a processor is these days, and how low the 1gbit throughput is, no. You can max it out on a tablet anyway.

Next step is a 10G intel card, around 300 USD for a dual port.

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Sidenote: move 10G. f you have more data somewhere, this is not about the data / SQL. But BACKUPS may move a LOT of data, and 10G moves that off your production server faster. I have a terabyte range inhouse small database, and backing up around 1000gb over 1g is painful. –  TomTom Jan 21 '13 at 8:17
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