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Bigfoot Networks Xeno Pro  (Source: Bigfoot Networks)
Bigfoot Networks is back with new network card for gamers

There are a myriad of different products that are aimed at the PC gamer from computer mice to keyboards and headphones; if you can think of a peripheral there is probably a version for the gamer.

Back in 2006 when Bigfoot Networks first announced a network card for gamers called the Killer NIC, the product was viewed with a very skeptical eye by most gamers. Exactly how a network card could improve the gaming experience was a question of debate.

Bigfoot Networks has announced a new second-generation network card for gamers. The new network card is called the Killer Xeno and will be first distributed by Alienware and EVGA. Alienware will bundle the network card into some of its high-end gaming desktops while EVGA will sell the card as an add-in product for compatible systems.

The Xeno offers more memory, an updated network processing unit, and integrated audio hardware for accelerated voice-chat. The voice hardware promises to allow gamers to use chat applications in game without the frequent stuttering and other issues with voice quality.

Killer Networks says that Alienware will be the first PC maker to offer the Killer Xeno Pro card as an exclusive option. Alienware's Frank Azor said in a statement, "The worldwide online gaming market is rapidly growing, and with more gaming customers come more customer requests, demands and needs. Alienware works to stay ahead of the curve and Bigfoot Networks helps us do this. The Bigfoot Networks' Killer Xeno gives us the proven technology needed to guarantee customers' ultimate online gaming experience."

EVGA has the exclusive rights to distribute the Killer Xeno as an add-in card under the EVGA brand. EVGA's Andrew Han Said, "EVGA, from the beginning, has embraced intelligent innovation and leadership within our product philosophy. By partnering with Bigfoot Networks, EVGA can now offer the Killer Xeno Pro to members of the VGA community. In particular, this new product will greatly improve the immersive experience and competitive edge for online gamers. Addressing our customers' real-time networking needs and empowering them with new products is made possible with Bigfoot's Killer Xeno technology."

The Killer Xeno cards fit into PCIe slots on the mainboard and the integrated network processing unit claims to ensure the delivery of time-sensitive data like game control and VoIP packets. The device bypasses the Windows network stack for direct to game interrupts. The Ultra model has 256MB of RAM onboard and the Pro model has 128MB of RAM to enable firewall, chat, and bandwidth control to run simultaneously.

The product prioritizes network traffic for each application by setting bandwidth priorities and limits with a simple interface. The Xeno Ultra has a customizable LED display for caller ID, network statistics, and game information. Users can also program custom messages to give their gaming rig a bit more bling.

The Killer Xeno Pro will be available from Alienware and EVGA for $129.99 in April 2009. The Killer Xeno Ultra will ship in May from other leading partners for $179.99.



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Waste of money
By the goat on 3/23/2009 11:11:01 AM , Rating: 3
There is a sucker born every minuet.




RE: Waste of money
By mmntech on 3/23/2009 11:13:01 AM , Rating: 5
I'm shocked. If they're making a new one, that means someone must have bought the original Killer NIC. :p


RE: Waste of money
By Ryanman on 3/24/2009 9:24:51 AM , Rating: 1
The NIC actually does work... in certain conditions.
A number of reputable review sites have shown decent framerate increases. It's the same as getting a higher-tier videocard/processor or (in the old days) a sound card.

But, as a lot of people have pointed out, you pretty much have to be hooked up to your cable modem directly with no router to see ping drop at all. How many people are still on wired connections with only one computer is debateable.

Not saying it's a great deal, far from it. But it's an add on card that does more than the Physx ones ever did. And god knows Alienware somehow pushes these parts to their consumers in decent volumes.


RE: Waste of money
By SSDMaster on 3/24/2009 10:03:56 AM , Rating: 2
lol that's silly.
Your router is just another hop.
I have my Router running DDWRT and I bridged it with my other router. So I've got a wireless connection that's rather stable, hooked up to my router, cable modem, INTERNET.

And I still get a measurable ping drop. Its not really all about ping though. Getting around Microsoft's networking stack is where you see the better networking performance. That's also the only reason FPS is increased. It takes less cycles for the packets to be injected into the code (using bigfoots terminology don't shoot me).


RE: Waste of money
By Ryanman on 3/25/2009 12:33:01 PM , Rating: 2
Agreed, however I've seen a couple reviews where "in" ping increased, thanks to hardware offloading.

I'm saying the card's a wired one.... if you're using a wifi card, how could the hardware do anything except bypass the Windows stack? You'd have to have a wired connection, directly to your modem, to see if the hardware did anything more for you. Which is basically what I said above : )


RE: Waste of money
By Gul Westfale on 3/23/2009 11:44:43 AM , Rating: 3
suckers, indeed. my traffic still has to go trough the ROUTER (laptop, PS3 and archos 5 share the connection), so a "better" network card isn't gonna do shit for me...


RE: Waste of money
By Mitch101 on 3/23/2009 12:59:31 PM , Rating: 2
True but this sounds like it has QOS for the nic.
quote:
The product prioritizes network traffic for each application by setting bandwidth priorities and limits with a simple interface.


This could potentially add a frame to framerate.
quote:
and integrated audio hardware for accelerated voice-chat.

The real answer is wouldn't my $129-$179.00 be better spent on a faster video card or cpu?


RE: Waste of money
By omnicronx on 3/23/2009 1:36:36 PM , Rating: 3
quote:
True but this sounds like it has QOS for the nic.
But how much bandwidth do online games need in the first place? The reason network cards with QOS capabilities are usually reserved for the server market is because they are utterly useless for 99% of Home PC usage. You want better in game performance, stop downloading from itunes, while streaming music from your PC, while downloading porn in the background and save yourself the 100-150 dollars.


RE: Waste of money
By abscoder on 3/23/2009 1:58:56 PM , Rating: 5
Stop downloading porn?! Alright... Let's all calm down... Let's relax and be reasonable here...


RE: Waste of money
By Jedi2155 on 3/23/2009 4:40:08 PM , Rating: 2
What if I want to do all that at the same time :O. My time is very precious to me afterall


RE: Waste of money
By someguy123 on 3/23/2009 8:50:13 PM , Rating: 2
pretty much. if you have 129$ to spend on a freaking NIC card, your computer is probably already fast enough to handle anything you throw at it. QoS isn't going to make a difference if you're downloading 90 songs while streaming a movie and playing TF2 and WoW at the same time.


RE: Waste of money
By DJMiggy on 3/24/2009 12:07:11 AM , Rating: 2
That's ignorant...


RE: Waste of money
By SSDMaster on 3/24/2009 8:29:26 AM , Rating: 2
I don't see how you could play TF2 and WoW... But QoS would probably help in that scenario otherwise. Unless your trying to say that your Network connection can't handle that.

I'd suggest getting FIOS.


RE: Waste of money
By Motoman on 3/23/2009 3:47:36 PM , Rating: 2
That's what I point out to people that mention the idea of purchasing such things...

At my house, for example, if I am gaming on the HTPC, from the computer out there is a small hub, then in-wall wiring, then a larger switch, then the DSL modem, then a couple hundred feet of phone line, then the phone junction box, and then it goes someplace.

I find it ridiculously unlikely that the amount of time that could be saved at the PC itself is going to make any difference at all compared to the rest of the stuff involved for any given internet transaction.

There's a tiny chance, maybe, that if you had a gaming center with a wad of PCs all directly hooked to one and only one router, playing LAN games, then maybe you'd see a small difference. But if every PC on the LAN has the same NIC, what difference does it make?


RE: Waste of money
By theapparition on 3/23/2009 12:23:19 PM , Rating: 2
Keep in mind these are the same suckers buying overpriced Alienware hardware. Does that really surprise you?


RE: Waste of money
By SSDMaster on 3/23/2009 4:26:37 PM , Rating: 1
It has a UDP offloading engine.
No other networking card has this, only TCP offloading.
Game packets are in UDP primarily.
It also bypasses the windows networking stack, which gives you some minimal benefits in XP, but helps alot more in Vista where the networking stack is optimized for throughput, not latency.

I have used the old card and it did make a 15% ping difference, and overall more stable ping.
If you want better framerates buy a better graphics card.
If you want lower pings/more stable connection buy a networking card.

Not sure what this "money better spent" argument is about...
There's only 1 company that makes a UDP offloading networking processor.


RE: Waste of money
By afkrotch on 3/23/2009 9:03:46 PM , Rating: 4
FYI, it's TCP/IP offload engine. It offloads the whole TCP/IP stack. Guess what's part of the TCP/IP stack.

Either way, $100+ dollars for this NIC is a huge waste of money. You can apply it towards a new proc, gpu, memory, hdd, etc. Hell, that's three BJs in NYC.


RE: Waste of money
By UNHchabo on 3/24/2009 3:30:16 PM , Rating: 2
UDP is not a subset of TCP/IP.

UDP is an one of the two widely-used protocols at Layer 4 of the OSI stack. TCP is the other.


RE: Waste of money
By afkrotch on 3/26/2009 5:15:43 AM , Rating: 2
UDP is part of the IP in TCP/IP.


RE: Waste of money
By DragonMaster0 on 3/23/2009 10:52:01 PM , Rating: 3
quote:
I have used the old card and it did make a 15% ping difference, and overall more stable ping.

You know that this thing (http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N8... is doing just as well?

It's much better than an onboard NIC, and benchmark results are EQUAL with the Killer NIC, for less than $30.

http://forum.ncix.com/forums/topic.php?id=1304406

In fact, you even see that when the Killer NIC is in application mode, the only feature worth something, it's not performing as well as the Intel.

Any NIC that offloads networking will improve sound stuttering: It's not causing tons of latency and usage on the CPU and PCI(e) bus, leaving space for other tasks.

If I talk from personal experience with an onboard Realtek NIC: I have a real hardware sound card, and listen to music with 96kHz resampling using 30% of one of the AMD X2 4400 cores. Well, guess what, if I was downloading a Linux distro torrent for example, while playing music, the UI was sluggish, and running any applications caused the sound to stutter. I placed in a $1 3Com 3C905, and all my problems went away. Even websites loaded faster. Now, I installed Windows 7 beta, and unfortunately, the old 3Com doesn't work anymore. Aero felt sluggish, and sound was stuttering a little bit sometimes (better than XP though) So I bought an Intel 1000GT, and again, problems solved!

Also, even with an onboard NIC, money could always be better spent on a better router. I have an Asus WL-520gU (better specs than the WRT54GL). Just for fun, I installed DD-WRT last week, even though I don't need the extra features. Well, guess what, my Internet download speeds tripled. I thought my DSL connection speeds sucked, but it turned out to be the router. The problem with small routers such as the WRT54GL, etc. is that their small CPU gets loaded very easily. Transfer a file between two computers on a Windows share, or run 100 simultaneous connections over the Internet, and you'll see that it's struggling hard. You'll have a hard time accessing the web interface, and everything runs slower.


RE: Waste of money
By SSDMaster on 3/24/2009 8:19:15 AM , Rating: 2
I followed that link and it does show that pings are on par with Intels card. The thing is, the intel card will not offload UDP packets. The whole "TCP Stack includes UDP" is true.... but no other networking card manufacturer untill now saw the reason to include UDP. The only point of offloading the TCP stack was to improve bandwidth and lessen the load on the processor. Latency was never the issue. So even though your ping may be on par with the KillerNIC, the UDP packets are not going to be prioritized with that NIC.

Also, (I don't play WoW) if you have an MMO with lets say 40 people in a raid, your going to see a huge improvement in performance, both in FPS and latency.

And the reason I bought the KillerNIC was to see if there was an improvement in my server's ping. I host a very latency sensitive game (armagetron) and improving 16 players ping by 15% is worth it IMO.


RE: Waste of money
By callmeroy on 3/24/2009 10:36:01 AM , Rating: 2
I laugh at some of the posts (well most of them actually) in this entire thread -- folks obviously don't know much about networking here if they don't see any value in the card or think a regular NIC is comparable.

I've in fact witnessed a difference in performance on a buddy's computer after he installed the original KillerNic....BUT now for the reality check -- the difference was not huge, it was noticeable but not drastically noticeable. Kind of like if you go from 1 gig of RAM to 2 gig RAM -- you'll notice some benefits of improvement but you won't be seeing an improvement of say going from 1 gig to 4 gig.

15 - 20% improvement in overall average latency and a couple FPS gain is worth it to some.....the problem I have and where I support you all in laughter comes down to the PRICE.....its worth what it does...but its not worth the ridiculous MSRP they are charging.


Interesting concept, but
By Jansen (blog) on 3/23/2009 11:17:24 AM , Rating: 5
The concept is interesting, but the price is just too much. Integration on the motherboard has lowered consumer price expectations. They might be willing to pay for a SoundBlaster, but will they pay over $100 for a NIC?

If it was around $50, it might be a hit.




RE: Interesting concept, but
By rburnham on 3/23/2009 11:55:51 AM , Rating: 2
For $50, yeah I'd consider it. More than that, heck no.


RE: Interesting concept, but
By omnicronx on 3/23/09, Rating: 0
RE: Interesting concept, but
By UNHchabo on 3/23/2009 1:30:41 PM , Rating: 2
Keep in mind that TCP Offload Engine (TOE) cards generally cost at least twice what this NIC does. I know a guy who wanted to buy one of the original Killer NIC cards for a webserver to see if it was better value for money than a traditional TOE.

Sure, it may not generally be better value for your money than a better video card or more RAM, but that doesn't mean it never is.


RE: Interesting concept, but
By omnicronx on 3/23/09, Rating: 0
RE: Interesting concept, but
By UNHchabo on 3/24/2009 3:15:43 PM , Rating: 2
This card isn't designed for the gamer who shuts down all non-essential processes in order to play games though, it's meant for people who have their machine multi-task while they're gaming. Your connection to the outside world may not be GigE, but what about your home network?

What if you having your gaming machine hooked up to your HTPC through a home GigE network, and you have your BitTorrent client set up to copy files to your HTPC when they're done downloading? Conceivably, you'd want to let your system limit the bandwidth of the transfer so your gaming machine doesn't studder, or introduce frame loss or lag.

I think the utilities that ship with the card sound much more useful than the hardware capabilities of just the card itself. You may be able to code all that yourself on a normal NIC, but there's a big market in the software industry for easy-to-use GUIs for things nerds are perfectly capable of doing by hand on the command-line.


RE: Interesting concept, but
By DragonMaster0 on 3/23/2009 10:15:55 PM , Rating: 2
Aren't the $26 Intel 1000 NICs doing that?


RE: Interesting concept, but
By DonkeyRhubarb on 3/23/2009 2:28:17 PM , Rating: 1
50 would be an alright price, but then they would be aiming it at the mid - low end gaming market. Im sure the price reflects its perceived ultra high end gaming abilities.

Its aimed at money-no-object high end gaming, so if you have a few quid you may even get it for bragging rights.

Pointless if you ask me :p


RE: Interesting concept, but
By chizow on 3/23/2009 3:40:48 PM , Rating: 3
quote:
They might be willing to pay for a SoundBlaster, but will they pay over $100 for a NIC?


That's just the thing, paying for a $100 SoundBlaster does yield a tangible benefit in sound quality and positional effects, particular in games. From what little I've researched on these Killer NICs there's been no conclusive tests or benches that show any benefit over standard onboard gigabit ethernet. I'd love to see a comprehensive review that shows any benefit but again, they just don't exist.


RE: Interesting concept, but
By warrioryoko on 3/23/2009 5:06:53 PM , Rating: 2
http://www.anandtech.com/showdoc.aspx?i=2865

There we go, fixed that for you.

The first version of the card does consistently boost performance. By an average of 10% or so. I'm more interested
in the idea, that we move to creating hardware that picks up different processes like network traffic and handles it on its own, instead of relying on the OS, user settings, etc. to handle it.

I don't even come close to asserting it's worth $100, or more, for that extra performance. I agree that manually changing your OS and Network/Router settings will improve your performance more than use of the card will. Also that if you are SERIOUSLY that hard pressed for a few less ms in latency, you're much better off BUYING A FASTER CONNECTION.

It's a nice idea, and works to an extent - and I feel the concept they're working under is more important than the role or performance of their hardware itself, that of hardware specialization for specific tasks.

But it's not worth the current cost.

And if you buy Alienware, Dell XPS, or Falcon Northwest systems, you're likely ignorant of these points, and are likely commited to overspending so much that you wouldn't feel the extra hit from one of these cards to your wallet.


Scam
By 2bdetermine on 3/23/2009 12:20:37 PM , Rating: 3
Signal went to a gazillion paths before it reach your router, switches etc. Talking about a load of latency. How the heck can this thing help to improve the latency.

Wanted to add more bling to your rig. Wasted your money on crucial ballistix tracer at least you'll know you get something in return.




RE: Scam
By omnicronx on 3/23/2009 1:21:42 PM , Rating: 1
It still bypasses the Windows network stack, but in no way or form would you notice any difference while gaming. We are talking about a few ms here. i.e a few one thousands of a second difference is not going to make anyone a better gamer.


RE: Scam
By callmeroy on 3/24/2009 10:42:36 AM , Rating: 2
In my experience with those that use it for gaming (of course) it does seem to lower their latency an average of 10-15 ms.....that might make a difference slightly if you are an FPS player big time....in MMO's (WoW for example) those kinds of games are much more forgiving with regards to latency than FPS games are. so if you only play MMO's you ain't gonna care much about picking up an extra 10-15 ms.


RE: Scam
By archdale on 3/23/2009 9:19:43 PM , Rating: 2
Despite all the hops data makes, there are things you can do on the PC side to decrease latency. Just look up how Disabling Nagle's Algorithm affects latency for games.


Hmmm..
By SlipDizzy on 3/23/2009 1:44:32 PM , Rating: 2
If this was sold by Vince Offer aka the ShamWow guy, then I'd purchase it. Until then, I will say NO THANK YOU GOOD SIR!




RE: Hmmm..
By Chocobollz on 3/23/2009 4:33:45 PM , Rating: 1
You mean Ken Shamrock? Why would an UFC fighter sell this things? LOL

/J.K


RE: Hmmm..
By Cullinaire on 3/23/2009 6:48:29 PM , Rating: 2
No way, Billy Mays all the way!


RE: Hmmm..
By phaxmohdem on 3/24/2009 12:11:20 AM , Rating: 2
I think they'd have to release a Citrus scented edition in order for Billy Mays to jump on board and promote it.


Internet Package
By Machinegear on 3/23/2009 1:15:55 PM , Rating: 3
ISP's should buy this puppy in bulk and bundle it with a 'Gamer' or 'Xbox Certified' internet package. I foresee this as a creative way to make some extra cash off the not-too-techie gamers. I envision the marketing something like this...

**NEW** Gamerz Xtreme 16Mbps High Speed contection with KILLER network contectivity!!! Never lose a game again!!! Just $34.99 a month!!!

($34.99 for first month, $74.99 per month thereafter with 4 year contract, KILLER network card is an extra $4.99 per month)




RE: Internet Package
By VooDooAddict on 3/23/2009 6:23:05 PM , Rating: 2
Actually.... make it truly unlimited internet .. not these ulimited with caps and there would be a market for it.


By Cheesew1z69 on 3/23/2009 11:15:00 AM , Rating: 1
And if it's a shitty path, this card will do no good anyway and seeing as how unless this card is able to modify the path a internet connection takes, this is STILL a waste of money




By Cheesew1z69 on 3/23/2009 11:17:56 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
The voice hardware promises to allow gamers to use chat applications in game without the frequent stuttering and other issues with voice quality.
Also, I do not seem to have these problems as many people I play with do not have these problems


The question everyone wants to ask
By DukeN on 3/23/2009 2:36:27 PM , Rating: 3
Do you have to be versed in Scientology to use it?




uber
By jak3676 on 3/23/2009 11:13:11 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
The Killer Xeno Pro will be available from Alienware and EVGA for $129.99 in April 2009. The Killer Xeno Ultra will ship in May from other leading partners for $179.99.


At which the uberl33t crowd will quickly discover that they are neither more uber, or more l33t, but slightly more broke.




I guess its a little less ridiculous...
By m1ldslide1 on 3/23/2009 11:15:22 AM , Rating: 2
From the article:

quote:
The Killer Xeno cards fit into PCIe slots on the mainboard and the integrated network processing unit claims to ensure the delivery of time-sensitive data like game control and VoIP packets. The device bypasses the Windows network stack for direct to game interrupts. The Ultra model has 256MB of RAM onboard and the Pro model has 128MB of RAM to enable firewall, chat, and bandwidth control to run simultaneously.


The last version was kind of preposterous, but now if they're offloading all VOIP decoding, packet inspection firewall and qos functions to this card then I can see it making a minor impact. And minor is a huge improvement from negligible, mind you. More power to them, and anybody with $180 to drop on things like a PhysX card or a KillerNIC.




Consider this
By Runiteshark on 3/23/2009 11:35:40 AM , Rating: 2
I don't know why all you guys are insulting this. I'm wondering if you could replace it with a different kernel and run something like IPMI off of it, and make a cheap solution.

Last time I checked it was running a modified version of nix so it wouldn't be anything to hard to do I would imagine.

The other thing is, is if you can use this to do proper SPI inspection, and on the fly encoding for VOIP, I can see it being a slight benefit, but the biggest by far is if you can replace the OS on it to use it for something else.




That's nice and all...
By amanojaku on 3/23/2009 12:23:32 PM , Rating: 2
Bypass Windows' network stack to improve host latency, which is trivial today since all of the latency is in the NETWORK, not the host. Next, Bigfoot Networks will tell you a Lamborghini can eliminate gridlock.




Where's the huge metal "K"?
By nafhan on 3/23/2009 1:08:54 PM , Rating: 2
That was the only reason I would have bought the first one :)

Never mind... I think the only case where I would consider buying something like this is if the integrated NIC on the MB dies, and this is only marginally more than the cheapest standalone NIC available. Both of which seem unlikely.




By IcePickFreak on 3/24/2009 5:12:13 PM , Rating: 2
...and hire me!

Bigfoot VTEC NIC $129
Bigfoot VTEC NOS Edition NIC $179

Why try to be innovative when you can steal somebody elses meaningless marketing tactics?




This just in!
By Flunk on 3/23/2009 11:12:38 AM , Rating: 1
No one cares.




Not quite useless
By East17 on 3/23/2009 6:56:37 PM , Rating: 1
OK ... first of all , I hate bashing . I don't like the ones bashing , apple for delivering a nicer product with a REALLY different operating system and asking a 50% price premium for their products. That means that Ferrari should be bashed for asking a 300% price premium over the Corvette only for offering a different design. Come on people ... IT's CAPILISM we're linving in . Besides , the original Killer NIC really WAS improving the performance as shown in the AnandTech review / product evaluation . There WERE better results F.E.A.R., World of WarCraft, and Counter Strike: Source . With FEAR getting a 10% performance boost and WoW getting some nice 5% otherwise obtained only by buying an overclocked video card that's usualy exactly 50$ more expensive :) . Yes ... the price might apear high but it's smaller than the 249$ price point that was used 2 year ago . Much lower with, hopefully, better perfomance . The most important thing here is that THEY DO IMPROVE performance ... unlike Intel was doing with it's Pentium 4 @ 1,4 GHz back in 2001 when they had around 30 legal actions against them based on the fact that the P3 was getting better performance results than the Pentium 4. These guys don't lie .. they make some money and , hopefully, their product will bring more than 5% all round improvement . If not ... than they are doing the Intel / Willamete dance and getting paid very well for it by the fools stupid enough to buy before seing the benchmarks.




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