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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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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?

"And boy have we patented it!" -- Steve Jobs, Macworld 2007
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