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Killer NIC
 

Killer NIC

Platform: PC Games
Category: Hardware
 
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Author: Murray G

Of all the things we test and write about for PC gaming, network speed is usually at the bottom of the list. It is not a sexy category like graphics or sound. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve spent studying specs for Video Cards, Sound Cards, HDD speeds, etc., and how I don’t pay too much attention to NIC card specs. After all it’s only a NIC card how fancy can you get with a NIC.? Boy was I wrong.

The reality is quite different though as PC Gamers want to squeeze everything they can out of their bandwidth. In the world of FPS’s and MMORPG’s he who shoots last dies first. It would make sense then that a NIC would be higher up in the gaming hardware priority list then it actually is. There still seems to be some apathy out there for the NIC.

Bigfoot Networks has made a bold move and shaken the NIC card market with the introduction of the Killer NIC. Bigfoot is making some big claims and they are ruffling a few feathers. Bigfoot claims the Killer NIC greatly reduces lag and latency making game play faster and more enjoyable. The Killer NIC also comes with a killer price tag of $200 +. Everyone I talk to asks the same question: “Is it worth it; can you really notice a difference?” My answer is always a resounding “Yes”, and the technology behind the card is the reason why.

Essentially the Killer NIC has its own onboard computer. This computer takes networking load off a PC’s CPU and processes it internally on the Linux based NPU (Networking Processor Unit). The NPU then works it magic by pushing all gaming packets to the front of the line ahead of non gaming data traffic. The brains behind the process are Lag and Latency Reduction (LLR) technology. LLR uses the NPU to bypass the windows network stack and implement its own networking stack. This is where the increase in online gaming performance occurs. By offloading this data from the CPU your CPU cycles increase and you circumnavigate the windows OS and transfer data directly to your game.

Another great feature of the Killer NIC is something called FNA (Flexible Network Architecture). FNA takes advantage of the Killer NIC’s NPU to enhance application performance via custom built apps. These apps are custom built using Linux. Currently there are 5 custom apps and SDK available for download at www.killernic.com.

These FNA apps are, taken verbatim from the site

1. FNA Firewall

FNFirewall uses the popular and effective Open Source iptables firewall found in Linux and provides you with a Windows(tm)-based front end. This firewall runs completely inside the Killer NPU, giving you added security by blocking malicious attacks before they even hit your PC's bus. Advanced iptables users can write their own scripts or use it directly using the FNA SDK.

2. FNA Voice

We have teamed up with DiamondWare to develop a hardware-accelerated voice solution for gaming that fully offloads all client-side processing to the Killer NIC. The combination of Diamond Ware’s 3D positional voice technology accelerated with Killer hardware provides higher-quality multiplayer voice while gaming with zero impact to your game’s performance.

3. FNA FTP

Copy files to and from your Killer NIC's USB attached HD or internal RAM to the host computer.


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