Firewire -- on-board vs. add-on card -- performance the same? - Hardware

This is a discussion on Firewire -- on-board vs. add-on card -- performance the same? - Hardware ; I'm currently shopping for a socket AM2 motherboard that has both a serial and a Firewire interface. I'd like the serial port so I can plug in an external modem to use with Linux/BSD, while I figure that the Firewire ...

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Thread: Firewire -- on-board vs. add-on card -- performance the same?

  1. Firewire -- on-board vs. add-on card -- performance the same?

    I'm currently shopping for a socket AM2 motherboard that has both a
    serial and a Firewire interface. I'd like the serial port so I can
    plug in an external modem to use with Linux/BSD, while I figure that
    the Firewire will probably be useful further down the road (though I
    have no immediate need for it). What I'm finding is that several
    motherboards in my price range ($60 to $120) have either one or the
    other, but few are available that have both.

    I've noticed that for $25 or thereabouts, you can buy a PCI card that
    adds a Firewire interface to your PC. Though I'm not enthusiastic
    about giving up a PCI slot (especially since many motherboards now
    only give you two or three), I figure buying a board with just a
    serial port and adding a PCI Firewire card when and if I need it might
    be a solution. However, since these Firewire cards transfer data
    through the PCI bus, I'm wondering: Do these add-on cards perform as
    well as an on-board Firewire interface? Do Linux and BSD have any
    problems recognizing these cards?
    --
    "Those of us whose brains did not die in college are
    actually stunned by just how stupid academic ideas
    are." -- Robert W. Whitaker, http://readbob.com/

  2. Re: Firewire -- on-board vs. add-on card -- performance the same?

    On Fri, 19 Oct 2007 03:50:19 -0700, Igor rearranged some electrons to say:

    > I'm currently shopping for a socket AM2 motherboard that has both a
    > serial and a Firewire interface. I'd like the serial port so I can plug
    > in an external modem to use with Linux/BSD, while I figure that the
    > Firewire will probably be useful further down the road (though I have no
    > immediate need for it). What I'm finding is that several motherboards in
    > my price range ($60 to $120) have either one or the other, but few are
    > available that have both.
    >
    > I've noticed that for $25 or thereabouts, you can buy a PCI card that
    > adds a Firewire interface to your PC. Though I'm not enthusiastic about
    > giving up a PCI slot (especially since many motherboards now only give
    > you two or three), I figure buying a board with just a serial port and
    > adding a PCI Firewire card when and if I need it might be a solution.
    > However, since these Firewire cards transfer data through the PCI bus,
    > I'm wondering: Do these add-on cards perform as well as an on-board
    > Firewire interface? Do Linux and BSD have any problems recognizing these
    > cards?


    It may still use the PCI bus, even if it's on board.

  3. Re: Firewire -- on-board vs. add-on card -- performance the same?

    On Fri, 19 Oct 2007 03:50:19 -0700, Igor
    wrote:

    >I'm currently shopping for a socket AM2 motherboard that has both a
    >serial and a Firewire interface. I'd like the serial port so I can
    >plug in an external modem to use with Linux/BSD, while I figure that
    >the Firewire will probably be useful further down the road (though I
    >have no immediate need for it). What I'm finding is that several
    >motherboards in my price range ($60 to $120) have either one or the
    >other, but few are available that have both.
    >
    >I've noticed that for $25 or thereabouts, you can buy a PCI card that
    >adds a Firewire interface to your PC. Though I'm not enthusiastic
    >about giving up a PCI slot (especially since many motherboards now
    >only give you two or three), I figure buying a board with just a
    >serial port and adding a PCI Firewire card when and if I need it might
    >be a solution. However, since these Firewire cards transfer data
    >through the PCI bus, I'm wondering: Do these add-on cards perform as
    >well as an on-board Firewire interface?


    Yes, providing you don't have a lot of other concurrent PCI
    traffic.


    >Do Linux and BSD have any
    >problems recognizing these cards?


    That's a software question, more appropriately asked in a
    group specific to the exact OS you want to run, not just a
    general class of OS. Better to ask in such a forum "which
    firewire chipsets have the best support".

    If you have no immediate need, why are you thinking firewire
    is important? BTW, there are PCIe firewire cards now. You
    might seek some, note the chipset used, and Google for that
    chipset + the specific OS you will use to find support
    details.

  4. Re: Firewire -- on-board vs. add-on card -- performance the same?

    On Fri, 19 Oct 2007 03:50:19 -0700, Igor wrote:

    > Do these add-on cards perform as well as an on-board Firewire interface?


    No... The interface can only operate as fast as the bus it's plugged into
    so assuming the hardwired bus is faster than PCI an add-on card will be
    slower... but the performance difference probably won't be noticeable in
    any case.

    --
    I told you this was going to happen.


  5. Re: Firewire -- on-board vs. add-on card -- performance the same?

    In alt.comp.hardware.amd.x86-64 Ivan Marsh wrote:
    > On Fri, 19 Oct 2007 03:50:19 -0700, Igor wrote:
    >
    >> Do these add-on cards perform as well as an on-board Firewire interface?

    >
    > No... The interface can only operate as fast as the bus it's plugged into
    > so assuming the hardwired bus is faster than PCI an add-on card will be
    > slower... but the performance difference probably won't be noticeable in
    > any case.
    >


    OpenBSD has no support for Firewire. This may be in part because the Firewire protocol
    requires that the controller be able to access all of physical memory r/w, so it presents
    a security problem.
    --

  6. Re: Firewire -- on-board vs. add-on card -- performance the same?

    On Fri, 19 Oct 2007 11:04:10 -0500, dave wrote:

    > In alt.comp.hardware.amd.x86-64 Ivan Marsh wrote:
    >> On Fri, 19 Oct 2007 03:50:19 -0700, Igor wrote:
    >>
    >>> Do these add-on cards perform as well as an on-board Firewire interface?

    >>
    >> No... The interface can only operate as fast as the bus it's plugged into
    >> so assuming the hardwired bus is faster than PCI an add-on card will be
    >> slower... but the performance difference probably won't be noticeable in
    >> any case.

    >
    > OpenBSD has no support for Firewire. This may be in part because the Firewire protocol
    > requires that the controller be able to access all of physical memory r/w, so it presents
    > a security problem.


    Interesting... I did not know that.

    Does OpenBSD support DMA on any device?

    --
    I told you this was going to happen.


  7. Re: Firewire -- on-board vs. add-on card -- performance the same?

    [Newsgroups trimmed a little]

    On 2007-10-19, Ivan Marsh wrote:
    > On Fri, 19 Oct 2007 03:50:19 -0700, Igor wrote:
    >
    >> Do these add-on cards perform as well as an on-board Firewire interface?

    >
    > No... The interface can only operate as fast as the bus it's plugged into
    > so assuming the hardwired bus is faster than PCI an add-on card will be
    > slower... but the performance difference probably won't be noticeable in
    > any case.


    Only in most cases the on-board firewire will be implemented on
    the PCI bus anyway. Just because it isn't an expansion card doesn't
    mean that it's not PCI.

    In any case the point is moot as the PCI bus is higher bandwidth
    than firewire. The PCI bus is only going to limit things if you
    had a lot of other traffic on the bus, in which case the processor
    is likely to be struggling to keep up.

    Personally I prefer things like this to be off-board - expansion
    cards are much more likely to detail what individual chips they
    use so you can assess compatibility for any given OS. Even if you
    have those details for the on-board option, you're more likely to
    find specific compatibility reports for a card than you are for an
    on-board implementation.

    --
    Andrew Smallshaw
    andrews@sdf.lonestar.org

  8. Re: Firewire -- on-board vs. add-on card -- performance the same?

    On Fri, 19 Oct 2007 10:31:50 -0500, Ivan Marsh
    wrote:

    >On Fri, 19 Oct 2007 03:50:19 -0700, Igor wrote:
    >
    >> Do these add-on cards perform as well as an on-board Firewire interface?

    >
    >No... The interface can only operate as fast as the bus it's plugged into
    >so assuming the hardwired bus is faster than PCI an add-on card will be
    >slower... but the performance difference probably won't be noticeable in
    >any case.



    What in the world are you talking about?

    The "interface", being firewire, is slower than the PCI bus.
    There is no "assuming the hardwared bus is faster than PCI",
    and why would you assume it, which seems rather crazy given
    there are PCI firewire cards?

  9. Re: Firewire -- on-board vs. add-on card -- performance the same?

    Igor wrote:
    > I'm currently shopping for a socket AM2 motherboard that has both a
    > serial and a Firewire interface. I'd like the serial port so I can
    > plug in an external modem to use with Linux/BSD, while I figure that
    > the Firewire will probably be useful further down the road (though I
    > have no immediate need for it). What I'm finding is that several
    > motherboards in my price range ($60 to $120) have either one or the
    > other, but few are available that have both.
    >
    > I've noticed that for $25 or thereabouts, you can buy a PCI card that
    > adds a Firewire interface to your PC. Though I'm not enthusiastic
    > about giving up a PCI slot (especially since many motherboards now
    > only give you two or three), I figure buying a board with just a
    > serial port and adding a PCI Firewire card when and if I need it might
    > be a solution. However, since these Firewire cards transfer data
    > through the PCI bus, I'm wondering: Do these add-on cards perform as
    > well as an on-board Firewire interface? Do Linux and BSD have any
    > problems recognizing these cards?
    > --
    > "Those of us whose brains did not die in college are
    > actually stunned by just how stupid academic ideas
    > are." -- Robert W. Whitaker, http://readbob.com/


    Mepis 6.5-64bit on my system with the MSI K8NGM2-FID board/ AMD 939 pin
    Sempron 3000+cpu, and 512MB RAM, (upgraded to 1.5Gb DDR 3200 RAM),
    recognized everything fine, the add in PCI Firewire card runs great for
    my 3 external drives.

    kInfocenter reports the Actiontec, Initio, and MSI chipsets involved
    under IEE-1394.

    Mepis has the Debian, Ubuntu, and Mepis repositories for kSynaptic updates.

    Install time for the new system, in May, was 9 minutes.
    Full updates took another 20 minutes. All was automatic.
    No problems since then, and my systems here all run 24/7/365.




  10. Re: Firewire -- on-board vs. add-on card -- performance the same?

    On Fri, 19 Oct 2007 13:14:22 -0400, kony wrote:

    > On Fri, 19 Oct 2007 10:31:50 -0500, Ivan Marsh wrote:
    >>On Fri, 19 Oct 2007 03:50:19 -0700, Igor wrote:
    >>
    >>> Do these add-on cards perform as well as an on-board Firewire
    >>> interface?

    >>
    >>No... The interface can only operate as fast as the bus it's plugged
    >>into so assuming the hardwired bus is faster than PCI an add-on card
    >>will be slower... but the performance difference probably won't be
    >>noticeable in any case.

    >
    > What in the world are you talking about?
    >
    > The "interface", being firewire, is slower than the PCI bus. There is no
    > "assuming the hardwared bus is faster than PCI", and why would you
    > assume it, which seems rather crazy given there are PCI firewire cards?


    Shorter path and less generic architecture = more efficient = faster...
    though probably would have to be measured in nano seconds if not pico
    seconds.

    --
    I told you this was going to happen.


  11. Re: Firewire -- on-board vs. add-on card -- performance the same?

    In alt.comp.hardware.amd.x86-64 Andrew Smallshaw wrote:
    > [Newsgroups trimmed a little]
    >
    > On 2007-10-19, Ivan Marsh wrote:
    >> On Fri, 19 Oct 2007 03:50:19 -0700, Igor wrote:
    >>
    >>> Do these add-on cards perform as well as an on-board Firewire interface?

    >>
    >> No... The interface can only operate as fast as the bus it's plugged into
    >> so assuming the hardwired bus is faster than PCI an add-on card will be
    >> slower... but the performance difference probably won't be noticeable in
    >> any case.

    >
    > Only in most cases the on-board firewire will be implemented on
    > the PCI bus anyway. Just because it isn't an expansion card doesn't
    > mean that it's not PCI.
    >
    > In any case the point is moot as the PCI bus is higher bandwidth
    > than firewire. The PCI bus is only going to limit things if you
    > had a lot of other traffic on the bus, in which case the processor
    > is likely to be struggling to keep up.


    PCIe is faster and more efficient than PCI. Maybe there are PCIe Firewire
    cards available.

    > Personally I prefer things like this to be off-board - expansion
    > cards are much more likely to detail what individual chips they
    > use so you can assess compatibility for any given OS. Even if you
    > have those details for the on-board option, you're more likely to
    > find specific compatibility reports for a card than you are for an
    > on-board implementation.
    >


    --

  12. Re: Firewire -- on-board vs. add-on card -- performance the same?

    On Fri, 19 Oct 2007 12:48:01 -0500, Ivan Marsh
    wrote:

    >On Fri, 19 Oct 2007 13:14:22 -0400, kony wrote:
    >
    >> On Fri, 19 Oct 2007 10:31:50 -0500, Ivan Marsh wrote:
    >>>On Fri, 19 Oct 2007 03:50:19 -0700, Igor wrote:
    >>>
    >>>> Do these add-on cards perform as well as an on-board Firewire
    >>>> interface?
    >>>
    >>>No... The interface can only operate as fast as the bus it's plugged
    >>>into so assuming the hardwired bus is faster than PCI an add-on card
    >>>will be slower... but the performance difference probably won't be
    >>>noticeable in any case.

    >>
    >> What in the world are you talking about?
    >>
    >> The "interface", being firewire, is slower than the PCI bus. There is no
    >> "assuming the hardwared bus is faster than PCI", and why would you
    >> assume it, which seems rather crazy given there are PCI firewire cards?

    >
    >Shorter path and less generic architecture = more efficient = faster...
    >though probably would have to be measured in nano seconds if not pico
    >seconds.


    PCI bus adds a bit of latency, but overall this is slight -
    it'll still outperform USB2 for example. More significant
    is contention on the bus with other PCI devices, if/when
    applicable.

  13. Re: Firewire -- on-board vs. add-on card -- performance the same?

    On Fri, 19 Oct 2007 16:36:21 +0000 (UTC), Andrew Smallshaw
    wrote:



    >
    >In any case the point is moot as the PCI bus is higher bandwidth
    >than firewire.


    Well, I think that's about as definitive an answer as I'll get. Case
    closed!

    >
    >Personally I prefer things like this to be off-board - expansion
    >cards are much more likely to detail what individual chips they
    >use so you can assess compatibility for any given OS. Even if you
    >have those details for the on-board option, you're more likely to
    >find specific compatibility reports for a card than you are for an
    >on-board implementation.


    That's a smart buying strategy. It wouldn't have occurred to me to
    look at it that way. I think I'll leave the Firewire off the board for
    now, especially since a card will likely perform just as well and it
    may not even be something I need.

    --
    "Those of us whose brains did not die in college are
    actually stunned by just how stupid academic ideas
    are." -- Robert W. Whitaker, http://readbob.com/

  14. Re: Firewire -- on-board vs. add-on card -- performance the same?

    On Fri, 19 Oct 2007 10:13:12 -0400, kony wrote:



    >
    >If you have no immediate need, why are you thinking firewire
    >is important?


    Echo Audio (http://echoaudio.com/) have been switching their line of
    soundcards over to the Firewire interface.

    I'm not necessarily going to buy one of their soundcards, but since
    I'm building the PC from scratch, I may as well try to leave as many
    options open as possible.

    --
    "Those of us whose brains did not die in college are
    actually stunned by just how stupid academic ideas
    are." -- Robert W. Whitaker, http://readbob.com/

  15. Re: Firewire -- on-board vs. add-on card -- performance the same?

    On Fri, 19 Oct 2007 15:15:16 -0500, dave
    wrote:



    >
    >PCIe is faster and more efficient than PCI. Maybe there are PCIe Firewire
    >cards available.
    >


    I haven't seen any in the stores/catalogs I've looked through, but
    that doesn't mean they're not out there. Even if they're not available
    now, I'm sure they won't be long in coming.

    That would actually work out well, since the PCI slots that are
    disappearing from motherboards are frequently being replaced by PCIe
    ones.



    --
    "Those of us whose brains did not die in college are
    actually stunned by just how stupid academic ideas
    are." -- Robert W. Whitaker, http://readbob.com/

  16. Re: Firewire -- on-board vs. add-on card -- performance the same?

    On Fri, 19 Oct 2007 12:48:01 -0500, Ivan Marsh wrote:

    > On Fri, 19 Oct 2007 13:14:22 -0400, kony wrote:
    >
    >> On Fri, 19 Oct 2007 10:31:50 -0500, Ivan Marsh wrote:
    >>>On Fri, 19 Oct 2007 03:50:19 -0700, Igor wrote:
    >>>
    >>>> Do these add-on cards perform as well as an on-board Firewire
    >>>> interface?
    >>>
    >>>No... The interface can only operate as fast as the bus it's plugged
    >>>into so assuming the hardwired bus is faster than PCI an add-on card
    >>>will be slower... but the performance difference probably won't be
    >>>noticeable in any case.

    >>
    >> What in the world are you talking about?
    >>
    >> The "interface", being firewire, is slower than the PCI bus. There is no
    >> "assuming the hardwared bus is faster than PCI", and why would you
    >> assume it, which seems rather crazy given there are PCI firewire cards?

    >
    > Shorter path and less generic architecture = more efficient = faster...
    > though probably would have to be measured in nano seconds if not pico
    > seconds.


    PCI bus is 133MHz, 32 or 64 bits wide, noticeably faster than firewire at
    800Mb/s. Note that 1Gb/s is 1 bit per nanosecond. Picoseconds aren't
    needed yet :-)

    Presumably onboard firewire is connected to the PCI bus anyway, or do you
    know of a chipset that implements firewire on the northbridge?

  17. Re: Firewire -- on-board vs. add-on card -- performance the same?

    On 19 Oct, 11:50, Igor wrote:
    > I figure that
    > the Firewire will probably be useful further down the road (though I
    > have no immediate need for it).


    Firewire 400 is about half as fast again as USB2.0, despite what the
    specs say. And it can't be slowed down by plugging in a USB 1.1
    peripheral. I use firewire400 for my external backup drive, and it is
    fast and reliable. I do not buy external drive enclosures that are
    not dual USB/FW interfaced.

    I've used both on-board and PCI firewire cards under Suse, Mandriva,
    and now Ubuntu. Never a moment's bother with anything.

    What annoys me is that, while the odd firewire 800 peripheral is
    about, I can't find either a mother board or an add-in board that
    supports anything faster than firewire 400. Bah!


    BTW multiple cross-posting is often considered rude, especially among
    europeans. it can also lead to mesasges being filtered out by people
    trying to avoid spam


  18. Re: Firewire -- on-board vs. add-on card -- performance the same?

    On 20 Oct 2007 13:12:21 +0200, Mark South
    wrote:


    >Presumably onboard firewire is connected to the PCI bus anyway, or do you
    >know of a chipset that implements firewire on the northbridge?



    A southbridge can also support non-PCI busses.

  19. Re: Firewire -- on-board vs. add-on card -- performance the same?

    On Sat, 20 Oct 2007 09:41:35 -0700, robertharvey@my-deja.com wrote:



    >
    >BTW multiple cross-posting is often considered rude, especially among
    >europeans. it can also lead to mesasges being filtered out by people
    >trying to avoid spam


    It's a tough call. I know it annoys some people, but OTOH, it can lead
    to greater dialog as the posters from the various groups interact with
    each other.
    --
    "Those of us whose brains did not die in college are
    actually stunned by just how stupid academic ideas
    are." -- Robert W. Whitaker, http://readbob.com/

  20. Re: Firewire -- on-board vs. add-on card -- performance the same?

    On Fri, 19 Oct 2007 03:50:19 -0700, Igor
    wrote:

    >I'm currently shopping for a socket AM2 motherboard that has both a
    >serial and a Firewire interface. I'd like the serial port so I can
    >plug in an external modem to use with Linux/BSD, while I figure that
    >the Firewire will probably be useful further down the road (though I
    >have no immediate need for it). What I'm finding is that several
    >motherboards in my price range ($60 to $120) have either one or the
    >other, but few are available that have both.
    >
    >I've noticed that for $25 or thereabouts, you can buy a PCI card that
    >adds a Firewire interface to your PC. Though I'm not enthusiastic
    >about giving up a PCI slot (especially since many motherboards now
    >only give you two or three), I figure buying a board with just a
    >serial port and adding a PCI Firewire card when and if I need it might
    >be a solution. However, since these Firewire cards transfer data
    >through the PCI bus, I'm wondering: Do these add-on cards perform as
    >well as an on-board Firewire interface? Do Linux and BSD have any
    >problems recognizing these cards?



    My 2 cents worth - Firewire is nice, but in all reality, there aren't
    THAT many devices to connect with it. Camcorders, certain really
    ancient (by modern standards) iPods, and maybe a few digital cameras
    are about all that make use of the interface. There are a few external
    hard drives that do as well - but for the most part, USB is as common
    as dirt and pretty much everything I can think of will connect via
    USB.

    So - my advice would be to get a board that has LOTS of USB ports - 8
    or more are a good thing. And if you get one that has standard PS/2
    keyboard and mouse ports, you're that much further ahead in the game.


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