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Gigabit Connectivity Problems

Posted on 2006-11-30
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Last Modified: 2013-11-09
Last week, Compusa has a 5 port Netgear gigabit switch on sale.  As I've been thinking about converting my home network to gigabit (since the switches and NIC's are relatively cheap now), I went ahead and purchased it with the intent of connecting my Windows 2003 server to it.  This server has an Asus A8R-MVP mobo, which includes an onboard gigabit NIC (Yukon).

The Windows server is in my basement where my cable modem / other cabling comes in.  As I already had a Linksys wireless router down there (which is also where my Internet connection is plugged into), I ran a cable from an open port on the Linksys router to a port on the gigabit switch so as to connect the gigabit switch into my home network. From there, I ran another cable from the gigabit switch to the server.  While I was able to establish gigabit connectivity initially, it dropped back to 100 Mbps if I rebooted the server or if I disabled / enabled the interface.  I confirmed the cable going from switch to server was Cat 5e, which it was but went ahead and swapped in a new cable to see if that would make any difference, which it did not.  When I went to view the advanced properties of the NIC, I noticed that the settings were auto-sense and 10 / 100 Mbps full/half duplex -- nothing for 1000 Mbps.   I thought this was odd but since I was able to connect via gigabit (at least for a short period), I just assumed auto-sense detected things OK.

Anyhow, thinking perhaps the onboard NIC was an issue, I went out and purchased a Dlink Gigabit PCI card and encountered the same results -- including the driver settings not showing 1000 Mbps.  Unlike the Marvell adapter, a event log error noting the driver for the adapter encountered an internal error preceded the downshift to 100 Mbps.  When the connection was working OK -- albeit temporarily, no errors occurred so I imagine the error is relative to the downshift.  

At this point, I really don't understand why I can't get and keep a gigabit connection.  I realize that I won't be able to take full advantage of the connection until I upgrade at least one other PC to gigabit but I have to start somewhere -- this server being it.  

Any thoughts / suggestions on where the problem may be?  I am considering returning the switch for a different brand/manufacturer but not truly convinced that it will resolve my issues.  All this said, one thing I did notice is that the cable going from the linksys router to the switch is Cat5 and not 5e.  I thought I had already tried a Cat5e cable there with the same results but don't remember.  I don't think this is a problem per se but perhaps it is.

I'll provide any other details / info as requested.
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Question by:Bill Smith
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by:pakitloss
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The cable from the switch to the router should not make a difference as you are linking with an interface on the switch. Are there any updated drivers for the cards? Try running Live Update and see if any updates show up under software. Also check the Netgear site for any issues listed on the site. It seems like an auto negotiate issue.
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by:Bill Smith
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I downloaded / installed the latest drivers from Marvell and used the drivers on the CD for the Dlink card (also the latest) so I don't think that the issue.  Netgear's site did not have much of anything to offer either -- at least that I could find.  It would seem like an auto negotiation issue though I don't know how to fix it at this point.  The IEEE standard says Gigabit full duplex is via auto negotiation so the fact that 1000 mbps does not appear for either of the cards makes sense now.

I also tried a crossover cable from the switch to the server with the same results (initial connection at gigabit but dropping down shortly thereafter or after a reboot.
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by:btassure
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IS there anything in the BIOS to configure the onboard card? Also when booting there may be a "push F4 for configuration" message or something in relation to the Dlink card, if there is then press it and see what is in there. If you can find some you could try putting in Cat6 cable between your server and the switch. How long is the cable?
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by:Bill Smith
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I'll have to check the BIOS again but I don't recall anything specific there that may help.  As for the Dlink card, nothing during bootup in terms of getting to a configuration screen.  The cable I'm using is 7 ft -- well within the length limits.  I don't have access to any Cat6 cable but don't think that is the problem since Cat5e should work without any issues.  I'm leaning towards returning the Netgear switch and trying my luck with another vendor's (Linksys or Dlink).  IF still no success there, will have to troubleshoot further
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Trilotech earned 100 total points
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I wouldn't rule out the cable. If the first was a CAT5e and maybe problematic and the second just a standard CAT5, the cable could be an issue. It is all about the twists. Gigabit is pretty touchy. You probably ought to pick up a CAT6 cable somewhere. If that doesn't do it THEN I would start to think the switch was a problem.

I am assuming the Netgear supports multiple speeds on different ports. If it does NOT then it will drop to 100 for the Cable modem and thus everyone. I think that the Netgears do support different speeds at the same time, but this was an issue when 100Mbit came out and hubs and switches only supported one or the other and not both...
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by:pakitloss
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If you are familiar with using a protocol analyzer like WireShark you can see what is happening during the auto negotiation.
 
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by:Bill Smith
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The Netgear switch I have is supposed to support multiple speeds but am not certain.  That said, I have not had luck with Netgear equipment before whereas my luck has been pretty good with Linksys & Dlink.  I think I'm going to exchange at Compusa for the Dlink DGS-2205 and then get another Cat5e cable and possibly Cat6.  Right now, the cable going into the cable modem / WAN port on Linksys router is Cat5e along with all the other cables going into the available Linksys ports.  The more I think about it now, I think the cable going from the linksys to Netgear switch may just be Cat5.  I'll have to double check that again to be sure -- which if the case, could be an issue.  I know this much for sure.  All other cables sans the one from the linksys to the netgear are definitely Cat5e.    I'll do a little more testing this evening and post an update.

Thanks for the feedback thus far!
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by:Bill Smith
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Good point there re: Wireshark -- that just totally slipped my mind.  I'll give that a whirl as well if the Dlink switch doesn't help
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by:pakitloss
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Plus it's fun!!!!
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by:megs28
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Cat6 cable is the way to go from all PCs to the switch.  I'd switch that before doing anything else....  Rarely does CAT5e actually run at 1000baseT (even if it says it is....), especially with EMI with is practically unavoidable.  In theory, you really shouldn't need a CAT6 cable between the router, cat5 or cat5e will suffice.  As long as all PCs are connected to the switch, you'll get GB connections between them.  Ports on switches do not share bandwidth, unlike hubs.  So even if you have a 10baseT card connected to your GB switch, that NIC will run at 10baseT whereas other NICs with 1000baseT connections to the switch will run at 1000baseT.  When transferring files between the two it will be 10baseT because you're only as strong as your weakest link.  I've worked on many workstations with onboard Yukon cards (Asus boards), and find them to be very flakey, ESPECIALLY when set to auto negotiate the speed.
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by:Bill Smith
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Returning / exchanging the Netgear switch for a Dlink (DGS-2205) did the trick as I can now establish and keep a 1 Gbps connection.  As megs28 noted, it probably isn't true 1000baseT since I'm using cat5e from switch to PC.    I'm going to give another day or two but things look promising now.

On the topic of cat6, anyone here have any experience with the cat6 cables from Link Depot?  Newegg is selling various lengths from under a buck to several dollars depending on length.  In most cases, your paying more for shipping; however, I figure I could get several 7ft cables from newegg for the price that one would cost me at retail (i.e. compusa, etc).  Ebay is also an option too I guess...
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by:pakitloss
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I have most of my development environment wired with Newegg cables and have not had a single problem. I even have a 1000' of bulk cat6 from them as well.
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by:Bill Smith
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All seems to be working now that I'm using the Dlink switch.  I'm going to split points up here as there was no one right answer but several on the right track.  Thanks all!
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Thanks apobull!
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