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Slow NIC throughput on SBS2003

Posted on 2009-04-16
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Last Modified: 2012-05-06
Hi,
My client has a Dell PowerEdge Server with an Intel Zeon 3Ghz Processor and 4GB of RAM.
The OS is Windows Small Business Server 2003.
All workstations have 2GB RAM with dual core intel processors and are running XP Pro.
The issue that they have is the throughput over the network to and from the server seems to be capped to 10MB.
The network card shows that it is connected at 100MBPS.
The Switch in use is a NetGear Prosafe 10/100.
The fastest data transfer I can get from or to the Server is on 10MB or approx 10% of the 100MB
If I transfer any data files from PC to PC over the network, I get almost the full 100MBPS.
The slow transfer only occurs when transferring to or from the Server.
This is causing problems with Sage Payroll as the backup file goes to the server and takes nearly 20 minutes!
If I transfer the backup file to a PC on the network the job is done in under 3!
Any help would be greatly received.
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Question by:ProtecUK
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LVL 6

Expert Comment

by:DanielWillmott
ID: 24163006
Make sure to hard code the speed and duplex of the network card in the server to 100 Mbps/Full. If you are doing this remotely, just make sure you have physical access to the server incase something goes wrong.
In case you're not familiar with this setting:
To hard code, Go to Control panel, Network Connections, <Network Card>
Click properties
Click Configure
Under the Advanced tab there should be something similar to a property called 'Speed & Duplex' Change that to 100/Full and apply the change.
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Author Comment

by:ProtecUK
ID: 24163728
Thanks for the advice. I've accessed the Server remotely and applied the suggested change.
Remote connection has just failed and now can't gain remote access to the Server.
Not a major problem as I'll be on-site by 9am tomorrow morning.
The Setting was configured to 'Auto'.
Will let you know how I get on tomorrow.
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LVL 6

Expert Comment

by:DanielWillmott
ID: 24163790
Usually the NIC will reset and take a few seconds to come back. It's odd that you cannot reconnect since the NIC was connected at 100 Mbps previously.
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Author Comment

by:ProtecUK
ID: 24165820
Hi Daniel,
Rebooted the server and the network connection dropped back in just as I expected.
The throughput however is still limited.
Any other ideas?
All help is greatly appreciated..
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Expert Comment

by:DanielWillmott
ID: 24166540
The only two things I can think of are:
1) Swap the network cable out for a known good Cat 5 or better cable
2) The switch has a management web page. It's unlikely in this model, but does the management page have a way to set the port that the server is on to 100/Full?
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Expert Comment

by:DanielWillmott
ID: 24166639
I looked through the manual for the NetGear and did not see any way to hard code the port speeds. Also, you could try to change to a different port on the switch after trying a different cable.
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Author Comment

by:ProtecUK
ID: 24167783
Hi Dan,
Thanks for the new advice..
The switch is an unmanged and I've already changed the cable.
The cable also gives full throughput when connected elsewhere on the network.
The Switch lights show data transfer is at 100 and ther lights on the network port on the server also green. The issue seems only to relate to data going to or from the server.
I have also tried the secondary network card in the server.. same issue..
It seems that there is some form of limiter in play?
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LVL 6

Expert Comment

by:DanielWillmott
ID: 24167912
I would highly doubt that although it's possible. Check the software installed on the server.
Also - check the Networking tab in Task manager during a file transfer and see what the reported utilization is.
And - what are transfers to the server from the internet like? Are they slow also?
To tell you the truth, 90% of the time setting the NIC speed/duplex fixes issues like this. I'm surprised that didn't help.
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Author Comment

by:ProtecUK
ID: 24167977
Hi Dan,
Just found some more info on this issue at the follwoing address:
http://www.mytechnicallife.com/2008/03/06/windows-2003-scalable-networking-pack-and-nic-drivers/

Dell PowerEdge 2900/2950/1900/1950 servers utilise Broadcom NetXtreme Gigabit Network Cards.
Windows 2003 Service Pack 2 introduces the 'Scalable Network Pack'.
There is a conflict between them.
Suggested fix:
Disable the features of the 'Scalable Network Pack' that are affecting performance.
The easiest way to do this is by issuing the following command at a command prompt:
Netsh int ip set chimney DISABLED
I have implemented the suggestion and will keep you updated on progress.
 
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Expert Comment

by:CoreyMac
ID: 24174437
If you are going to use the Broadcom NICs in the servers with SP2 you should be running recent Broadcom Drivers and firmware/BIOS.  When they are current and are used together, the TCP stack issues are not a problem and overall reliablilty and performance has bee improved.

http://www.broadcom.com/support/ethernet_nic/netxtremeii.php

Don't set the NIC speed manually to 100/Full when using 10/100 unmanaged switches.  It will just hose things up almost every time.  The end of the link set to auto (the switch) will default to 100M/Half duplex and the server will be 100/Full.  So the IEEE spec says that the Half duplex side must count a collision and abort transmission for all packets it receives from the other side while transmitting....  Recipe for disaster...

The IEEE spec for 10/100 has bugs/holes/whatever in the standard for these cases and was never fixed, the vendors just eventually figured out some workarounds for most scenarios.  

Current drivers will negotiate correctly with current switch hardware 99.99%. (nothing is perfect ;-)  )

With a new server and only one NIC, Chimney TCP won't really help much anyway.
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Author Comment

by:ProtecUK
ID: 24174640
Hi CoreyMac,

Many thanks for the information and again, many thanks for the link.
I'm on-site again on monday so I'll implement installation of the updated drivers and firmware.
You are quite correct, Chimney TCP made no difference.
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Expert Comment

by:CoreyMac
ID: 24175735
Once the drivers/firmware are updated (this would include the server BIOS in most cases) make sure the NICs is set to Auto for Speed/Duplex and and that the various TCP CheckSum Offloads are enabled.

If speed is of any importance and if most or at least the server and some clients are GigE equipped,  swapping to a GigE Netgear switch would make large difference in performance.  Even though the GigE is 10X the speed of the 100Mbps, you will typically get 1.5x-3x the performance.  Above 250Mbps there are usually other speed impediments like disk array speeds, client latency, etc....  XP clients and 2003 servers though with a fairly recent drive array can copy at ~500Mbps if the files are large...  

This is the best performance enhancement for the time and money investment when there is a benefit to be had from increased network speed.  The 8-port makes a great test device and show show what kind of performance is possible for very little cost.

http://www.netgear.com/Products/Switches/DesktopSwitches/GS108.aspx?detail=Specifications

*ALWAYS* use Auto Speed/Duplex and FlowControl should be either on or Auto as well for GigE client networks though.  The IEEE spec works well here.

Also the Broadcom Advanced Control Suite is a *very* useful tool for machines with these NICs.  It really allows you to see what is going on with the NIC, catch errors, and on newer servers, you can even test the cable (GigE speeds only as GigE uses all 8 wires).  

Anyway, IMHO this BACS is well worth the install as it effectively "turns on the lights" in the room so that you can see what is happening...  beats fumbling in the dark...  :-)

http://www.broadcom.com/support/ethernet_nic/driver-sla.php?driver=NX2-Mgmt

Installing this should help troubleshoot any remaining issues.
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Author Comment

by:ProtecUK
ID: 24214332
Hi Coreymac,
I've now downloaded and installed all of the updated drivers and firmware.
No difference.
The throughput i still capped at 10%.
Any other ideas that you can think of that I can try?
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Expert Comment

by:CoreyMac
ID: 24234383
Now that you have installed the BACS tool, let's see what it can show you.

What does the BACS show you when you look at the NIC in the server?  You can post screen shots of the statistics pages here to make it easier.  There are several tabs that display the NIC settings and counters and all of them might be helpful.

Does your Dell Broadcom server NIC allow the wiring to be tested?  If the link negotiates to 1000Mbps, then many Broadcoms have the integrated PHY (physical layer) chipset that will do this.  Does the server have two NIC ports?  if so, try moving the IP address to the other NIC port and see if the problem persists.

What model of Dell server do you have?

Here are a few commands to run...

In one window start a continuous PING between the server and a client PC

ping -t -l 1460 [client_pc_IP_x.x.x.x]

let this run to see that no packets are being dropped in the infrastructure or by the NIC while we run these other tests.




While this is running, run this command line in a window

netstat -t  &&  netstat -e

Start a file copy/transfer and in another window then run the listed netstat commands again while the file copy is happening:

netstat -t  &&  netstat -e

after the command has completed, then run them again for the 3rd time and please post the output:

netstat -t  &&  netstat -e


These will show that Chimney is still disabled, and that the errors are not being caused by TCP/IP retransmissions.

Between these and the BACS stats we should get a better feel for where the problem is occurring...

-CoreyMac
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Author Comment

by:ProtecUK
ID: 24236137
Many thanks for the continued advice, I'm on-site again next week and will try the additional recommendations. Many thanks once again for your continued help..
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Accepted Solution

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CoreyMac earned 2000 total points
ID: 24237367
Sure thing.  Good luck next week.

You are getting closer to a solution.

A couple of points are unclear here.  One is that earlier you changed the port speed from Auto to 100/Full and lost connectivity.  Then after the reboot it came back, but did you go back and set the port to Auto?  It should have reset itself back to Auto when you installed the newest drivers, but it is possible it did not.

If the Netgear ProSafe 10/100 is unmanaged, the 100/Full hard coding on the server side is pretty much guaranteed to cause a problem like you are seeing.  If this is the case a reboot should not be required after resetting is back to Auto, but it is possible it might so bear that in mind...

If the duplex is mismatched still, there will be errors on the BACS counters for that server NIC port.  There are still a substantial list of possible failure points, but you seem to have eliminated several.

What versions of the various items are involved?  Server model, Switch model number, Server OS and Service packs, etc...  Have any interim software packages been installed like the MS SNP (Scalable Networking Pack)?  SP2 includes it, but they are not very compatible at times with some NICs.  ("netstat -t" does not work if neither SP2 nor SNP are installed)

Here is a checklist of what I believe you have completed so far and the list of goals...

---------------------------------
*Tests here are assumed to be low overhead, high bandwidth tests like using FTP or windows "COPY /b \\server\share\hugefile.dat nul:"  These will put maximum stress on the wire and avoid testing the disk subsystems...  Note that it helps in the beginning to test in one direction at a time instead of both ways.  In the case of a fast client and server, the Windows file copy is a good test for 100Mbps, but not always for GigE&

Test physical cabling by swapping a new cable for the server and testing the server cable on another machine.  Fast throughput = likely a good cable. (GigE tests all 8 wires, 10/100 only 4 so beware)

Test clients by doing a similar tests between two or more of them to compare.

Test physical ports by changing switch ports and NIC ports where possible to ensure that each component is tested and confirmed healthy as a separate device where possible.

The status of the duplex/speed and Chimney are not yet confirmed.  Chimney cant be easily checked on 2003, but the "netstat -t" can at least show if any offloads are happening.  Duplex and Speed can be checked via the BACS as well as looking for errors.


----------------------------

Things that can still be tested...  

Connectivity to another model of switch in case there is some strange issue with the one you are using. (this seems unlikely, but if you can temporarily swap the switch for a client and the server that would help isolate)  You can connect the test switch to the existing Netgear so that other machines can still see the clients/server if needed during the test since the traffic in question will stay on the test switch.  It would be best if this switch were a GigE switch so that the NIC port and wires can be tested with the BACS utility, but another 10/100 unmanaged switch should work as well.

Testing another port on the server in case of a port failure issue being present.

What other software night be running on the server?  Firewall software, Host Security software, Network IDS, Network Admission Control, or Web Filters?  Anything you can share here could help...  Lots of these types of programs can interfere with network throughput.

As you probably know, the reasons for the various tests are to isolate the problem to a particular component.  There is no reason this should not work so I am certain you can get it resolved.  Once the problem is solved, it might be worth swapping the switch to GigE as that should reduce the backup/copy times by at least 50% and if the disk subsystems are fast enough on both ends, then even more speed improvements are possible.

One more element to keep in mind.  If throughput is an issue, then whena workstation is able to fill up the server 100Mbps link, all other clients are now congested.  If at least the server is on a 1Gbps link then each client can still have their 100Mbps and not have to be affected by the others...
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Author Comment

by:ProtecUK
ID: 24310309
Hi CoreyMac,
Finally got a resolution...
I forgot to set the port back to Auto..
The issue now seems to be resolved!
Many thanks for all of your continued support and assistance.
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LVL 6

Expert Comment

by:CoreyMac
ID: 24311605
Glad things are working for you.

Have a good week....

-CoreyMac
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