how many packets can 1GB network card can transfer per second

Posted on 2010-09-22
Last Modified: 2012-05-10
how many packets can 1 GB network card can transfer per second.

I have a Network performace graph which shows one of our virtual server has transferred 10,500 packets per second at some point of time. is that normal?

we have 4Gb ethernet card shared by all vm servers
Question by:sangate
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Expert Comment

ID: 33739304
Believe it or not that is actually a pretty tough question.  It all depends on the size of the packets you are transferring frame type  and what type of network card you are using, etc...

10,500 packets a roughly an average ( i am guessing ) of 1500 bits per packet just a little more than 125Mbs.  So you are only using 1.25/10 of that 1Gb card.  

For more info on calculating PPS you can read here:

Accepted Solution

devinnoel earned 167 total points
ID: 33739307
That is a little bit of a loaded question. Packet size can mess with that number drastically.

  • Ethernet has a minimum packet size of 64 bytes
  • Standard Ethernet frames can be up to 1500 bytes
  • Jumbo Ethernet frames can be up to 9000 bytes
A GB is 1,073,741,824 bits per second, which gives us:
  • 2097152 64 byte packets
  • 89,478 1500 byte packets
  • 14,913 9000 byte packets
So unless my math fails me, ya, it is possible. Not likely under most usage conditions, but possible.

Expert Comment

ID: 33739309
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Expert Comment

ID: 33739334
The number of packets is never a good way to figure out your network speed.  Packets are of different size depending of the protocol used.

If you want a real graph, you should use network tools for that.  

Anyway, one thing for sure, you will have a lot of loos in performance for the network as you are using VM because there is a software processing between the NIC and the guest OS.

Expert Comment

ID: 33739426
Ya, packets per second is definitely a poor indicator of performance, at least without the context of other metrics.

I would disagree with MaxterJF's usage of "lot", but VMware overhead will decrease throughput a bit, again depending on what you are doing.
LVL 24

Expert Comment

ID: 33739851
additionally, do not expect to get 1Gbps on a LAN with 1500 byte packets; theoretically, expect about 940 Mbps using TCP and about 960Mbps with UDP. As already indicated, larger the packet (MTU), the better the performance. Average packet size on the Internet is about 540 - 800 bytes using http (TCP), so depending on the protocol, payload size, and other factors can increase/decrease your performance.

There is plenty of white papers available, but for the most part that should get you going as well with the other recommendations that have been posted.


Assisted Solution

mooodiecr earned 166 total points
ID: 33746279
It all boils down to what information are you trying to obtain from looking at packet counts.  There are different types of network performance.  Overall throughput of the network card, processing per frame of the network card and Rx/Tx balance performance.

Throughput:  How much of that 4Gb pipe can you actually utilize?

PPF (Processing Per Frame):  Some network cards or systems running network cards even at a slower rate will out perform a faster card simply by being able to handle packets or frames faster.   Such as a 1Gb vs. 100Mb.  If the 100Mb card has better processing algorithms it will perform better with more but smaller packets.  Where the 1Gb card will  process larger packets better and provide a better throughput.  I am not a fan of Cisco but they hands down have the best ratio performance of all the different tests we have done.

Rx/Tx Balance:  Packet priority is more of what this is.  Will the network card prioritize a fragmented frame before sending a new or even a responsive call to a different server etc.

Assisted Solution

expert1010 earned 167 total points
ID: 33746333

To answere your question. Normal. Well, it's not unnormal. But you have to give us more info on the setup to actually say if it should be like that. The problem with packet sizes in an IP network (it sounds as the comments focus on that) is that it depends heavily on what the equipment is used for. So. What does this machine do?

Packets per second (pps) is quite relevant if you are forwarding packets in a router/firewall or similar situation. It's not very relevant if you have more computation overhead of the data in the packets. For instance in a web server.

As an example.  I have a test platform (open source router based on Linux) with 10x10Gbit/s (100Gbit/s) in a PC (x86) and I can max that out to get about 98Gbit/s if no application is in its way (I got my own kernel drivers and such). But if I try to forward the packets on this platform with normal OS installed I get down to 26.8Gbit/s, if I take in account a normal IMIX (internet mix of packet sizes) that is ruffly 64, 384 and 1500 bytes big. The distribution of these packets are 60%, 25% and 15%.

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