Is it possible to buy PCI Gigabit Switch? or convert a 4 port PCI Nic into a Gigabit switch?

Posted on 2014-08-06
Last Modified: 2016-10-25

We are trying to conserve rackspace and was wondering if it is possible to use a 4 port gigabit NIC as a switch or if it is possible to buy a gigabit network switch as a PCI express card.

The situation is this, we current collocate a number of 1ru Dell R610' servers in different datacenters. All Servers are running XenServer and within XenServer we have a virtualized security appliance (netscaler) running.

Rather than expose everything to the internet, we would like to connect our WAN drop to the NIC port used for the netscaler as an inbound connection, and use another NIC port as the internal connection from the Netscaler to internal resources such as the iDrac port and the XenServer Management port.

We have attempted to use virtualized switch appliance but, this still required the XenServer Management port to be exposed to the internet to make everything work. The solution is to use a physical switch, but it seem expensive to purchase an additional RU space just for a small switch.

We were wondering if anyone had any ideas on how this problem could be solved.

Question by:PlumInternet
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    Expert Comment

    by:Don Johnston
    We are trying to conserve rackspace and was wondering if it is possible to use a 4 port gigabit NIC as a switch or if it is possible to buy a gigabit network switch as a PCI express card.
    You can bridge the ports, but it's not going to have anywhere near the performance of an actual switch.
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    Assisted Solution

    by:John Hurst
    I do not know if you have access to the back of the rack. You can get a 3-Com (was HP) 8-port Gigabit switch that is very good, inexpensive and not a whole lot bigger than a large smart phone. It might squeeze in the back of one of your racks.

    Virtualizing such exceptional performance into a computer or NIC will not provide the speed, I don't think (as also was noted above).

    Author Comment

    Hi Don and John,

    Thanks for your suggestions. The small switch might be an option, If I can find really short cat5e cables ie <10cm It should be able to just hang of the back of the server.

    LVL 89

    Expert Comment

    by:John Hurst
    You can get 12 inch (I think) and 18 inch cables (for sure). You need a source of AC power of course.

    I have a couple of these switches and they perform well.
    LVL 55

    Accepted Solution

    by: (but whether you can find one for retail sale is dubious since they're normally built into special purpose servers.

    Note it's 5 port since one of the ports is accessed through PCIe.
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    Assisted Solution

    Or if you have a PCI-X slot available then HP NC150T PCI 4-port Gigabit Combo Switch Adapter.

    Note they are as fast as a conventional switch because they are conventional switches, they just get their power from the PCI bus.

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