Networking Driver Performance and Measurement - e1000 A Case Study

Networking performance is a popular topic in Linux and is becoming more critical for achieving good overall system performance. This paper takes a look at what was done in the e1000 driver to improve performance by (a) increasing throughput and (b) reducing of CPU utilization. A lot of work has gone into the e1000 Ethernet driver as well into the PRO/1000 Gigabit Ethernet hardware in regard to both of these performance attributes. This paper covers the major things that were done to both the driver and to the hardware to improve many of the aspects of Ethernet network performance. The paper covers performance improvements due to the contribution from the Linux community and from the Intel group responsible for both the driver and hardware. The paper describes optimizations to improve small packet performance for applications like packet routers, VoIP, etc. and those for standard and jumbo packets and how those modifications differs from the small packet optimizations. A discussion on the tools and utilities used to measure performance and ideas for other tools that could help to measure performance are presented. Some of the ideas may require help from the community for refinement and implementation.

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