smartNIC - Page
The smartNIC performs admirably in situations where large
file transfers are not required. For example, I could
see no noticeable degradation in performance compared
to the Xircom Credit Card 10/100 Ethernet Adapter while
checking mail and surfing the Internet in the university
is also much cheaper in comparison to the PCMCIA cards
issued to users and professionals frequently on the move.
As a comparison, the smartNIC retails at S$128 whereas
my Xircom Credit Card retails at S$300. This fact, coupled
with its performance mentioned above, could effectively
lower an organisation's TCO (Total Cost of Ownership).
With PCMCIA cards, notebook users have problems with lost
dongles and broken cable connectors. A product like the
smartNIC could be the solution. Another plus is that its
relatively small size makes its use unobtrusive and the
device easily fits inside a compartment in any notebook
being a USB device, the device frees up a precious PCMCIA
slot. This is especially important to users of slim line
notebooks like the Acer TravelMate 330 and the Sharp Actius
250, which only have 1 PC Card slot to boast.
smartNIC is attractive to the mobile user but desktop
computer users need not apply here. With S$128 spent on
a smartNIC, I could get almost three excellent 10/100
DFE-540TX NICs from D-Link. As such, the smartNIC is not
a viable NIC replacement.
smartNIC, being a USB device in nature, has a theoretical
maximum transfer rate of 8Mbps. This pales in comparison
to traditional NICs and LAN PCMCIA cards which offer 10/100Mbps
transfer rates (100Mbps is also another highly theoretical
number). From the benchmarks, the differences are quite
obvious. In addition, my experience with the TravelMate
330 has proven that USB device compatibility might be
a problem for some systems. There is also noticeable degradation
in performance due to USB bandwidth sharing among devices.
concern is that the smartNIC must be used in an 10Mbps
or auto-switching 10/100Mbps Ethernet network. This is
an important factor if your company, school or private
network does not support auto-switching and runs at only
100Mbps. I especially didn't like the idea of stepping
down my 100Mbps home network to 10Mbps.
support is another point in consideration. At this point,
only Windows98/98SE is supported. The manufacturers have
no immediate plans to launch drivers for Windows 95 OSR2.1
and Windows 2000 RC2. However, smartBridges has promised
driver support for Windows 2000 after its official release.
Of course, users of NT (lack of USB support) and Linux
are also out of luck.