Wednesday, July 26, 2006

No PCI Express NICs in PCI Express Graphics Slots?

I own a Shuttle SB81P that has a 32 bit 33 Mhz PCI slot, and a 16x PCI Express slot. Earlier I asked if anyone was using the Intel PRO/1000 PT Dual Port Server Adapter, since I wanted to use that NIC in the PCI Express slot.

It turns out that I cannot use that NIC in my Shuttle. I got a sense that it might not work when I noticed the Shuttle documentation called the 16x slot a "PCI Express Graphics (PEG)" slot.

I inserted the 4x NIC into the 16x slot, but I could never get the Shuttle to recognize it. I even followed helpful advice from this VMware thread pointing me to Intel's ibautil.exe, which is a DOS utility that probes for Intel cards (among other tasks). It didn't see the PCI Express NIC.

I eventually took the NIC to my friend Hank at NetWitness, and we put the NIC into the PCI Express slot of a Dell 850 server. I booted the server with a FreeBSD 6.1 install CD, and then started a shell. Sure enough, FreeBSD detected em0 and em1 -- two new Intel Pro NICs.

This is probably a stretch, but is anyone using PCI Express NICs in Shuttles? I'm considering buying a new Shuttle, if I can find one that has at least one PCI Express slot that accepts PCI Express NICs. It seems Shuttles like the SB95P V2 have 16x slots (probably for PEG/video) and 1x, which doesn't help me with the 4x Intel Pro NIC.

Alternatively, is anyone using PCI Express NICs in any PCI Express slots that are presumably for graphics cards?


higB said...

I have an older shuttle that I have 2 USB (linksys) 10/100 Nic cards connected to. They seem to work fine for the basic tcpdump stuff I do with them.
This is obviously not an enterprise solution. ;)

Joe said...

The PCI Express slot in your shuttle and many other boards are dedicated (hardwired) to the graphics bus of your chipset. Motherboard manufacturers are adding one 16x and a few 4x slots to motherboards these days. The 16x are almost exclusively reserved for the graphics bus.

So, you will need to find a board that has an additional pci express slot, such as a 4x or higher. Note that a 4x card can run in an 8x or 16x also, but not a 16x on the graphics bus.

Richard Bejtlich said...

higB, right on. I have one of those too. Not bad in an emergency. When you are going to update your blog?

Joe, thanks for the definitive answer. I bet I will not find a Shuttle that has two general-purpose PCI Express slots.

Anonymous said...

yeah higB, when'r you gonna update your blog? It's been ages. I miss you guys. :)

Joe said...


I could not find any desktop boards with 4x slots. I did notice that Tyan and other server boards have 4x slots though.

Richard Bejtlich said...

Joe, you just made me check if Intel has a 1x PCI Express NIC. It does, the Intel® PRO/1000 PT Desktop Adapter. They don't see a dual port version for a 1x slot apparently.

Anonymous said...

I've used the Intel Pro-1000x4 PCI-express16 in a shuttle p2/27. All the ports get recognized. This is running Solaris 10x86/64 bit.

Also an Qlogic QLE4060 ISCSI card.

pci compliance said...

Great post!