Dell PowerEdge 6800 network performance problems on Windows Server 2008

Not long ago I had to troubleshoot a very strange issue at customer site. It was on a DELL PE6800 server. It was running Windows 2003 x64 Server for a long time without any issues. Customer clean installed Windows Server 2008 x64 from the October 2008 DELL DVD. The network performance “went bananas” – we had NIC utilization of 1-10% although sometimes it appeared to be working fine. The server has 2 onboard Broadcom NetXtreme I NICs. After doing some digging we found out this was a driver issue. The NIC was not performing on the DELL provided driver – regardless whether using the driver from DELL DVD or website). The same was true when we used WS2008 DVD driver (Microsoft being the vendor for that driver).

The driver that fixes the issue can be found on the Broadcom site: http://www.broadcom.com/support/ethernet_nic/driver-sla.php?driver=570x-2008-x86-64.

This is apparently a big mistake of DELL and Microsoft for shipping a driver as certified on the WS2008 platform, when in fact one can notice it’s poor performance immediately after install.

I hope that if someone hits this issue he/she will stumble on that post, since I spent an entire day doing things like tuning TCPIP in WS2008 to work like WS2003 (netsh interface tcp global, removing NIC advanced features – offlading, duplex, speed), testing with robocopy/explorer etc.), disabling IPMI over LAN, updating drivers and firmware as well as testing on another server of the same model and make.

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~ by alipka on December 17, 2008.

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