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AGC: The Killer Network Interface Card

Interviews By Jon Wood on September 16, 2006

AGC Interview: Bigfoot Networks

The folks at Bigfoot tell us about The Killer Network Interface Card

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Conferences like the one that we attended in Austin aren’t always about games, sometimes it’s about hardware. Now, I have to say up front that hardware isn’t really my thing. Some days I’m lucky if I know how the computer runs, and what RAM is. Ok, I’ve over-stating myself a little bit here, but let’s just say that it’s not my area of expertise.

On Friday, I had the chance to sit down with the guys from Bigfoot Networks to talk about their newest product: The Killer Network Interface Card. I’ve seen their ads around the web and they made me curious. I’ve got to say though, that even though I thought it looked cool, I wasn’t sure what it was for. Then, they really cleared it up for me with one word. Lag.

Lag has always been one of the most frustrating things for me to deal with as a player of online games. There have even been times when that one little thing has stopped me from playing any and all online games. I can only assume that many of you out there have had a similar experience.

The Killer NIC helps out in two ways: ping and frames per second. The former gets lower, while the latter gets higher.

Another interesting thing that I learned was that this card is more versatile than your run-of-the-mill network card. For example, users can write their own programs on the card, creating a kind of “Linux computer within a computer”. Programs like TeamSpeak, Ventrillo and even Bit Torrent that usually eat away at a game’s performance can be compiled to run through this new card. It even comes with an external USB 2.0 port so that you can plug in an external hard drive.

The card, I was told, was designed to help people in a raid-type situation where you have lots of monsters and players all moving on-screen at the same time. This is where I am told that the card shines and really shows its worth, reducing the lag that is common in those situations.

When you’re talking about high-scale raid content, you can’t help but think of World of WarCraft. As an example, the guys gave me the Killer’s performance numbers for that game. According to Bigfoot, as well as outside reviewers, the game sees about 9 milliseconds of improvement in latency and a 41% improvement in frames per second. You don’t have to be a hardware guru to see that, if the card holds up to its reviews and hype, it has the potential to make online gaming a less frustrating experience for all involved.


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