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Benchmarking Mac II NuBus Networking (A/ROSE, OpenTransport)

demik

Well-known member
Hello everyone,

One item on my todo list was to benchmark Apple NuBus A/ROSE Ethernet card. A/ROSE is a small Operating System that that runs on some NuBus cards. A/ROSE NuBus cards have their on 68k CPU (usually a 68000 @ 10 MHz) that should offload the main CPU on a Mac II.

People reported hat the A/ROSE card was superior in performance and that the computer felt snappier with this card in it. But how much is it ?

Benchmark

The benchmark files set consists of 37 random files (Application, SimpleText and AppleGuide files, etc…) for a total size of about 3 MB.
Each runs consisted of uploading the folder to a server and downloading it again.
For each run, I rebooted the Client computer and did the test multiples times, and averaged the results.

All tests were done using stock 7.5.5 drivers and AppleShare Clients, using the AppleTalk Protocol (no TCP/IP used)
The Apple Ethernet card was compared to a more classic Asanté Ethernet card

Both client and servers were directly connected to an entreprise grade network switch with ports speed set to auto
- The server was connected with a 100 Mbps full duplex link
- The client was connected will a 10 Mbps half duplex link

Client Configuration

For this benchmark, Mac OS 7.5.3 was reinstalled from scratch on the "client" computer, with updates up to 7.5.5.

Macintosh IIcx
CPU: 68030 @ 16 MHz
RAM: 8 MB
Virtual Memory: on
HDD: 36GB SCA 15k RPM SCSI Drive
OS: 7.5.5

Server Configuration

Beige G3 µATX build
CPU: G3 @ 500 MHz
RAM: 640 MB
HDD: 36 GB UW 10k RPM SCSI Drive (on Adaptec 2940UW)
OS: Debian 8 + Custom 4.14.222 kernel + Netatalk 2.5.5 + AppleTalk stack
NIC: 3Com Corporation 3c905B "Cyclone"

Ethernet Cards​

Card 1
Apple Ethernet NB Card
Part number: 820-0417-C
ROM version: 341-0246
Build date: 1991

IMG_6072.jpeg

Card 2
Asanté Technologies MC3NB
Part number: MC3NB(ST-NIC-V) Rev B1
ROM version: 000094-04E0D8 024-09-A
Build date: 1991

IMG_6070.jpeg

Note: ROM has been dumped here

Table of results

24b / 32b: Mac OS is running in 24bit or 32bit mode
OT: Mac OS is tuning with the OpenTransport network stack
Classic: Mac OS is running with the Classic network stack

Test / Benchmark timeApple A/ROSEAsanté MC3NB
24b OT Upload60.255.3
24b OT Download45.839.0
32b OT Upload55.155.1
32b OT Download37.138.8
24b Classic Upload38.028.6
24b Classic Download27.023.3
32b Classic Upload32.828.7
32b Classic Download23.423.5

Graphs

Times to copy in seconds, lower is better

1626175291788.png

Conclusion​

Well hmmm... That's some interesting results...

The A/ROSE Ethernet card is slightly slower than the Asanté one on average.

What is more interesting though, is that OpenTransport doesn't play well on CPU constrained Macs. Both cards are noticeably faster without OpenTransport.
The A/ROSE card is also slower in 24 bits mode

While the A/ROSE card is slower here, during the benchmark I indeed noticed that the screen redrawing was faster during Network Access. Maybe the result are different in others Macs, or Network Servers were the background CPU usage is higher. What's possible is that the CPU usage for the A/ROSE card is lower but the overall latency might be higher (your network data has to go through two CPUs), although I don't know how to check this. It may be interesting to check this in another Mac just for science

Final conclusion
If you want more performance, the network card doesn't matter, the network stack does.
 

trag

Well-known member
Nice set of tests.

Not especially relevant, but I was just looking at this yesterday. The AROSE hardware is described a bit in TI's document Nubus_Interface_Products_1991 which is available on Bitsavers. I'll upload a copy here as well. Might be interesting to see a block diagram of how an AROSE card is built.
 

Attachments

  • Nubus_Interface_Products_1991.pdf
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jeremywork

Well-known member
The biggest advantage I've found when using the A/ROSE card is that its host system will respond nearly as quickly under load as it will when idle. Practically, this only matters when I'm connected to the A/ROSE "server" computer from a different "remote" Mac and transferring files using the remote Finder. If I were to use a standard Nubus Ethernet card instead, the server computer will suddenly take lots of extra time to execute even simple navigation tasks during transfers, even if the file transfer speed is nearly the same.
 

demik

Well-known member
Not especially relevant, but I was just looking at this yesterday. The AROSE hardware is described a bit in TI's document Nubus_Interface_Products_1991 which is available on Bitsavers. I'll upload a copy here as well.
Interesting read, thanks !

The biggest advantage I've found when using the A/ROSE card is that its host system will respond nearly as quickly under load as it will when idle. Practically, this only matters when I'm connected to the A/ROSE "server" computer from a different "remote" Mac and transferring files using the remote Finder. If I were to use a standard Nubus Ethernet card instead, the server computer will suddenly take lots of extra time to execute even simple navigation tasks during transfers, even if the file transfer speed is nearly the same.

That's my opinion as well. While the transfert speed is a little slower, the finder was faster and more responsible when the IIcx is used as a server. It definitively uses less CPU
 
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