Sometimes you just need physical ports. That is exactly what the Silicom PE2G6I35-R sets out to achieve as a 6x 1GbE NIC. While a single 10GbE port can easily provide more bandwidth these days, there are many applications where one simply wants physical network ports. Many colocation providers, for example, have low-cost 1GbE unmetered plans these days so the network drop(s) are copper. One may have a firewall/ VPN appliance where there are management networks on separate 1GbE switches or something like that. The Silicom PE2G6I35-R is designed to answer that need.
Silicom PE2G6I35-R Overview
The PE2G6I35-R is a large card. While one may be accustomed to seeing quad-port NICs in a low-profile footprint, with six network ports we need to have a full-height card. Also, this card is a PCIe Gen2 x8 card which means we have a bigger PCIe connector than many of the smaller NICs. Physically, it is just a large card.
While that heatsink may look large, looks can be deceiving. The large black heatsink does not go all the way to the PCB. Instead, there are metal blocks and thermal pads which transfer heat from the Intel i350-am4, i350-am2, and PCIe switch to the heatsink. We do not often see heatsink designs like this where the heat transfer pads and blocks are taller than the actual heatsink. In either case, this is a relatively low power card so Silicom does not need much cooling. This design just helps ensure very minimal airflow is needed.
As a quick aside here, this may be a black heatsink as one sees on the Silicom website, but here is the card from the site and one can see a much larger black heatsink. Our sense is that Silicom realized that it simply did not need that much cooling capacity.
Here is the rear of the card.
The ports are neatly labeled from port 0 to port 5. As you can see, they fill the PCIe I/O plate so there is no way to have this be a low-profile card.
OS compatibility for these cards is great. One uses the standard Intel igbe drivers. These cards show up as Intel i350 NIC ports in OSes and with modern OSes there will be an out-of-box driver. What is more, we expect these NICs will have many years of driver support to come as the Intel i350 is an extremely popular solution. Even if you have not heard of Silicom, from a software standpoint these cards are similar to the Intel i350 NICs found on many motherboards.
Next we are going to have the key specs and a word on the brand. On the last page we will have performance, power, and our final words.
Silicom NICs and the ones from Interface Masters are high quality products, and if you dont need the Boot-ROM functionality, they are a reliable replacement for Intel original NICs.
Plus there are Models with SFP-cages which can accept a 1000Base-BX BiDi Module for FTTH scenarios (they are not finicky with transceivers.. MSA standard), this way you can directly plug the fiber to the Endpoint or Firewall/Routing Appliance.
What’s the point of this card these days?
I wish this was a gen3 x4 card instead of gen2 x8.