Every person on the internet has experienced lag… the feeling of frustration while waiting for something online. It’s not that big a deal when waiting for a download or web page, but can be absolutely critical when playing an online PC game. Humans can perceive less than 16 milliseconds of delay (60fps is equal to 60hz, which is equal to 16ms). In the world of PC gaming, interactivity is one of the major key elements, so any perceptible amount of delay can make the game unplayable, or ruin your scores.
Bigfoot Networks tried to tackle this problem a few years ago with their Killer NIC (Network Interface Card). This card used a PCI bus, a dedicated processor, and even a full-blown Linux kernel to offload network processing. Bigfoot made some hefty promises about eliminating lag in online games, but sadly the majority of lag problems cannot be handled at the client level. Not only was the product essentially ineffective, but came with a high price tag… and as a result landed as #3 on OCModShop’s list of Worst 11 Technologies of All Time.
I was invited to speak with the guys at Bigfoot Networks to discuss their new product, the Killer Xeno Network Card. Harlan Beverly (Chief Technology Officier) and Sean McCann (Product Marketing Manager) sat down with me to unveil the new product, and to set the record straight about their previous Killer NIC.
To address the Pink Elephant in the room, Harlan started off by admitting that they “over-promised” on the original Killer NIC. They maintain that the LLR (Lag and Latency Reduction) technology was sound, and does in fact improve ping times by bypassing the network stack, but admitted that much of network lag is beyond the control of the network card.
Bigfoot Networks is starting to become a major player in the PC gaming market, as they have landed OEM contracts with Dell, Falcon Northwest, and Alienware. These companies will be implementing Killer Xeno cards in their respective lines of gaming computers, which currently make up to 40% of the pre-built gaming market. Harlan said that they will be focusing on the add-on card market very soon, releasing their Xeno Ultimate card in May.
Bigfoot is trying to make this second-generation Killer NIC more attractive to buyers with a new lower price and more features. To start, the new Killer Xeno will be $129… less than half the cost of the original Killer NIC. The card can be make cheaper, because the architecture is simpler.
|Bigfoot Killer Xeno Features