I hate to admit it, but Intel’s NIC drivers are awfully nice

So we had some servers that were acting squirrelly on the network, refusing to talk to some servers but not others, dropping off entirely, etc. One of my coworkers noticed the servers acting badly were running different versions of the NIC driver than the ones that were behaving.

I found some other servers that had 10/100 cards in them that were using drivers that dated back to the Clinton administration.Here’s the nice thing. Intel keeps drivers available, and updates them on a pretty regular basis. Even those old 10/100 NICs had drivers available that were dated 2007. And they were Windows 2000 compatible, even!

Here’s the even nicer thing. We updated them hot, and they didn’t require a reboot. In a couple of cases, we even updated them remotely, via Terminal Services, and somehow didn’t lose our connection. (Don’t count on that always working.)

I always thought Intel NICs were overrated. Sure, given a choice between Intel and, say, D-Link, it’s no contest. But Intel vs. Broadcom or 3Com? The one guy qualified to comment on that (Linux NIC driver author Donald Becker) has no opinion. But I’ve never heard of being able to change a NIC driver in Windows and just keep on trucking along.

Chalk one up for Intel.

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