Problems with VIA vr device/driver (possibly O/T)

Seth Henry jshamlet at
Fri Oct 17 12:15:34 PDT 2003

Has anyone had any issues with the vr device driver, or the VIA Rhine 
ethernet adapter? I recently built an Internet gateway box using FreeBSD 
4.8-REL. I used a 3Com 3C905C-TX board for the internal interface, and used 
the internal vr interface for the external interface (to the cable modem). I 
have noted in the past that sometimes this device has "issues", particularly 
under load.

When I was using this ITX board as an X terminal, sometimes it would "hang" 
for a few seconds. Eventually,  it would work - but it could be a bit 
annoying. I wasn't sure if it was a problem with the chip, or just the CPU 
load. The little CPU's on these boards aren't screamers by any means.

Now, I have noticed that the interface is stable when using SSH alone, but 
if I try to window X applications through it, it will randomly hang both 
itself AND the cable modem. I have a COM21 cable modem, and when I come home 
(after losing connectivity) I find it has locked up, and it seems to believe 
that there is no LAN cable attached (which there is). That is why I'm 
posting from a hotmail account. My connection home is dead again...

I suspect the PHY is crapping out under load, leading the cable modem to 
believe it is disconnected, then coming back up with a load of data in its 
buffers, blasting the poor cable modem into oblivion. I can't tell if this 
is just a lousy chip, a defective mainboard, or what. It only occurs when 
the interface is under a fair outbound load. I've downloaded huge files (ISO 
images) with no problems, but uploads cause trouble.

I somehow doubt this is a FreeBSD problem, so I'm going to note it as 
"off-topic", but I'd be curious to hear about other people's experiences 
with this device. Either way, I've already got a dual PCI riser in this 
chassis, so I'm going to stuff another 3Com card in to replace the onboard 
LAN port.

Seth Henry

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