Hi Claudio -
Unfortunately, I get Watchdog timeouts with sk0 under M0n0wall, as well
as FreeBSD 5.4 and 6. There is something wrong with the sk0 driver, I
think. As regards the rl driver, here is what the author of the driver
has to say about it in /sys/pci/if_rl.c (the source file):
* The RealTek 8139 PCI NIC redefines the meaning of 'low end.' This is
* probably the worst PCI ethernet controller ever made, with the possible
* exception of the FEAST chip made by SMC. The 8139 supports bus-master
* DMA, but it has a terrible interface that nullifies any performance
* gains that bus-master DMA usually offers.
* For transmission, the chip offers a series of four TX descriptor
* registers. Each transmit frame must be in a contiguous buffer, aligned
* on a longword (32-bit) boundary. This means we almost always have to
* do mbuf copies in order to transmit a frame, except in the unlikely
* case where a) the packet fits into a single mbuf, and b) the packet
* is 32-bit aligned within the mbuf's data area. The presence of only
* four descriptor registers means that we can never have more than four
* packets queued for transmission at any one time.
* Reception is not much better. The driver has to allocate a single large
* buffer area (up to 64K in size) into which the chip will DMA received
* frames. Because we don't know where within this region received packets
* will begin or end, we have no choice but to copy data from the buffer
* area into mbufs in order to pass the packets up to the higher protocol
* It's impossible given this rotten design to really achieve decent
* performance at 100Mbps, unless you happen to have a 400Mhz PII or
* some equally overmuscled CPU to drive it.
* On the bright side, the 8139 does have a built-in PHY, although
* rather than using an MDIO serial interface like most other NICs, the
* PHY registers are directly accessible through the 8139's register
* space. The 8139 supports autonegotiation, as well as a 64-bit multicast
* The 8129 chip is an older version of the 8139 that uses an external PHY
* chip. The 8129 has a serial MDIO interface for accessing the MII where
* the 8139 lets you directly access the on-board PHY registers. We need
* to select which interface to use depending on the chip type.
So, I would consider different cards!