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In the age of web video conferences, internet voice calls, and multiplayer gaming death matches, almost everybody wants faster internet service. And that’s a good thing for Bigfoot Networks, which has carved out a unique role in creating hardware that accelerates network speeds.
Bigfoot has been making network cards and chips that can speed your internet performance as much as ten-fold. And today, in a sneak preview, the company is announcing that it can accelerate the performance of broadband wireless networks. That means that Bigfoot will now reach far beyond game fans to consumers and enterprise customers who want to get a no-compromise internet experience, even on wireless PC networks.
If this takes off, Bigfoot could become a much bigger player in the PC chip business, and consumers won’t have to endure as many frustrating internet slowdowns while using laptops on Wi-Fi networks.
Bigfoot CEO Michael Howse showed me a demo at the company’s headquarters in Redwood City, Calif. The Killer Wireless technology can handle heavy networking loads, such as playing a high-definition video at the same time Howse was downloading a 10-gigabyte file. It works great over Wi-Fi networks such as the ubiquitous 802.11n wireless protocol.
Experts believe that real-time internet traffic will grow by 700 percent over the next three years. That means we’ll see a spike in bandwidth-hogging applications such as gaming, video streaming and voice calls.
In these applications, network latency (response time) means a lot. In games, you get more kills in a multiplayer combat game if you have a good connection, or no “lag.” With video conferencing, there is less stuttering, image blurring, and slowdown if you have good response times. And in Skype calls, better network connectivity means that your call clarity is good and you don’t lose calls.
“This allows us to address a larger audience,” Howse said.”We want to de-mystify the notion that we only build Killer NIC products for gamers.”
Bigfoot Networks plans to launch the Killer Wireless technology as a mini PCIe card, which can be plugged into a laptop. At least eight laptop companies plan to launch their machines with the card when it becomes available in late February, Howse said. The technology basically speeds up the performance of your wireless network so you don’t have to wait so long for rich media to arrive on your computer.
In the past few years, Bigfoot Networks has become very good at optimizing a network for the fastest possible speed. It can deliver packets coming in from the web in .71 milliseconds, compared to 22.5 milliseconds for a normal network card. The average latency is 13 times better with a Bigfoot Networks solution. Bigfoot Networks created its Killer NIC network cards for hardcore gamers, who spared no expense in making their machines and networks faster for online games. It used a technology called Visual Bandwidth Control, which lets you take control of your broadband connection. You can prioritize the traffic coming through your system so that a video stream or conference call gets the highest priority in traveling through your system.
The Killer Wireless announcement is the latest in a string of big business deals and innovations for Bigfoot. In December, Bigfoot Networks launched its Killer e2100 solution that motherboard vendors could integrate directly into a graphics card. That enabled the Killer HD5770 graphics card from VisionTek, the first graphics card that combined Advanced Micro Devices graphics and a high-performance network accelerator in a single card.
And at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas last month, Bigfoot Networks announced alliances with the three largest makers of motherboards, the main system boards in computers. Gigabyte, Asus and MSI all said that they would integrate Bigfoot’s Killer E2100 chip directly on their system boards. Howse said that Bigfoot might be able to get its chips into network routers in the second half of the year, expanding its push into new markets.
All of that means that Bigfoot Networks will have an expanding role in the PC. Big chip makers such as Intel, AMD, and Nvidia are sure to take notice.