Indigo 2 100MB Network Card Installation

About a year ago I purchased a 3COM 3C597-TX card from the USA at a very good price but unfortunately I didn’t get a chance to install the card in the Silicon Graphics Indigo 2 before the power supply broke.

This card is an EISA 100MB network card. Standard networking on the Indigo 2 only stretches to 10MB. The alternatives (from wikipedia) are:

10Mb on-board LAN interface, 100Mb LAN options were available from 3rd parties, either via EISA or GIO64 expansion cards. The two most known and widely used Indigo2 network cards are 3Com 3C597-TX 100Mbit EISA Card, and the Phobos G160 GIO64. The second one offers better overall performance due to using the superior GIO64 bus, which also has the effect of reducing the CPU utilization due to DMA transfers.


I thought I’d use installation of the card as a general excuse to take some photos of both the exterior and interior of the box, so here goes!

Post installation there is some additional work to do. The card itself doesn’t come with any drivers, but if you do a google search you come across some initial information on Alex’s SGI page. This tells of a company called Phobos that sold a re-badged 3C597 with some ROM changes for a substantial premium. It is possible, by following the instructions on Ian Mapleson’s website, to install a patched set of drivers which bypass the ROM restrictions and allow a vanilla 3COM card to be used. The drivers are patched into the kernel which then requires a reboot. As I found out the driver is also sensitive to which EISA slot the card is plugged in to.

Anyway, after all this everything is working very nicely, and although with the EISA bus I won’t get full 100MB it will be substantially better than the standard 10MB ethernet device.