The Final Ethernet - Frequently Asked Questions

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What is the TFE and was is it good for?

The TFE is a fully functional design of an Ethernet cartridge for the Commodore 64. A TFE cartridge makes it possible to connect the C64 to a local area Ethernet network, or a broadband connection such as a cable modem or an ADSL modem.

Will the TFE be avaliable and how much will it cost?

We're sorry, but we have no plans to start manufacturing TFE cartridges. We made this mostly to "scratch an itch" - we knew it was possible to do an Ethernet cartridge for the C64. Still, nobody had done it, so we just had to do it!

Our design is freely avaliable however and anyone is free to build a TFE for own use or to start manufacturing them and sell. We have only produced two prototype cards, mostly for our own use (and for running our server).

How much work is needed to produce a TFE cartridge?

The TFE itself is quite simple as it only consists of three parts: the EmbeddedEthernet board, a 74LS139 decoder and a custom circuit board. The custom circuit board is the hardest to craft because it cannot be bought ready-made. It might be possible to hook up the components on a prototype board, however.

How much money is needed to produce a TFE cartridge?

The compontent cost is dominated by the EmbeddedEthernet board which is sold for $70. The 74LS139 decoder costs around $1. To that the cost of producing the circuit board must be added.

Was the C64 server ever blasted off the net by the Slashdot-effect?

When a link to a web site appears on the front page of the popular news site Slashdot, the web site often brought down by the sheer amount of viewers that visit the link. When a web server is brought down this way, it is said to have been "Slashdotted". This is known as the "Slashdot-effect".

Our C64 web server was never brought down, but because of the large amount of traffic it had to handle it could be a bit hard to reach at times.

A lot of people seem to think that our server should have crashed because of the extreme load it was exposed to when mentioned on the popular news site This belief probably is based on the fact that Linux or BSD based servers may crash when overloaded. The problem in those cases is that such systems seldom are tested for overload situations. For instance, a Linux system that is overloadad might use up all avaliable kernel memory which ultimately leads to system failure. Similarly, BSD systems may run out of mbufs, rendering the system unreachable.

In contrast, our C64 server is very easy to overload and has therefore been extensively tested under such conditions. An example of this is the frontpage of the server which in most cases overwhelms the memory of the Ethernet chip, forcing it to drop one of the packets. The resulting retransmission can actually be seen as the lower frame usually takes longer to show up.

It is thus fair to say that because our C64 is overloaded by just one client, it is quite used to handle overload situations :-)

$Date: 2002/07/20 10:04:20 $

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