PCB Design and Specifications
The adapter is compact but has a full-size PCB, so you cannot install it into a low-profile system case.
Well, we don’t think that anyone would want to do that since the Xeno Pro is meant for top-end gaming configurations which are usually assembled in roomy and massive system enclosures of the midi/full-tower format like the Chieftec LCX-01, Cooler Master Cosmos or Zalman GS1000.
Being compact, the card is densely populated. On the reverse side of the PCB we can spot a Marvell 88E1118R-NNC2 chip located right above the PCIe x1 connector.
This is Marvell’s Alaska series PHY Gigabit Ethernet controller servicing one 10/100/1000Base-T port. The chip is connected to an integrated module Bel MagJack 0826-1X1T-43-F that includes a Gigabit Ethernet port, matching transformers, decoupling transformers and LED indicators of connection and data transmission modes.
The central part of the face side of the PCB is occupied by a rather large chip sporting a K sticker – the official logotype of the Killer NIC series. It resembles the logo of the famous network shooter series Unreal Tournament.
As opposed to the Killer NIC M1, there is no heatsink here. It is not necessary since the chip does not heat up much. Of course, we could not be satisfied with the single letter K in our study, so we tore the sticker off to read the following marking:
The marking “PPC8315” refers to the PowerQUICC II Pro series developed by Freescale Semiconductor. The MPC8315E model is a SoC controller with a PowerPC core clocked at frequencies up to 400 MHz, which is quite enough to offload the CPU from any networking jobs.
Two PCI Express x1 channels are supported as the system interface. Interestingly, the MPC8315E also incorporates two Serial ATA II ports which might be output as eSATA connectors for external storage devices to use the latter as a FTP server or a place to store downloaded files into. Alas, this feature is not implemented in the EVGA Killer Xeno Pro. Instead of an eSATA port, there is a USB 2.0 connector on the PCB. As you know, USB 2.0 has much lower bandwidth than eSATA.
The Spansion flash memory chip above the processor stores the Killer Xeno Pro’s operating system. Again, this whole device works under control of a specialized version of Linux and is in fact a computer in its own right.
The processor has a 32-bit DDR2 memory interface with a frequency up to 266 (533) MHz. A couple of such memory chips are installed on the card. These are Qimonda HYB18T512160BF-3.7 (512 Mb capacity, 1.8V voltage). The 3.7 suffix denotes a rated frequency of 266 (533) MHz which seems to be the frequency the memory is indeed clocked at. The two chips provide a total of 128 megabytes which should be enough for any network applications you can launch on this processor. The previous-generation Killer NIC used to come with 64 megabytes of system memory, by the way.
Besides the Gigabit Ethernet and USB 2.0 ports, the card has 3.5mm connectors for a headset. You can use them directly by separating your voice communication from the in-game audio reproduced by the main sound card. Or you can connect the Xeno Pro’s line output to the sound card’s input with an internal or external cable whichever you find more expedient.
We put the EVGA Killer Xeno Pro into out testbed and installed its latest drivers and software. We’ll talk about the latter in the next section of the review.