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  NICs
Realtek RTL8029AS
ISA ethernet network adapters were usually BNC and later RJ45 for 10BaseT, which rapidly emerged as the dominant medium. It was, however, quite rare to see 10BaseT in both BNC and RJ45 forms on a PCI card, this arrangement normally reserved for their elderly ISA brethren.

The RTL8029 was one of the few 10 megabit adapters with PCI compatibility, and also supported 10Base2, 10Base5, however neither could handle hot-plugging the network cable.

As this was at the end of 10BaseT's life, there were many features on-die. It could program a 9346 EEPROM without any assistance to use as boot-ROM. Like most of the day, it was NE2000 compatible, like this really meant anything, it could work in a Novell Netware environment.

The Novell NE2000 was Novell's way of selling more Netware licences. It was a crude National Semiconductor prototype (8390), but Novell could not sell much Netware since IBM and 3Com charged an absolute fortune for networking hardware. Novell decided to produce a reference design around National's 8390, the NE1000, for $495 USD in 1987. This undercut 3Com by about 50%. There was no royalty needed for compatible designs, and Novell allowed its distributers to go direct to the manufacturer. AMD's (buggier than an ant farm) LANCE-7990 was a significant competitor.

This RTL8029AS was originally intended for Cat-3 cable, as can be seen in that only two pairs are used, it wasn't until Cat-5 that four pairs of conductors were used. UTP cable allowed full duplex operation, and although the RTL8029 wasn't great at it, at least traffic in one direction did not cripple traffic in the other.

The 8029AS was basically an 8019AS with a PCI interface.
Intel 536EP 56k PCI Modem
Intel had long believed in using the power of their CPUs wherever possible and their modems were no exception. The 536EP was a development of Ambient's PCI softmodems, after Ambient had been bought by Intel. The main DSP was implemented in hardware, but the error correction and compression was done in software, making it a hybrid of hardware and software, not a true hardware modem and not a true software modem.

As we can see, this uses an isolating transformer between the digital and analog sides of the modem, it was before silicon DAA isolators were common, though it does have a pair of MOVs (the gold coloured components near the line sockets) to protect against transients.
Holy Crap, It's an AMR card!
AMR slots were the Intel version of the more open CNR riser and were exactly the same thing. They appeared on quite a few motherboards but it was exceptionally rare to find them in use and the cards themselves could be bought from virtually nowhere.
They are simply the analog side of a dialup modem, the digital side done in the MC'97 southbridge and on the host CPU. In this one, like all dialup modems, the blue components you see are metal oxide varistors (MOVs) which are commonly used for surge protection, the big brown thing is a non-polar high voltage capacitor (250V rating) used to regenerate the ring line on a UK (BT) line, where the ringer can be regenerated - this modem had a line pass-through. As the ring line is a third line and RJ11 carries only two conductors, it is regenerated on each device.
The upper IC is a (PCTel) PCT303W DAA (data access arrangement) phone-line interface providing isolation and the lower is a Silicon Laboratories Si3024-XS8 DAA which interfaces with the MC'97 southbridge and converts the MC'97 serial audio data back into analog audio for either voice or data use.
A similar pair of DAA chips in 16 pin SOIC packages can be seen on most modems, common pairs are the PCT303W/PCT303D and Si3012/Si3024 (collectively known as the Si3036 - datasheet). Modems without DAA ICs have to use isolating transformers and seldom come with MOVs.
Realtek RTL8139A
A cheap, no-nonsense NIC bought in late 1999 and still in daily use in 2007. This particular specimen cannot run reliably above a 35MHz PCI bus, so facilitated zero FSB overclocking. For that reason, it was demoted to the dual system which can keep its PCI bus in spec at its normal working frequency. The activity LED was once cut out and the wire soldered on to work a front panel LED. Sadly, the network it was on at the time was hub based and not switch based, so the LED was always flashing.

The RTL8139 itself was never a great performer, being about as basic as a NIC could get in terms of function, so needing the host CPU to handle pretty much everything. However, the RTL8139 was cheap and very reliable so it made design wins across all the top-tier OEMs; An 8139 just works without needing external drivers on everything since Windows2000 and up. Many techs carried 8139s in their toolkit, such is the importance of network connectivity and if the card got broken it was cheap and easy to replace it.

The "A" variant denoted it had Wake-on-LAN functionality via "magic packet" or "wakeup frame", but it needed an extra cable to the motherboard to enable this. It needed split signal for the clock, 25 MHz and 50 MHz. This was handled by the 50 MHz oscillator (position X1) and the small 8-pin package beneath it.
Realtek RTL8139C
This one is similar to the above, but on a larger PCB and using a later revision of the 8139 controller. It can handle an overclocked PCI bus up to 44MHz. Neither of the two Realtek NICs are great performers but they can push 80Mbps when asked to.

The "C" version is made for 3.3V operation and has ACPI compliance to PCI 2.2 specification, so does not need a WOL cable for Wake-On-LAN. It includes the "B" variant's ability to work from a small 25 MHz crystal oscillator (position Y1). The "D" revision (not terribly common) re-adds 5V compatibility.
Realtek RTL8139C
Genius are known for end-consumer marketed upgrades (usually keyboards, webcams and mice), which means their quality somewhat sucks and their price tends to be high; but the box and packaging tends to be flashy. This is about as cheap and trashy as an 8139C could ever be. This card cost twice as much as the one above, even though it's obviously cheaper to manufacture and was three years later. It never performed reliably (which was incredible for an 8139) and eventually was retired from service to be replaced by a Netgear.
ZyXEL Prestige P660R-61C

Well built to good quality standards, ZyXEL make good workhorse SOHO network products. It is based around the Texas Instruments AR7 single chip DSL modem/router using the 7300A chip. The firmware is stored on Intel flash memory (2MB capacity) and no custom firmwares are available due to ZyXEL's habit of using specially modified bootloaders and a custom OS, ZynOS. The 2MB capacity somewhat puts a damper on things too.

The router does not have the ability to set target SNR and, indeed, most commands on the CLI are locked out and do nothing. DMT5.22 will work with this router, but little else will.

UPnP is supported but with UPnP enabled most games will suffer great lag until the router is rebooted. Running BitTorrent clients seems to cause this and, regardless of whether the client is still running or not, only rebooting the router will solve anything.

It's cheap, it's well built, it's easy to configure and use, it usually just works without issue, but it's not for the advanced user or anyone who wants to be hacking firmwares.
Realtek RTL8169S

I couldn't get the heatsink off without potentially damaging the card, so it remains unidentified. There's no UL or FCC number on it and the only identifying mark on the back is a barcode sticker with "NC-1000TX-R06030973" printed on. My best guess from the size of the IC and layout of the card is some variety of Realtek, possibly an RTL8169 or RTL8110. As it has a heatsink, it's pretty early, so I'll tip it to be an RTL8110.

A single port PCI NIC with a heatsink, whatever next?

Update - It's been put into use and identifies with a vendor ID of 10EC, which is Realtek, and a product ID of 8169, which likely puts it in the 8169/8110 family. However we need to be cautious about a firm identification. While they're largely software compatible they do differ in their product IDs. Realtek have long used sensible numbers in the PCI ID codes, but a RTL8110SC I have here identifies as 8167. They use an identical driver, right down to the same files, and appear identically in Task Manager. This card doesn't have J1 (WOL connector) fitted and it knows it; Properties page in Task Manager omits the Power Management tab.

Update: With the heatsink finally off, the chip is clearly seen to be an RTL8169S, one of Realtek's first ventures into gigabit ethernet. Due to the complex DSP required to operate on upwards of 100MB/s (not that PCI can sustain that), these first generation models all required small passive heatsinks. Judging by its peers, this heatsink is smaller than the others, so may well be the cause of its slight instability.
Anatel RT3090 PCIe WiFi Card

This little guy lived in an extremely unlovely Packard Bell imedia S1800, manufactured March 2011. The date of manufacture on this card is Feb 14th 2011, the HDD (A 7,200 RPM 1 TB Hitachi, probably the best component in there) was October 2010. A Valentine's Day WiFi card, is there anything to love about it?

No. No there is not.

It uses the entirely basic Ralink RT3090 chipset, supports the usual 802.11b/g/n (initial certification was draft-N), doesn't support the 5.2 GHz band, doesn't support MIMO and so can peak at just one spatial stream of 40 MHz, so a peak symbol rate of 150 Mbps. This would translate to a data rate of about 80 Mbps. It wasn't even any good for the time. It did support antenna diversity (two antennae) but only in so much as switching between them for the best signal, it wasn't in any way able to do MIMO. Either way, the second antenna feed is not fitted at all on this card. It isn't even an unfitted option on the PCB!

The design is our next clue. This cut every corner possible, then more. Usually, a desktop WiFi adapter would be a mini-PCIe thing intended for laptops, placed on a PCIe x1 slot adapter. This, if you're wanting decent WiFi, is the most cost effective, as mini-PCIe cards are made in immense bulk and the adapter is no more than a mounting and the fitting for the port. Dell does this across its entire range.

However, if you're a decently sized OEM, like Packard Bell, you can specify whatever you want to keep costs down, if you're ordering enough of them. If you're cutting costs everywhere else (the sole video output on this system was VGA, when VGA was obsolete already!), half a buck on the WiFi card soon adds up.

Crummy card from a crummy PC, but installs out of the box on Windows 7 and up.

     
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