Evaluating low cost USB to Ethernet converters


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A13-OLinuXino have no wired Ethernet connection and using WIFI is not always possible so we were looking around for suitable USB to Ethernet converter which to offer.

There are tons of these convertos on ebay starting from as low as $3 including shipment!

The competition between the Chinese factories is enormous, so you can find generally thousands of variations of every product and have to be little cautious as the general Chinese business model is somehow like this: Company A release product on the market and charge let’s say 100 for it, once the product is well accepted and sales are good company B,C and D immediately are seeing business opportunity and copy the product but try to make it at lower cost, usually this comes not from some kind of innovation but just from using lower grade components or removing some components which are for the FCC/CE safety approvals and release product which looks same but sells for 70.
After a while companies E,F,G decide to enter also this market and make new iterration but now the product cost 50 and as you guess right they use even lower grade components.

On first sight all products look same, but when you got them you see that they do not function equally.
Usually there are brands in China which prduce better products and local knows them, so I asked our sourcing agent to take 4 USB to Ethernet adapters which are from brands he trust.

We got them and needless to say they were looking all the same :)

Imageso we start our tests:

#1 was not recognized when plugged for a first time, maybe bad USB connector? then after few plugs and unplugs it start working, we copy 60MB tar file and measure 800KB/s transfer which is not bad, opening this dongle and looking at the components it uses AX88772 USB to Ethernet converter which supports 480Mbit mode

#2 was recognized and enumerated correctly from the very first time it works 5 times slower compared to #1 and we achieved only 150KB/s, opening and looking at the components show QF9700 USB to Ethernet converter which supports USB 1.1 only 12Mbit mode (although on the package is written USB 2.0 ;) )

#3 was not recognized at the first time and after a while started working but we didn’t manage to copy file with it, probably lot of packets were lost from time to time this adapter was managing to open web site, but overall it was worst than all we evaluated, inside was QF9700

#4 worked from the first time and achieved 800KB/s same as #1 inside is AX88772 and this definitely is the best perfrming adapter of all 4 so probably this is what we are going to stock and offer as A13-USB-Ethernet adapter

out of couriousity we try LAN9512 which we put on iMX233 and the transfer was similar to AX88772 i.e. about 1MB/s.

24 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. romanrm
    Sep 18, 2012 @ 10:58:29

    I wonder why your device is so slow if it does support USB 2.0.

    I can easily transmit at almost full 100 megabit:
    [ 3] 0.0-10.0 sec 111 MBytes 93.1 Mbits/sec

    This is with the A10-based MK802 and the USB to Ethernet dongle:
    Bus 002 Device 002: ID 9710:7830 MosChip Semiconductor MCS7830 10/100 Mbps Ethernet adapter

    Reply

  2. Jon Smirl
    Sep 18, 2012 @ 14:23:39

    There are three or four few vendors for the chips inside the units and one vendor seems to be in about 75% of them. The blue ones are normally 10Mb and the green ones 100Mb, but that isn’t always true. To make matters worse 10Mb and 100Mb are the same price.

    All of these sticks produced in the last two years or so implement CDC Ethernet and don’t need special drivers. If you need a driver you are getting old stock (of which there are millions floating around).

    You want to find the USB2.0 (480Mb) with 100Mb Ethernet type. Once you identify it you should be able to buy it for under $5.00.

    Reply

    • Jon Smirl
      Sep 18, 2012 @ 14:26:39

      Also note that just because it has 100Mb Ethernet does not mean it has to have 480Mb USB. Older chips have 12Mb USB hooked to 100Mb USB. You need to identify current versions of these devices and avoid the old ones (which every vendors is going to try to unload on you).

      Reply

  3. Superfro
    Sep 18, 2012 @ 19:30:23

    Just a note, USB 2.0 spec covers 480 mbit, 12 mb, and 1.5mb. While ‘High Speed USB’ only refers to the 480 mbis portion of the usb 2.0 spec. Sadly a lot of people see USB 2.0 and think it does high speed but that simply isn’t true, this is because high speed was added with the 2.0 spec, but it is not a requirement. So there is nothing technically misleading about the box advertising 2.0 but doing 12 mbit only.

    Reply

  4. J Beale (@JBeale3)
    Sep 18, 2012 @ 22:31:50

    Very informative post! It is good to find the right unit, but the real trick is to get that same product the next time you order :-). Seems the key is having an established relationship with the overseas vendor.

    Reply

  5. davidjf2001
    Sep 19, 2012 @ 03:00:22

    I prefer have a short cable as opposed to solid usb. A searched AX88772 on Amazon and the BobJgear unit works fine. The AX88772 driver is built into many Android tablets so it is is a bonus to be able to also use the AX88772 devices with my Nexus 7.

    Reply

  6. casainho
    Sep 20, 2012 @ 16:45:03

    Thank you for all this information!

    Being this components sourced from China and Olimex selling them on Europe, how does Olimex guarante the ROHS European directive and the CE mark?

    Reply

  7. Jon Smirl
    Sep 20, 2012 @ 23:32:24

    Here’s one on Aliexpress that supports 480Mb USB.

    http://www.aliexpress.com/item/USB-for-MAC-BOOK-LAN-CARD-RJ45-Network-card/425378566.html

    Chipset datasheet.

    http://www.asix.com.tw/products.php?op=pItemdetail&PItemID=108;74;109&PLine=74

    I can’t find the same type we last ordered anymore. There are definitely other models than this one that support 480Mb.

    Reply

  8. Antony
    Sep 21, 2012 @ 02:44:06

    i curious what numbers you get for iperf (memory to memory). For a reference Rasberry PI that uses a LAN9512 can get around 90 Mega bits/second using iperf.

    Reply

  9. Ken
    Sep 21, 2012 @ 06:17:51

    Now that you have a good Ethernet-USB dongle identified, how about a Bluetooth-USB dongle. I’ve tried 4 and none work with the A13. It probably has to do with the Android image being built without Bluetooth support, and not with the dongles, but there must be zillions of cheap ones out there. Some are Broadcom based, some CSR. They all work on my x86 laptop.

    Reply

    • Jon Smirl
      Sep 21, 2012 @ 19:35:08

      Bluetooth support in Android is not standardized yet. It is a chaotic mess. The various vendors are providing Bluetooth stacks with incompatible APIs. Hopefully Google will sort this out next release.

      Reply

  10. Ken
    Sep 21, 2012 @ 23:31:28

    My A13 doesn’t recognise any of the 4 I have, some Broadcom some CSR. What does lsusb say about the ones that work?

    Turns out I have 2 that have the same usb ID’s. The 3 unique ones are:

    Bus 002 Device 005: ID 0a12:0001 Cambridge Silicon Radio, Ltd Bluetooth Dongle (HCI mode)

    Bus 002 Device 006: ID 1131:1001 Integrated System Solution Corp. KY-BT100 Bluetooth Adapter

    Bus 002 Device 009: ID 07b8:b02c D-Link Corp. BCM92045DG-Flash with trace filter

    None produce an entry in “Settings” for Bluetooth.

    Reply

  11. Trackback: The freedom of wifi « bluedeckshoe.com
  12. bernard
    Oct 03, 2012 @ 03:43:41

    Have you tried a stress test with these adaptors? I successfully connected an ASIX test board (AX88772B) on USB HOST1 and made a few pings, game downloads and you tube streaming. BUT:
    When I run a simple network stress test application that creates many HTTP requests the whole system hangs (crash) always after a few seconds. If disconnecting the adapter and using the WiFi instead to perform the HTTP requests, it never hangs.

    (I also had a USB mouse connected on USB HOST3, nothing on USB HOST2)

    This is the test app I am using: Just enter 10000 and hit “start” with the default URL:

    https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.witlens.loadtest

    Can someone try this with its hardware that supposedly works?
    Thanks!

    Reply

    • allanchou
      Nov 28, 2012 @ 06:50:33

      You can get the latest AX88772B drivers from ASIX AX88772B Driver Download web page “http://www.asix.com.tw/download.php?sub=driverdetail&PItemID=105″ and verify your issue again. If you still have problems, please contact ASIX Support (support@asix.com.tw) and provide us your detailed test environment, test procedures, error behaviors, debug messages, etc. for further investigation Thanks a lot.

      Reply

  13. Trackback: Olimex-USB-ETHERNET-AX88772B | Wizard From Oz
  14. zoobab
    Dec 24, 2012 @ 20:37:50

    See my experience here on ASIX vs Davicom:

    http://www.zoobab.com/cheap-usb-ethernet

    Reply

  15. Angel G
    Oct 09, 2013 @ 17:55:37

    USB 2.0 Hi-Speed bus usually maxes out at around 30-35 MB/s, so in theory a gigabit usb-to-ethernet adaptor is possible to exist, giving real peak performance of ~330 Mbps. I wonder why we don’t see these ?

    Reply

  16. rm
    Oct 09, 2013 @ 19:14:14

    > so in theory a gigabit usb-to-ethernet adaptor is possible to exist, giving real peak performance of ~330 Mbps. I wonder why we don’t see these ?

    Excuse me what? Maybe you’re looking in a wrong place? Certainly not there: http://www.aliexpress.com/wholesale?SearchText=usb+gigabit&opensearch=true
    tons of models.
    I detailed my experience with one of them at https://romanrm.net/a10#usb-nics-buyer-s-guide and https://groups.google.com/forum/?fromgroups#!topic/cubieboard/3-XvhQvddQI

    Reply

  17. Morgaine
    Oct 09, 2013 @ 20:34:13

    For further background on the actual network throughput of (primarily) ARM boards, we’ve compiled a fairly extensive table of measurements over on Element14’s SBC section of the community forum, uniformly using the very well respected nuttcp utility in all cases. The table is maintained in the leading article of the thread, and explains how to do the measurements (easy!):

    http://www.element14.com/community/thread/27194?tstart=0
    http://nuttcp.org/

    There’s lots of appreciation and enthusiasm for Olimex’s products in the Element14 community, and we’ll certainly be adding more measurements of their network performance to the table as we buy boards or as people report their own tests to us. (Other discussions feature OLinuXino boards too.)

    Happy testing! :-)

    Morgaine.

    Reply

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