Home > Forefront TMG 2010, Networking, Troubleshooting, Unified Access Gateway > A Word about Network Interface Port Speed and Duplex Settings

A Word about Network Interface Port Speed and Duplex Settings

November 10, 2010

When configuring network interface settings on a Forefront Threat Management Gateway (TMG) 2010 firewall, I strongly recommend that the port speed and duplex settings on all active network interfaces be manually configured. Although autonegotiation is typically enabled by default, and in most cases works without issue, I prefer to eliminate any possibility that a slower link speed or incorrect duplex setting is negotiated in error by configuring these settings explicitly.

Some believe you can configure one side of a link (either the host or the switch) manually and leave the other side set to autonegotiate. The theory is that the host set to autonegotiate will determine what settings the other side has configured and automatically choose those. This is not completely true and doesn’t work as expected. When one side of a link is set for autonegotiation and the other side is not (or doesn’t support it), a process called parallel detection takes place whereby the device that is configured to autonegotiate can determine the port speed of the other device, but it cannot determine the duplex settings and defaults to half duplex. Often this results in a duplex mismatch, which will cause extremely poor performance.

So, when configuring port speed and duplex settings, always remember that BOTH sides of the link should be configured identically. That is, if the switch is configured for 100Mbps/full duplex operation, the network interface on the TMG firewall should be configured the same. On some systems (mostly older ones), when attempting to change these settings, you might notice that there is no option to enable 1000Mbps (gigabit) at full duplex operation. The only available option is autonegotiate 1000Mbps.

Why is there no option to select 1000Mbps and full duplex? Because the designers of the 1000BASE-T specification (IEEE 802.3ab) made duplex autonegotiation mandatory when operating at 1000Mbps port speed over copper cabling. For this reason some network interface management software may limit your choices and not allow you to select this option. In my experience it appears that adherence to this mandate has been relaxed as most newer systems I have worked with now give you the option of configuring 1000Mbps and full duplex operation with copper cabling. If you have an older system and don’t have the option to specify 1000Mbps/full duplex on the network interface, I would recommend updating your network interface device drivers. If you still don’t have the option to specify 1000Mbps/full duplex you may need to replace the network interface card itself.

  1. Jeong Heeseok
    June 15, 2011 at 10:03 pm

    Hi. I want to ask a question. When TMG service is operating and i changed Speed & Duplex option Auto -> 100mb/full or 100mb/full -> Auto, should i restart TMG service?

  2. Jeong Heeseok
    June 15, 2011 at 10:05 pm

    Good information~!!! thank you~!!

  3. June 16, 2011 at 9:09 pm

    Restarting the TMG firewall service shouldn’t be necessary after changing port speed and duplex settings on the interface. It doesn’t hurt anything, however. 🙂

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