Killer NIC maker Bigfoot Networks is having a really, really big week at CES 2011. The Austin, TX company announced January 5 a big deal with Gigabyte for a new line of gamer-oriented motherboards with embedded Killer E2100 NIC. It announced today, January 7, a similar deal with ASUS.
I met with Bigfoot Networks’ John Drewry, VP of Marketing, yesterday. He discussed with me these new deals as well as some other great information about Bigfoot Networks’ current and future plans.
The first of the Gigabyte G1-Killer series is the G1.Assassin, a motherboard in the $300 range available soon. For more information on the Gigabyte motherboards, check out our coverage of the Gigabyte CES 2011 press event.
Information on the ASUS motherboards isn’t available yet, unfortunately. Bigfoot Networks is also working with MSI, but there aren’t yet any announced products with them.
These three major deals are serious wins for Bigfoot. Getting its foot in the door of the embedded market is key to market domination.
However, Bigfoot Networks isn’t stopping at gamer-oriented desktop motherboards. The company is eyeing laptop motherboards, especially wireless NICs. The product will be embedded — no USB or ExpressCard add-ons — and may come to fruition this year. There are a lot of hurdles to jump to get the performance where Bigfoot Networks’ customers expect it to be.
In my review of the Killer 2100 NIC, I identified a potential niche market for the Killer NIC technology: servers. Drewry reports that while Bigfoot Networks’ has considered that market and encourages use of the Killer NIC in home and datacenter servers to which users have quick access, the company isn’t likely to entire the enterprise market for some time. BFN prefers to focus on the prize: the gamer market and make headway into the mainstream market (as evidenced by the VisionTek Killer HD 5770 GPU/NPU combo card announced in December).
Company-wise, BFN saw triple-digit growth in 2010, much of which was the result of Asian and European expansion. The company also got its products into the retail channel via Best Buy, Fry’s, Microcenter, and more.
Killer NIC users are also realizing the value of the Killer Network Manager software beyond gaming. The software tool permits users to adjust and monitor network traffic priorities in real time and at all times, not just when they’re gaming.
As for Mac and Linux support, something which I’ve always wished for from the Killer NIC, Drewry said, “Steam changed everything.” He is, of course, referring to Valve Software’s Steam online game store and content delivery system. Steam became available on Mac OS X in June 2010 and many games available on the formerly Windows-only service have been ported to OSX.
Will we see an OSX or Linux driver soon? Bigfoot Networks is monitoring the market demand for its devices, but hasn’t made an announcement yet. A problem with developing drivers for these platforms is the marketing and support resources necessary to properly service customers using these platforms. When the market demand is there, I’m sure BFN will respond.
Another thing BFN is pushing is its “Fragmore University”. FU started at E3 and is a program oriented at gamers to educate them about the games they play. BFN collaborates with many of the professional gamers it sponsors, collecting tips and passing those tips onto FU students in both on- and off-line formats. BFN held FU at E3, Dreamhack, and LANsomnia — attendees really enjoyed the tips, and taught by professional gamers to boot.
A neat test BFN did at E3 was have a professional gamer — who goes by “nothing” — play against challengers. If a challenger beat nothing, he got a prize. It was later revealed that nothing’s computer was downloading WoW in the background during the entire match set without any noticeable performance degradation.
BFN’s goal is to put the Killer NIC everywhere, said Drewry. It sure does seem like BFN is poised for world domination and its customers and continual new deals shows there is a demand for the product. Now, it’s just that much easier for consumers to purchase and benefit from a Killer KIC.