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P4000 VSA vNIC 10GbE

Joel Kientz
Occasional Visitor

P4000 VSA vNIC 10GbE

Does anyone have suggestions for gaining better performance from a VSA on a 10GbE vSwitch? I realize that only 1Gbps is usable, due to the outdated "Flexible" vNIC it uses, but are there any other ways in which it can be configured to utilize the available bandwidth? For example, does Round Robin MPIO help? Does having Jumbo Frames enabled on the vSwitch and physical switching make any difference? (The VSA's vNIC does not support Jumbo Frames.)

Also, I would like to hear from anyone that knows what kind of development is going on in regards to the VSA. I wouldn't be so worried about its current performance if I knew we were close to a release that supports 10GbE and Jumbo Frames.

Also, I know it wouldn't be supported by HP, but this is just an idea:

I have a demo VSA I have been playing with. I know the hardware version can be upgraded to v7 and the newer vNIC "VMXNET2" is recognized by the OS (VMXNET3 is not) and is at least functional at 1Gbps, but it doesn't look like the properties of that vNIC are available in the Management Console. Even though VMXNET2 is capable of 10GbE and Jumbo frames, the configuration of the Management console is frozen on a VSA (if indeed the OS fully supports VMXNET2). Obviously, changing the configuration as mentioned would not be supported by HP, but I might be tempted to risk it if I could get better performance. I know SAN/iQ is not "Linux-based" but I am wondering if configuration is possible using a built-in Linux console; similar to ESX.

Any thoughts?
5 REPLIES
Uwe Zessin
Honored Contributor

Re: P4000 VSA vNIC 10GbE

> I realize that only 1Gbps is usable,

That is just what the device driver says, similar what you see when you configure a Windows VM with the 'vlance' NIC and see 10 MegaBit/sec. In reality the vNIC works with memory-speed and/or the pNIC's speed.

But most likely you are limited by the speed of the disk drives anyway.

> I know SAN/iQ is not "Linux-based"

Oh, but it is ;-)
I've once looked a little bit into the .vmdk files, but it is heavily stripped down - don't expect a rich environment like the ESX service console.
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Joel Kientz
Occasional Visitor

Re: P4000 VSA vNIC 10GbE

So, are you saying that it can utilize the entire 10Gb available to it as long as the memory speed is there? The management console recognizes the operating speed at 1000Mbps, but if what you say is true it could be higher than that? I have tried to find VMware documentation on how vNIC types relate to available bandwidth, but have only found comparisons of features, such as jumbo frames, offloading, etc. Anyone have a link?

I only stated that SAN/iQ was not based on Linux because that is what I have read elsewhere from HP reps. Good to know otherwise! Do you know of a way to access the linux console? I tried all of the Alt-F* combinations.

Anyone else know how to boost performance? I am getting a max of 7500KBps write speed right now.

Uwe Zessin
Honored Contributor

Re: P4000 VSA vNIC 10GbE

"Guest Operating System Reports 10Mbps Speed when Host Adapter is 100Mbps or Higher"
http://kb.vmware.com/kb/856

I assume that you have not set up any traffic shaping ;-)

Seriously, what disk subsystem are you using and do you really need MegaBytes/sec instead of I/Os per second?

Many (most?) RAID systems are good at IOPS, but not MBPS.


I've only done a short look into the .vmdk. From what I have seen I do not expect a shell access at all.
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Joel Kientz
Occasional Visitor

Re: P4000 VSA vNIC 10GbE

Ok. So the vNIC should operate at greater speeds than 1Gbps if the system resources are available and the physical NIC supports it.

What about the VSA supporting Jumbo Frames? Does it already support it? I know the "Frame Size" option is configurable in a physical HP Lefthand SAN. For the VSA, "Frame Size" is not configurable, but I'm wondering if it is supported anyway. If so, does a default configuration support it or is there configuration on the ESX host side to do?
Robert Campbell the 2nd
Occasional Advisor

Re: P4000 VSA vNIC 10GbE

If your hosts (VSA) supports it, you could try to connect the 10Gbit adapter via "PCI-passthrough" in VMware. That should get you a performance gain if your disks are still fast enough.

You can always have a look at the kernel in the VSA appliance by simply adding a bootable CD, and then mounting the disks end investigating them. sda1 is the boot partition, sda2 is the root filesystem. sdb is simply a raid-1 copy of these disks (set up with mdadm) and sdc is the actual storage disk, which is partitioned to provide some meta-data and real data.

I have managed to get the VSA evaluation to run in ESXi by making a "dd" of the sda and sdb disks in the player and restoring them into a ESXi VM by doing the "dd" in the reverse direction. The extra raid-disk (for storage of data) can be re-made via the management interface. When this is done, the 30-day evaluation starts again.

Robert Campbell