Lemmy82
Contributor
Contributor

How to configure Broadcom 5709 NIC as iSCSI Hardware Initiator

Hey vmware-Folks,

I'm having some trouble to setup an iSCSI Hardware Initiator within ESX4. The host-machine has a "Broadcom NetXtreme II BCM5709 1000Base-SX" NIC which supports TOE and can be used as an iSCSI HBA. The question is... what steps are necessary so that the NIC shows up in the list of storage adapters?

The SAN-iSCSI Guide for ESX4 only has a few lines about this and is not a big help. The NIC itself has a boot-menu which includes some iSCSI configuration. At that place I configured the ip-address for our IP-SAN but no change within ESX.

Does anybody have a clue about this? It is really starting to get frustrating for me.. and I don't want to use Vmware's software iSCSI initiator.

Thanks in advance,

Lemmy

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5 Replies
glynnd1
Expert
Expert

Currently the only hardware iSCSI initiator that works with ESX are the ones from QLogic.

Why do you not want to use the software initiator?

Lemmy82
Contributor
Contributor

I just see that as the prefered way if you have the choice. Why bothering the CPU with iSCSI if the NIC features iSCSI?

Do you know about any plans from VMWare to support other vendors? If I check the HCL, would these devices be listed under "IO devices" and type "iscsi"?

And one further question: If we start with using VMware's Software initiator and map LUNs to the VM, would it be possible later (if support is included) to use the same LUNs but via the hardware initiator?

Thanks,

Lemmy

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glynnd1
Expert
Expert

Changing to a different initiator at a later date would be pretty straightforward, and run something like this:

1/ Put host in Maintaince Mode to evacuate all VMs.

2/ De-config existing software iSCSI initiator.

3/ Power down host and put in hardware initiator.

4/ Configure hardware initiator.

If it happens to be existing hardware in the system I would still perform those steps to keep things clean.

No idea how VMware might present these on their HCL should they support them in the future. What you suggest, 'these devices be listed under "IO devices" and type "iscsi"' sounds logical, however I know for using these devices, both the Broadcom and the QLogic, under Windows is that they split the stack very differently. A QLogic type device is seen very much like a SCSI controller, while a Broadcom type device is very much like a smart network card.

You do raise a far question, why bother the CPU with iSCSI work if the (iSCSI offload) NIC can do it. A question that I can't answer, because I don't know what level of CPU load the iSCSI initiator places on the host, however I would put good beer money on it been relatively small. It would be interesting to see what level of impact iSCSI offload NICs have, maybe there are some whitepapers on this on Windows. However, in my personal opinion and without seeing the data, I think it would be an academic difference.

As for VMware's roadmap, only VMware and those under NDA would know.

Lemmy82
Contributor
Contributor

Thanks a lot to you two guys for the info. So I'm stuck with the iSCSI Software Initiator... for now Smiley Happy

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glynnd1
Expert
Expert

Stuck yes, but not in a bad way, it does work very well.

Enjoy ESX/ESXi.

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