Some thoughts on NIC Partitioning (NPAR)

Hello community,

today some thoughts about NIC Partitioning.

What means NPAR?

NPAR is a technology used by Broadcom and Qlogic, which enables you to split up traffic on a Networkcard (NIC) in 4 partitions. NPAR is only working with 10GbE technology. NPAR is similar to QoS on Networklayer.

How can I split up the traffic?

You can split up the traffic in different ways. Like with QoS with UDP or TCP packet filter but you have also the option to split up in VLANs, Virtual Machine or application client. For application client your software must support multitenant.

When I split up the bandwidth is this dynamic or static?

You can have both, it is possible to set up static partitions or you can set it dynamic.

As you see in the picture, there are static bandwidths configured for iSCSI, FCoE, TOE and other protocols and dynamic for VMs. It is also possible that more than one Protocol or VM uses one Partition.

Has my switch to support NPAR?

No. Your switch has not to support, for your switch there is no different between an NPAR NIC than a normal NIC.

What about the OS, can every OS handle NPAR?

No. There is a list of supported OS,  Windows Server 2008 and 2008 R2, Windows Server 2012, Windows Hyper-V Server, RHEL, 5.5 and 6, SLES 11 SP1, VMware ESX, ESXi 4.1 and ESXi 5.0.

Why should I use NPAR?

From datacenter perspective it would reduce your cabling and maximize bandwidth.

How does this work?

Let me give you an example. For an Hyper-V cluster you need one NIC for Management, one NIC for Cluster Heartbeat, one for Livemigration, one for cluster shared volume, two iSCSI NICs and two or more NICs to attach you Company and VM Network.  So in the past you had many NICs or a few NICs with many ports. With NPAR it is possible to use at least two 10GbE NICs  Ports to setup the complete network environment. That reduces cabling and you don’t need big 2U sever to hold all the cards.

How to configure NPAR?

Check out the links and the video below.

 

 

Qlogic

http://www.qlogic.com/OEMPartnerships/Dell/Documents/Converged/QME8242-k_converged_IO_Deployment_Guide.pdf

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rK1OXNKynNw

Broadcom

http://i.dell.com/sites/doccontent/shared-content/data-sheets/en/Documents/dell-57712-k-cndc-npar-setup-guide.pdf

For more questions and information take a look in this whitepapers and blogs.

http://www.dell.com/downloads/global/products/pedge/en/Dell-Broadcom-NPAR-White-Paper.pdf

http://social.technet.microsoft.com/wiki/contents/articles/9711.hyper-v-network-design-configuration-and-prioritization-guidance.aspx

http://www.dell.com/downloads/global/products/pwcnt/en/broadcom-57712-k-faq.pdf

http://bladesmadesimple.com/2011/10/dell-network-daughter-card-ndc-and-network-partitioning-npar-explained/

Thank you for reading.

Regards

Flo

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2 Responses to Some thoughts on NIC Partitioning (NPAR)

  1. BGB says:

    How do I map the Partitions to different VLANs on my switch. For Example I plug the 2 10GB ports into 10GB ports on my MXL switch. I want VLAN4 to map to Port1/Partition1 and I want van 10 to Map to port1/partion2?

    • Flo says:

      For this use, you shouldn’t use portbased VLAN on your switch. Your switch should be configured for tagged or dynamic VLAN. That enables you to set the VLAN the partion and the switch is able to use both VLANs. For the switch it looks like there a re coming different VLANs from another switch.

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