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Introduction to SR-IOV FAQs

By Chuck Graham posted Fri June 19, 2020 08:45 AM

In 2015 PowerVM introduced support for Single-Root I/O Virtualization (SR-IOV) on POWER8 systems. PowerVM SR-IOV support allows multiple partitions to share a PCI-Express® adapter and is analogous to Integrated Virtual Ethernet (IVE) support provided on some POWER6 and POWER7 base systems. 

Figure 1 illustrates a shared SR-IOV adapter with SR-IOV logical ports directly assigned to client partitions (e.g. LPAR A & LPAR B) and an SR-IOV logical port assigned to a VIOS partition as the physical device for a Shared Ethernet Adapter (SEA).  Each SR-IOV logical port is mapped to an SR-IOV adapter virtual function (VF) and a slice of physical port’s resources are assigned to it.  The size of the slice is determined when the logical port is configured and includes a desired minimum bandwidth for the logical port. 

When the logical port is assigned directly to a client partition (e.g. LPAR A) the logical port appears as a physical device to a partition.  In this configuration the performance characteristics of the logical port are similar to an adapter directly assigned to partition.  That is there’s no additional overhead associated with the hypervisor or VIOS to process network traffic as there is when the logical port is the SEA physical device.  However, a partition with an SR-IOV logical port directly assigned to it cannot be moved with Live Partition Mobility (LPM).  A new PowerVM facility called virtual Network Interface Controller (vNIC) is now available which allows LPM of partitions with SR-IOV devices..  (see vNIC FAQs)

Given the strong customer interest in benefits of SR-IOV technology, we compiled answers to a few of the most common frequently asked questions that are covered in this post.  These and additional FAQs related to SR-IOV can be found at SR-IOV FAQs. We will keep these updated & expand on them based on future offerings and customer questions.
PowerVM SRIOV Virtilization Overview

What are the requirements to enable SR-IOV shared mode on POWER8 systems?

POWER8 Power Systems starting March 2015

  • IBM Power E870 (9119-MME), IBM Power E880 (9119-MHE)
  • PCIe gen3 slots (no I/O drawer slots)
  • HMC required for SR-IOV
    • HMC required to support SR-IOV capable system
  • Server firmware 820.10 SP
  • PowerVM standard or enterprise edition
  • Minimum client operating systems:
    • AIX 6.1 TL9 SP4 and APAR IV63331, or later
    • AIX 7.1 TL3 SP4 and APAR IV63332, or later
    • SLES Linux Enterprise Server 11 SP3, or later
    • Red Hat Enterprise Linux 6.5 or 7, or later
    • IBM i 7.1 TR9, or later
    • IBM i 7.2 TR1, or later
  • SR-IOV logical ports assigned to the VIOS requires VIOS with interim fix IV63331, or later

POWER8 Power Systems starting June 2015

  • IBM Power System E870 (9119-MME), IBM Power System E880 (9119-MHE)
  • IBM Power System E850 (8408-E8E)
  • IBM Power System S824 (8286-42A), IBM Power System S814(8286-41A)
  • IBM Power System S822(8284-22A), IBM Power System S824L(8247-42L)
  • IBM Power System S822L (8247-22L), IBM Power System S812L(8247-21L)
  • SR-IOV support also available for the PCIe Gen3 I/O expansion drawer(2 SR-IOV slots per Fan-out Module )
  • HMC required for SR-IOV
  • Server firmware 830
  • PowerVM standard or enterprise edition
    • PowerVM express edition allows only one partition to use the SR-IOV logical ports per adapter
  • Minimum client operating systems:AIX 6.1 TL9 SP5 and APAR IV68443, or later
    • AIX 7.1 TL3 SP5 and APAR IV68444, or later
    • IBM i 7.1 TR10, or later
    • IBM i 7.2 TR2, or later
    • Red Hat Enterprise Linux 6.5, or later
    • Red Hat Enterprise Linux 7, or later
    • SUSE Linux Enterprise Server 11 SP3, or later
    • SUSE Linux Enterprise Server 12, or later
    • Ubuntu 15.04, or later
    • SR-IOV logical ports assigned to the VIOS requires VIOS, or later

What I/O adapters support SR-IOV shared mode?

PowerVM SRIOV Adapters

  • SR-IOV announced February 2015 for Power E870/E880 system node. Now available in other POWER8 servers.
  • Adapter is only available in Power E870/E880 system node, not 2U server.
  • SR-IOV announced April 2014 for Power 770/780/ESE system node. With April 2015 announce, available in POWER8 servers.
How many logical ports/VFs are supported per adapter?
PowerVM SRIOV VFs per Adapter

Refer to SR-IOV FAQs for a complete set of SRIOV related frequently asked questions.

Contacting the PowerVM Team
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