This article cover advantages of enabling SR-IOV feature using different vendor Network adapters in ESXi environment.

VMware supports SR-IOV feature since ESXi 5.1 release and supports Intel and Emulex vendor Network adapters. Below are some of the features provided by each vendor and it is worth to consider for enabling SR-IOV feature in ESXi environment.

Intel:

Supported products and features are,

- Products based on the Intel 82599ES 10 Gigabit Ethernet Controller Family (Niantic). Example Intel X520 CNA adapter.

- Products based on the Intel Ethernet Controller X540 Family (Twinville).

- We can create maximum of 63 usable virtual functions per port on supported Intel Network adapters.

- If a supported Intel NIC (vmnic) loses connection, all VFs (Virtual Functions) from the physical NIC stop communication completely, including that between VFs.

In this scenario, the virtual machines which use virtual functions stop communicating and all the internal traffic between virtual machines are impacted.

Emulex:

Supported products and features are,

- Emulex OneConnect (Blade Engine 3). Example Emulex OCe14102-UX-D (12th generation servers), OCe14102-U1-D (13th generation servers).

- We can create maximum of 31 usable virtual functions per port on supported Emulex Network adapters.

- If a supported Emulex NIC (vmnic) loses connection, all VFs stop communication with the external environment, but communication between VFs still works.

In this scenario, the virtual machines which use virtual functions continue to send and receive traffic between virtual machines. The internal traffic between virtual machines is NOT impacted.

 

References:

http://en.community.dell.com/techcenter/virtualization/w/wiki/11395.sr-iov-enhancements-in-esxi-6-0

http://en.community.dell.com/techcenter/b/techcenter/archive/2012/10/26/sr-iov-and-vmware-esxi

http://en.community.dell.com/techcenter/b/techcenter/archive/2013/11/25/sr-iov-feature-enhancements-in-vmware-vsphere-esxi-5-5

http://en.community.dell.com/techcenter/b/techcenter/archive/2013/11/25/comparison-between-npar-and-sr-iov-in-vmware-esxi