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Enabling SR-IOV technology on Dell PowerEdge Servers

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Article Content


Symptoms

With the introduction of Windows Server 2012, Microsoft enabled Single Root I/O Virtualization (SR-IOV) support for networking devices in Hyper-V.

Table of Contents

  1. Introduction
  2. Identify the SR-IOV Supported Platforms and NICs
  3. Configure the BIOS Settings
  4. Microsoft SR-IOV Support on Dell PowerEdge Servers
  5. Configure Hyper-V
  6. Conclusion
 

Introduction

This article describes how to enable SR-IOV functionality on Dell™ PowerEdge™ servers.

Significant research and development effort in virtualization technology has been expended to increase the effective hardware resource utilization. Virtualization has helped improve hardware utilization tremendously, but its potential to fully maximize I/O devices and technologies has not yet been realized. Software-based sharing of hardware resources adds overhead to each I/O operation due to the emulation layer between the guest driver and the I/O hardware. To address this issue, PCI-SIG, the special interest group that owns and manages PCI specifications as open industry standards, introduced a suite of specifications for Single Root I/O Virtualization (SR-IOV) to allow multiple operating systems to share a physical interconnect.

The Single Root I/O Virtualization (SR-IOV) specification details how a single PCIe device can be shared between various guest operating systems. Devices capable of SR-IOV functionality support multiple virtual functions on top of the physical function.  The virtual function is enabled in the hardware as a light-weight PCIe function. The virtual function of an SR-IOV capable card can be directly assigned to the guest operating system. A virtual function driver running in the guest operating system manages this device.
 

Identify the SR-IOV Supported Platforms and NICs

Dell™ PowerEdge™ 12th Generation servers support the SR-IOV feature but previous generations have exceptions.

Configure the BIOS Settings

Both Virtualization Technology and SR-IOV Global settings need to be enabled in the BIOS. The steps to enable both are as follows:

1. Update the BIOS to the latest version.

PowerEdge BIOS version released after June 20th 2012 has SR-IOV support. You can find minimum BIOS version needed on different Dell server platforms to support Microsoft Windows Server 2012. Obtain the latest BIOS from Dell.com/Support.

2.  Enable the "Virtualization Technology" setting.

  • Restart the server.
  • During BIOS POST when the "DELL" screen displays, press F2 to enter System Setup.
  • Go to Processor Settings > Virtualization Technology and change the Virtualization Technology setting to Enabled.
 Virtualization Technology BIOS setting on 11th Generation servers: 
 
SLN310623_en_US__1i_sriov_poweredge1_cr_v1 SLN310623_en_US__2i_sriov_poweredge2_cr_v1(1)
Figure 1:  Virtualization Technology BIOS setting on 11th Generation servers
 
Virtualization Technology BIOS setting on 12th Generation servers: 
SLN310623_en_US__3i_sriov_poweredge3_cr_v1 SLN310623_en_US__4i_sriov_poweredge4_cr_v1
Figure 2:  Virtualization Technology BIOS setting on 12th Generation servers

3. Enable the "SR-IOV Global Enable" setting.

  • Go to Settings > Integrated devices and change the "SR-IOV Global Enable" setting to "Enabled".

SR-IOV Global Enable setting on 11th Generation servers:

SLN310623_en_US__5i_sriov_poweredge5_cr_v1 SLN310623_en_US__6i_sriov_poweredge6_cr_v1
Figure 3: SR-IOV Global Enable setting on 11th Generation servers

SR-IOV Global Enable setting on 12th Generation servers:
SLN310623_en_US__7i_sriov_poweredge7_cr_v1 SLN310623_en_US__8i_sriov_poweredge8_cr_v1
Figure 4: SR-IOV Global Enable setting on 12th Generation servers

4. Save the Settings

11th Generation servers: Press ESC  to go to the previous menu and one more ESC to save the settings
SLN310623_en_US__9i_sriov_poweredge9_cr_v1
Figure 5: 11th Generation servers

12th Generation servers: Press "Back" to go up a menu then click "Finish" and "Yes" to save settings.
SLN310623_en_US__10i_sriov_poweredge10_cr_v1
Figure 6: 12th Generation servers
 


Microsoft SR-IOV Support on Dell PowerEdge Servers


The SR-IOV feature (Single Root - I/O Virtualization) in Windows Server 2012 allows a single PCIe adapter to be shared among several virtual machines. 

Below is a list of Dell 11th Generation platforms that support the SR-IOV feature: 

  • R910
    The following platforms are also supported and must be an 11G Generation II server: 
  • T410, R410, R510, R610, T610, R710, T710

    How to identify an 11G Generation II system:

    • These servers will be physically marked with symbol "II" on the Express service tag.  The Express service tag is located in front panel of the system.
    • These systems support Intel 56XX (Westmere) processors.
    • The System Revision Field in the iDRAC GUI will have "II"

     Supported SR-IOV network cards:

  • Intel X520 10GB Ethernet adapters
    • Intel X540 10GB Ethernet adapters

    Configure Hyper-V

    The Hyper-V role in Windows Server 2012 supports the SR-IOV feature for networking devices. There are steps required to configure Hyper-V for SR-IOV that are beyond the scope of this blog. Please refer to this Microsoft blog for additional information on Hyper-v configuration.


    Conclusion

    SR-IOV technology in Windows Server 2012 Hyper-V provides flexibility with live migration and as a solution for workloads that need higher throughput, lower latency and lower CPU utilization for network traffic. SR-IOV implementation in Dell PowerEdge platforms is secure and easy to configure.

Cause

-

Resolution

-

Article Properties


Affected Product

PowerEdge

Last Published Date

14 Dec 2021

Version

5

Article Type

Solution