iSCSI HBA Windows 2008

Our server connects to an ISCSI SAN (AX4) via a dual port Broadcom 5709 NICs with toe and iscsi support.  The ports show as storage adapters (two of them) in Win2K8 Standard 64bit OS.  I configure the HBA's through iSCSI initiator that's installed by default on Win2K8.  First I assigned the NICs (HBAs) static IP in its own VLAN (created for iscsi traffic).  

In iSCSI initiator properties window > either from discovery or target tabs > advanced settings window to configure the adapter > local adapter drop down > I see four options (defaut, 1st iscsi hba, 2nd iscsi hba, ms iscsi initiator).  When I select either iscsi hba > then under source IP I only get two options (default and hexa characters for iqn or wwn).   When i select this, I get some transport error.  However, when i select the MS iscsi initiator, then under source IP, I get the IPs I set on the HBAs/NICs... this works like a champ.  

Is this how iscsi HBA is configured?  Since I am selecting the IP I assigned to the HBA/NIC then traffic goes through this, so would the HBA off load the processing from the OS/server CPU, etc by default?  Why are the two HBAs show up on the drop down as described earlier if it can't be configured that way or am I just missing a step.

Please advise.

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Are we talking about hardware iSCSI HBAs or are we talking about NICs with iSCSI offload? These are two different things. iSCSI HBAs are capable of establishing an iSCSI connection without the use of the initiator in Windows. They are referred to as hardware initiators vs the software initiator you have setup.

What sounds like you have done is setup a software initiator connection over the NIC portion of the hardware HBA, since they are capable of regular network traffic on top of being a hardware initiator.

Most hardware iSCSI HBAs will have their own special software to configure the hardware initiator... as an example, Qlogic leverages it's already established SANsurfer software for this. You should also be able to configure the hardware initiator settings from it's BIOS interface.

With a hardware HBA, they behave more like a fiber channel card than a NIC as far as iSCSI storage is concerned. For this reason, you should not have to use the software initiator at all. However, my hardware iSCSI HBA experience lies primarily with Qlogic HBAs, not Broadcom so I cannot say with 100% certainty exactly what you need to do to leverage the hardware iSCSI HBA capabilities of that card.

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