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NPAR and Linux's NIC Bonding

Posted on 2013-05-21
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Last Modified: 2014-08-06
Hi Guys,

We have blade servers with 2 x physical NIC ports. After I enabled NPAR , I get 4 virtual ports per each physical ports (Broadcom) totalling 8 virtual ports.
Servers are running RHEL6 and I would like to create NIC bonding using virtual ports.

Here are some pointers I got so far -
You can not use virtual ports from the same physical port in the same bond.
You can't not use bonding mode 4 (802.3ad LACP) because that requires entire physical port to work.
For Windows OS, SLB(Smart Load Balancing) mode is used for same setup.

I want to know which mode I should use for Linux Servers.

Remarks: I don't want Active/Backup or Round-robin.

Thanks in advance,
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Question by:netlynker
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Daniel McAllister earned 500 total points
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NPAR is an acronym used by several vendors for different technologies. What you describe appears to be the VMware version, where you are creating virtual NIC interfaces for use by VM client Operating Systems.

If that is the case, then you'll want your Linux client to be assigned two virtual ports, making sure that they are mapped to (the 2) physically different NICs.

Once the assignment is done in VMware, the Linux client just sees 2 separate NICs and can load balance however you desire -- however, know that, as you pointed out, there will be limitations due to the fact that the virtual NIC in the client will have no visibility to the physical NIC's queues, and so schemes like alb or tlb will not balance on the correct criteria.

Linux bonding drivers have 7 modes:
 0 is round-robin (which you've ruled out)
 1 is active-backup (which you've ruled out)
 2 is xor balanced (probably too similar to round robin, although you are promised to use the same interface to the same "other device" based on mac addresses
 3 is broadcast and can cause issues with some switches
 4 is 803.3ad (which you've ruled out -- probably because your local switch and/or VM host can't support it)
 5 is tlb (transmit load balance) -- probably your best option
 6 is alb (adaptive load balance) -- which also requires a suitable switch and/or VM host capability that probably is not present

Personally, I use tlb -- or mode 5, as it doesn't assume anything about the switch -- or, in this case, the VM host.

I hope this helps.

Dan
IT4SOHO
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