Quad port gigabit NIC for virtualization

lpallard

Member
Aug 17, 2013
220
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Hello,

I know this has probably been asked a thousand times before but I need some guidance from the experts in selecting a reliable and low cost quad port ethernet adapter. Which brand to choose? Which chipset?

Anyways, here's my requirements:

-Fully support virtualization (not sure which hypervisor yet, Im still researching on this... if you can recommend a totally free & good type 1 hypervisor, please do so! as of now, Im leaning toward proxmox, Xenserver or ESXi)
-Quad port
-Intel chipsets (this NIC will be used by a pfSense VM so Intel is a must)
-Support 1 Gbps
-Can (and with my price range will probably be) used
-Maximum $130USD

Other than that, knowing I intent to do virtualization, you probably know more than I do ;)

My motherboard is a Supermicro H8DCL-iF with 3 PCIE 2.0 x8 slots available, and Im using dual Opterons 4334. I do not need more than 1 Gbps. Quite frankly, I could go for a dual port for now, but I figured a quad port NIC would give me some overhead for the future...

THe mobo has 2 ports. One for the IPMI platform, the other will be the WAN going to the pfsense VM. Then from the pfsense VM, one of the ports of the quad port controller will be the LAN, the other will be the main server VM's adapter, another will be a DMZ for pfsense, and the last one would be for future requirements....

Please dont hesitate to criticize this... Im VERY new to virtualization and to be honest, I havent wrapped my mind around it just yet... I may be wrong in my approach..

Looking forward to the replies from the pros!
Thanks!
 
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SantaSCSI

New Member
May 22, 2011
19
3
3
I just got a second one off ebay for around 100 euro's. Any quad port 1000PT will do normally. My first card is IBM branded, the new one is HP. It has the Intel 82571EB chip on it. The card itself is PCIe x4.
According to Vsphere, these cards are apparently 2x dual gigabit or something. When setting passtrough, I need to pass ports in pairs of 2.

Edit: I'm not a pro, but I DO have a Santa Claus hat. Might just count.
 

Mike

Member
May 29, 2012
482
16
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EU
I guess sr-iov is not in it with this budget? Need the ET cards for that? I never liked passthrough with BSDsense.
 

lpallard

Member
Aug 17, 2013
220
6
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Ok a few comments!

When setting passtrough, I need to pass ports in pairs of 2.
Does it mean that I wont be able to dedicate one of the interfaces (out of 4) to a VM but I will have to do in pairs?

The card itself is PCIe x4
I dont have free X4 slots. Only 5 X8 slots, one of them being X8 in a X16 format, 3 X8 in X8 format, and the last one X4 in a X8 format. I wont be able to physically connect the X4 NIC's on my motherboard.

Mike, sr-iov is totally alien to me... Ill look on google but I'd like to keep it simple. Virtualization is already pushing it for me :)

I never liked passthrough with BSDsense
Do you have experience in virtualizing pfsense?
 

lpallard

Member
Aug 17, 2013
220
6
18
Hey talking as a virtualization rookie, would it be easier, cheaper and overall better to use 2 dual port NICS instead of a single quad port one? I opted for a quad port NIC only to save motherboard resources (number of PCIE slots) and maximize the X8 slots usage...

EDIT:

turns out, according to a quick google search, that the Intel 1000PT (82571GB) quad port NIC could be incompatible with pfsense?

Intel Quad NIC not working in pfsense 2.1

Also, there seems to be some problems with PCIE Gen 1 vs Gen 2....

Intel PRO/1000 PT Quad-Port Server Adapter (39Y6136) support for IBM System X PCIE GEN2 servers - IBM System x

The controller I have found on ebay which would go for a little less than $70USD looks like it has the following ID numbers:

PN 39Y6138
SN 39Y6137
YK50KK9BF0LP

From IBM's website http://www-947.ibm.com/support/entry/portal/docdisplay?lndocid=migr-5080344:
If the reading shows "YK50KK," this is the new adapter hardware level that is PCI Express Gen 2 compatible and should work fine with PCI Express Gen 2 slots on iDataPlex dx360 M2 servers. This adapter hardware level supports both PCI Express Gen 1 and Gen 2.
So I should be OK?
 
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33_viper_33

Member
Aug 3, 2013
200
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I have an Intel PRO/1000 PT dual port adapter in my pfsense box that has been running without issue for about 2 years. I also have a quad port version that ran under pfsense for a short time without issues. The network I'm on blocked the first link so I'm not sure what others have experienced. I can only speak from my own experiences which have been good. I will no longer buy anything other than Intel NICs. I've had 0 issues with them as opposed to some other brands out there.
 

33_viper_33

Member
Aug 3, 2013
200
2
18
If you’re looking for virtualization, SR-IOV is nice as I'm just starting to play with it. I think it is very good for high speed items like 10GBE or Infiniband since the virtual switch exhibits performance hits. Pass through is nice for pfsense applications for the WAN port which I view as more secure and use that feature myself. With 1GBE and slower, I don't see a "need" for SR-IOV or pass through as the vSwitch is fast enough. It all depends on what you plan on doing with it and how ambitious your goals are.
 

Aluminum

Active Member
Sep 7, 2012
431
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I dont have free X4 slots. Only 5 X8 slots, one of them being X8 in a X16 format, 3 X8 in X8 format, and the last one X4 in a X8 format. I wont be able to physically connect the X4 NIC's on my motherboard.
Huh? You can always put a smaller card in a larger slot. You can usually put a larger card in a smaller slot if you don't mind an exacto knife to the slot or the motherboard was nice enough to provide open ended slots. (in extreme cases w/ obstructions seen people mod the card fingers)

If you look long and hard you might find an i350 quad for ~$150 on fleabay which is ideal IMO
 

lpallard

Member
Aug 17, 2013
220
6
18
I wont be able to physically connect the X4 NIC's on my motherboard.
LOL to take with a grain of salt... I wasnt having the best day ever... Obviously smaller than the slot is OK, the other way around you need to do a bit of modding with a xacto knife ;)

I looked at the i350's on fleabay... Dual port ones are in my price range. Quad port's are insanely expensive (250-300USD). Unless I find a seller that would let one go for 150-175 (pushing it), I'd have to go for an older generation such as the 1000/PT.

I may pull the trigger on the one I saw on fleabay for $70... At that price, if something goes wrong (not recognized by hypervisor, pfsense, etc) then I can always put it back on the classifieds or sell it for cheap and get a new one. At $300 it HAS to work flawlessly...

I initially forgot to ask also about connecting 2 servers together via network adapters. Eventually (within the next year) I will most likely build another server for bulk storage (more or less a NAS). At that moment, I will be interested to connect my existing server with this future storage server and have the fastest connection (for decent $$) in between (Infiniband, 10Gbps?). The ethernet quad port adapter I am looking to buy right now is only to virtualize my pfsense router (no need for greater than Gigabit since my WAN is only 30/10) and for other VM's to use.

Should I revisit my whole strategy considering the future high speed link between the servers I was talking about?