[openfabrics-ewg] OFED 1.2 - request addition of VNIC as a feature

Sujal Das Sujal at Mellanox.com
Mon Nov 20 14:55:48 PST 2006

I would like others to comment on it.  

When the eHCA driver was requested for inclusion in OFED, we went through an informal approval process within EWG where the then chair of EWG Shawn Hansen made the recommendation and EWG members accepted.

This time around, Jamie, the current chair can comment.

I cannot debate what is the right way of bridging from IB to Ethernet LANs and FC SANs.  For the latter, vendors have used one of the three HCA drivers with iSER or SRP over it.  For the former, one of the three HCA drivers and IPoIB has been used by all gateway vendors except QLogic/SilverStorm.  ISER, SRP and IPoIB are part of OFA and going into distros - thanks to the above common usage with gateways.  Imagine if each gateway vendor (I am counting three) had chosen to have a VNIC equivalent for their Ethernet and SAN gateways - I can count at least three VNIC drivers, and six VHBA drivers (3 for SRP and 3 for iSER), besides the three basic drivers (ipath, mthca and ehca) - taking us to a potential total of 12 drivers when there are really only three kinds of HCAs (Mellanox, QLogic, eHCA) plugging in the server running the OFA software. That in essence is what I am trying to avoid.

Sujal Das
(Sent from my Blackberry)

----- Original Message -----
From: Madhu Lakshmanan <madhu.lakshmanan at qlogic.com>
To: Sujal Das; openfabrics-ewg at openib.org <openfabrics-ewg at openib.org>
Cc: openib-general at openib.org <openib-general at openib.org>
Sent: Mon Nov 20 14:20:20 2006
Subject: RE: [openfabrics-ewg] OFED 1.2 - request addition of VNIC as a feature

> From: Sujal Das [mailto:Sujal at mellanox.com]
> Sent: Monday, November 20, 2006 3:56 PM
> To: Madhu Lakshmanan; openfabrics-ewg at openib.org
> Cc: openib-general at openib.org
> Subject: Re: [openfabrics-ewg] OFED 1.2 - request addition of VNIC as
a feature

>> Madhu Lakshmanan, wrote:
>> We, at QLogic, request that the VNIC be added as a feature to be
supported in OFED 1.2. 
>> The VNIC software is a device driver for QLogic's Ethernet Virtual
I/O controller hardware, the >> VEx and the EVIC.

> Hello Madhu et al,
> I would propose that this be made a topic for board approval.  Till
date, we have had drivers for
> HCAs and R-NICs only.  The eHCA, iPath and MTHCA are accepted IB

I am relatively new to OpenFabrics. I was unaware that there was an
established practice of submitting all new device drivers for hardware,
for board approval. If I understand your statement correctly, when you
point out that the ehca, ipath, and mthca are accepted IB drivers, you
are stating that they underwent such an approval process?

> We are afraid the EVIC
> etc are a new breed of drivers and we may set a precedence for more
such drivers in the future.  I
> cannot judge whether this is a good or a bad thing, except that it is
different from what has been
> in OFA till date.  Also, it seems like a proprietary way of
interfacing with gateways to the
> Ethernet LAN, the standard way being the use of an accepted protocol
such as IPoIB. 

A couple of comments regarding the above:
1. The VNIC source is not proprietary as it has been submitted for
review to OpenFabrics.
2. IPoIB is a recent standard in and of itself, but it would be quite a
stretch to say that IPoIB is a standard way for interfacing with IB
gateways to Ethernet LANs. There is nothing in the RFCs that suggest

We have chosen an approach that differs from what other vendors have
done. I believe that 2 approaches can co-exist, and gives users and
customers of IB products greater choice in implementing their IB

There are 2 inescapable facts behind our request for adding this feature
to OFED 1.2:
1. Our Ethernet Virtual I/O controller hardware will not work with OFED
without the VNIC device driver.
2. We are submitting this device driver to OpenFabrics as a direct
response to customer requests that we support the Ethernet Virtual I/O
controllers in OFED.

I believe both the above reasons go to the heart of what the OFA is all
about, and strengthen, not weaken, the alliance.

> Hence, we would request a discussion in the BOD on this.

By all means, if the BOD would like to take this issue up, we are all
for it. If any OFA members have misgivings about our code submission and
feature inclusion request, I'd be more than happy to hear from them.

> Thanks
> Sujal



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