A. Joseph Dupre III
Technical Product Manager
Blog

BOOST NFVI TESTING WITH SR-IOV SUPPORT ON IXLOAD VE

November 4, 2016 by A. Joseph Dupre III

1 For the last several releases of IxLoad VE Ixia’s engineering team has been hard at work squeezing out ever last ounce of performance capability from Ixia’s purpose built virtual infrastructure test tool. At the same time, they are evaluating the latest and greatest technologies in the industry that are pushing the envelope of what commercial off the shelf (COTS) hardware can do to support demanding carrier-grade network functions virtual infrastructure (NFVI) deployments.

One such technology that has gained popularity in the industry is single root input/output virtualization (SR-IOV). SR-IOV is a network interface card (NIC) that allows a single physical PCI-express (PCI-e) adapter to provide multiple virtual functions—appearing as if they are multiple PCI-e adapters that can be used by virtual machines (VMs) on a hypervisor. With the hardware acceleration that comes from using the physical NIC directly, the VMs can achieve higher levels of performance than would be possible with just software switching alone. 

This performance boost is very important to companies that are in the process of converting traditional proprietary hardware networking platforms to more generic, open network functions. In this transition, the NFVI must be tested not only for functional correctness, but also high-capacity scenarios where the software and hardware systems that make up the NFVs will be pushed to the infrastructure scale limits. 

SR-IOV2

Figure 1. Intel Single Root I/O Virtualization hierarchy (source dpdk.org)

Carriers need for a test tool that can emulate large numbers of application users to stress virtual network infrastructures at a pace that keeps up with the industry’s explosion of multiplay traffic. This drove the Ixia’s development team to add SR-IOV support to IxLoad VE over Intel NICs on all platforms that the IxVM software infrastructure supports. This means that on supported VMware and KVM hypervisor versions, the IxLoad VE load module now includes SR-IOV support for Intel 1Gbps interfaces through the Linux igbvf driver module. Similarly, SR-IOV is supported for Intel 10Gbps interfaces through the Linux ixgbevf driver.

SR-IOV support on IxLoad VE is available with the IxLoad 8.10 EA release. For more information on SR-IOV installation and configuration requirements in IxLoad VE: