The virtual I/O framework implements a hybrid I/O model for improved functionality and performance. The hybrid I/O model combines direct and virtualized I/O to enable flexible deployment of I/O resources to virtual machines. It is particularly useful when direct I/O does not provide full capability for the virtual machine, or direct I/O is not persistently or consistently available to the virtual machine due to resource availability or virtual machine migration.
The hybrid I/O architecture is well-suited for the Network Interface Unit (NIU) on Oracle Sun UltraSPARC T2, SPARC T3, and SPARC T4 platforms. An NIU is a network I/O interface that is integrated on the chip. This architecture enables the dynamic assignment of Direct Memory Access (DMA) resources to virtual networking devices and, thereby, provides consistent performance to applications in the domain.
NIU hybrid I/O is available for Oracle Sun UltraSPARC T2, SPARC T3, and SPARC T4 platforms. This feature is enabled by an optional hybrid mode that provides for a virtual network (vnet) device where the DMA hardware resources are loaned to a vnet device in a guest domain for improved performance. In the hybrid mode, a vnet device in a guest domain can send and receive unicast traffic from an external network directly into the guest domain using the DMA hardware resources. The broadcast or multicast traffic and unicast traffic to the other guest domains in the same system continue to be sent using the virtual I/O communication mechanism.
Figure 8-11 Hybrid Virtual Networking
The hybrid mode applies only for the vnet devices that are associated with a virtual switch (vsw) configured to use an NIU network device. Because the shareable DMA hardware resources are limited, up to only three vnet devices per vsw can have DMA hardware resources assigned at a given time. If more than three vnet devices have the hybrid mode enabled, the assignment is done on a first-come, first-served basis. Because there are two NIU network devices in a system, there can be a total of six vnet devices on two different virtual switches with DMA hardware resources assigned.
Note the following points when using this feature:
Hybrid mode option for a vnet device is treated as a suggestion only, so DMA resources are assigned only when they are available and the device is capable of using them.
Logical Domains Manager CLI commands do not validate the hybrid mode option; that is, you can set the hybrid mode on any vnet or any number of vnet devices.
Guest domains and the service domain need to run Oracle Solaris 10 10/08 OS at a minimum.
Up to a maximum of only three vnet devices per vsw can have DMA hardware resources loaned at a given time. Because there are two NIU network devices, there can be a total of six vnet devices with DMA hardware resources loaned.
The hybrid mode option cannot be changed dynamically while the guest domain is active.
The DMA hardware resources are assigned only when an active vnet device is created in the guest domain.
The NIU 10-gigabit Ethernet driver (nxge) is used for the NIU card. The same driver is also used for other 10-gigabit network cards. However, the NIU hybrid I/O feature is available for NIU network devices only.