Advisory – ESX 4.1 + HP FLEX-10 + Broadcom bnx2x = Bad News

Two local customers have ran into the same situation in the past month….both are running on a HP c-Class blade infrastructure leveraging Virtual Connect/FLEX-10 as well as on-board Broadcom 10G cards leveraging the bnx2x driver – this mixed with ESX(i) 4.1 is an almost lethal combination.

Random network drops, port flapping, dropped packets….not good for a virtual infrastructure. Luckily HP is aware of the issue and has released Advisory c02476622 which states;

The Broadcom bnx2x VMware ESX Driver Version 1.54 does not function with HP Virtual Connect Device Control Channel (DCC) and SmartLink features on ProLiant and Integrity server blades configured with the NC532m or the NC532i adapter running firmware version 2.2.6. After installing or upgrading VMware ESX/ESXi 4.1 the following functionality is either not installed or is lost:

  1. New installation – DCC and SmartLink functionality is unavailable in an HP Virtual Connect environment with the NC532m or NC532i Network Adapters after installing VMware ESX/ESXi 4.1.
  2. Upgrade installation – If the bnx2x Asynchronous Driver Update CD version 1.52 was previously installed on a VMware ESX/ESXi 4.0 host, DCC/SmartLink capabilities will be lost after upgrading to VMware ESX/ESXi 4.1, which will overwrite the bnx2x driver version 1.52 with version 1.54 that is included with the base VMware ESX/ESXi 4.1operating system.
  3. Network failover – ProLiant and Integrity server blades hosting VMware ESX/ESXi 4.1 may lose network failover capabilities that use the VMware ESX NIC teaming failover policy (vSwitch setting) “Link Status only.”

There is a work-around that leverages VMware Beacon Probing but honestly this has been a hit/miss type work-around.  In my opinion, stick with ESX 4.0 until HP works out the issue with the firmware/driver.

Created on November 11, 2010 by Rick Scherer

Posted under Networking, vSphere.

This blog has 7,775 views.

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5 Comments so far

  1. Ken Henault
    2:51 pm on November 11th, 2010

  2. Herschelle
    3:17 pm on November 11th, 2010

  3. rbudavari
    4:57 pm on November 11th, 2010

  4. Wade Holmes
    7:16 pm on November 11th, 2010

    Sounds like back to the future, similar issue and workaround existed with 3.5 until HP issued multiple firmware and driver updates. THe proprietary HP FLEX-10 network stack does not appear to be very future proof.

  5. infrasty
    1:24 pm on February 26th, 2016

    You won’t believe it, same issue in 2016 for HP BladeSystem c3000, HP BL460c Gen8, HP 534FLB – after flashing latest firmware to 534FLB ( 7.12.38 ) no DCC with Virtual Connect Flex10/10D with latest 4.45. Checked with latest VMware ESXi 5.5 with all updates and latest drivers for bnx2x. Going to revert to working 7.10.37/39 from 201409 SPP on HP534FLB (LOM). Mezzanine works fine with latest firmware…looks like something on mother board.


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