Friday, 16 June 2017

S2D: Mellanox Prep for RoCE RDMA

We are in the process of setting up a pair of Mellanox SX1012B (40GbE) switches and CX354A ConnectX-3 Pro NICs (CX3) for a Storage Spaces Direct (S2D) four node cluster.


  • (2) MSX1012B Switches
  • (2) NETGEAR 10GbE Switches
  • Intel Server System R2224WTTYS
    • (2) CX354A NICs per Node
    • (2) Intel X540-T2 10GbE NICs

The Mellanox gear will provide the East-West path between nodes while the NETGEAR/Intel 10GbE will provide for node access and the virtual switch setup.

Out of the box, the first thing to look at is … the Release Notes for the MLNX-OS version v3.6.3508 that is current as of this writing.

As we can see, the firmware level we need to have on our CX3 NICs:

The most current version of the CX3 firmware is 2.4.7000 which we had downloaded prior to reading the release notes. ;)
We will make sure to install 2.40.5030 once we are ready to do so:

Now, as far as the Mellanox switch OS goes (MLNX-OS), there may be a bit of a process needed depending on how old the current OS is on them!

imageimage2.5Upgrade From Previous Releases
Older versions of MLNX-OS may require upgrading to one or more intermediate versions prior to upgrading to the latest. Missing an intermediate step may lead to errors. Please refer to Table 2and Table 3 to identify the correct upgrade order.
Note that there are two types of switch operating systems depending on the underlying hardware. In our case, it is PPC as opposed to x86.

In our case, the current OS version is 3.4.0012, so our process will be:

  1. 3.4.0012 –> 3.4.2008
  2. 3.4.2008 --> 3.5.1016
  3. 3.5.1016 –> 3.6.2002
  4. 3.6.2002 –> 3.6.3004
  5. 3.6.3004 –> 3.6.3508

Fortunately, the Mellanox download site makes picking and choosing the various downloads a simple process.

This is what the update process looks like:



One can expect to budget between 30-90 minutes per upgrade session.

NOTE: When both switch management consoles were opened in separate IE tabs one would fail out on the upload after a minute or so. Once we opened a separate Firefox browser session for one of the switches the upgrade moved seamlessly.

Once complete, we will move on to our preliminary settings scope for this project.

Philip Elder
Microsoft High Availability MVP
Co-Author: SBS 2008 Blueprint Book
Our Cloud Service
Twitter: @MPECSInc

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