8.5. Shared Ethernet Adapter

Despite SR-IOV and vNIC, Shared Ethernet is still the most widely used virtualization solution, when it comes to virtualizing Ethernet. The POWER Hypervisor implements internal virtual IEEE802.1q compatible network switches, which, in conjunction with so-called shared Ethernet adapters or SEAs for short, take over the connection to external networks. The shared Ethernet adapters are implemented in software as a layer 2 bridge by the virtual I/O server.

As shown in figure 8.2, a shared Ethernet adapter can have several so-called trunking adapters. The SEA shown has the 3 trunking adapters ent8, ent9 and ent10, all 3 of which are connected to the virtual switch with the name ETHMGMT. In the case shown, all trunking adapters support VLAN tagging. In addition to the port VLAN IDs (PVIDs), the 3 trunking adapters also have additional VLANs via VLAN tagging. In addition to the connection to the virtual switch via the trunking adapter, the SEA also has a connection to an external network by the physical network adapter (ent0). Network packets from client LPARs to external systems are forwarded to the SEA via one of the trunking adapters and then to the external network via the associated physical network adapter. Network packets from external systems to client LPARs are forwarded by the SEA via the trunking adapter with the correct VLAN to the virtual switch, which then forwards the packets to the client LPAR.

SEA with multiple trunking adapters and VLANs
Figure 8.2: SEA with multiple trunking adapters and VLANs.

In the simplest case, a SEA consists of just one trunking adapter. A SEA can have up to 16 trunking adapters, whereby each of the trunking adapters can have up to 20 additional VLANs in addition to the port VLAN ID.

Which SEAs already exist on a virtual I/O server can be found out with the help of the command “vios lssea” (list SEAs):

$ vios lssea ms05-vio1
                                       TIMES   TIMES    TIMES    BRIDGE
ent33  Sharing  1         PRIMARY_SH  1        1       0         Partial
ent34  Sharing  1         PRIMARY_SH  1        1       0         Partial

Some basic information is displayed for each SEA, such as the HA mode (see later), the priority of the SEA, as well as information on how often the SEA was already primary or backup.