Dell Poweredge R710 iSOE key DDR3L Broadcom Quad NICs

By admin, August 27, 2010 12:09

Finally I’ve got time to inspect each individual part thoroughly and the following is my findings. 

  1. Dell Powerdge iSCSI Offload Key for LOM NICs. Strange funny little stuff that makes a hell lot of difference for some people. Broadcom charges this for extra on their 5709 NICs (5709C not 5709S), the same apply to HP Pro-liant NICs.According to one of the EQL engineer we talked to, it is still best NOT TO use 5709C as ISOE HBA in ESX4.1 as it will lost Jumbo Frame feature and some other nice features will be gone if HAB mode is used with EQL boxes.IMG_2728


  2. DDR3 Low Voltage ECC+Buffer R-DIMM 8GB by Samsung: It’s nice to have that 20% saving, but when you add 2DPC, your nice 20% power saving (ie, 1.35V) will be disabled automatically (ie, raise to 1.5V instead), good part is you still have that 1333Mhz bandwidth with 2DPC. DDR3L 1.35V will only apply when it’s in 1DPC mode.IMG_2735What about 3DPC? Old story applies, it’s 800Mhz, tested it and proved it and if populate with 3DPC and fully filled that 18 DIMMs (ie, 144GB), it will take twice the time to verify and boot the server, so it’s better not to as you lost 40% bandwidth is very important for ESX.


    Dell’s on-line documentation has no where indicates my findings and my findings completes what I found at HP’s resources previously. Btw, why does DDR3L still need that aluminum cap for heat dissipation if it’s voltage is really that low?

    More about Samsung’s DDR3 Low-Voltage Ram

  3. Broadcom NetXtreme II 5709 Gigabit NIC w TOE & iSCSI Offload, Quad Port, Copper, PCIe-4: Nice to have two of this besides the embedded quad NICs, so total you will have 12 NICs within one server. The chipset is still BCM5709CC0KPBG, there is no iSCSI key found on the NIC, guess it’s been embedded already as well.IMG_2732


5 Responses to “Dell Poweredge R710 iSOE key DDR3L Broadcom Quad NICs”

  1. admin says:

    In order for ESX to recognize Broadcom’s NIC as a hardware HBA, yes, you do need to have that iSCSI Key to enable the feature.

    However, I found the software iSCSI is more than enough and it’s actually more flexible in terms of Maximum Number of Offload Connections (see my December 1, 2010 comment) and CPU wise, it only takes 1-2% more CPU with Xeon 5600 series, but may take more (close to 20-30%) if you have 5400 series.

    Performance wise, I did test both, not much difference really, of course, you can use Boot from SAN if you have that iSCSI Key, but most people recommend to use a local storage or SD card instead for installing ESX/ESXi.


    Sorry, I misread your question. You need to contact Dell regrding this issue, the stand alone Quad-Port Broadcom NIC with ISOE should appear in ESX as HBA EVEN WITHOUT the on-board iSOE key.

  2. Phil says:

    I installed the Broadcom NetXtreme II 5709 Gigabit NIC w TOE & iSCSI Offload, Quad Port on the Dell PowerEdge 2950. I did not install the iSCSI Offload Key. The Bios and ESXi 4.1 do not recognized the Broadcom NetXtreme II 5709.

    Do you need the iSCSI Offload Key for the PE2950?

    If the Broadcom NetXtreme II 5709 have it embedded, how come the PE2950 Bios and ESXi 4.1 do not recognized this device?

  3. Freaky says:

    I only have 3 SAN’s (targets) with about 2-4 LUNs on each of them. So if you mean by ‘connection’ targets it should suffice I suppose. If you however mean outstanding commands, buffers, those things 64 is extremely low.

    Thanks for the re’

  4. admin says:

    I quote from an Broadcom expert at EQL.

    There are physical limitations for the Broadcom iSOE cards (iS You will run out of resources on the cards which will limit the number of iSCSI connections when configured as HBA’s as follows:

    Table 2: Maximum Number of Offload Connections

    Offload First Come First Served Reserved Resources Maximum Number of Connections
    TOE only Selected – 1024
    TOE only – Selected 864
    iSCSI only Selected – Between 7 and 100
    iSCSI only – Selected 28

    It has been my experience that HBA mode with First Come First Served reservation policy can support 64
    connections reliably however, there may be other factors in the server that may influence that number yielding less connections.

    To answer your question on how much additional performance you are likely to gain – remember, this type of configuration benefits the SERVER. If you have a high quality honking server class server, it is my opinion that you will see less than a 10% performance benefit which would be in the form of server CPU utilization; nothing else.

  5. Freaky says:

    Could you elaborate on why iSOE shouldn’t be used with ESX 4.1? Dell actually advised the iSOE here…

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