Grrr – VMWare NICs !!!

17 01 2012

I use Astaro (www.astaro.com) as my main FW at home running in VMWare – and while it has been great, recently I was having some comms issues. Intermittently wont pass much traffic, some sessions hang etc.

Especially annoying was connecting via RDP to a machine in my DMZ – anyway, started doing some testing with iperf ….

Inside -> DMZ traffic

ash@mon:~$ iperf -t 60 -i 5 -c 10.0.2.240
————————————————————
Client connecting to 10.0.2.240, TCP port 5001
TCP window size: 16.0 KByte (default)
————————————————————
[ 3] local 192.168.0.210 port 42873 connected with 10.0.2.240 port 5001
[ 3] 0.0- 5.0 sec 84.7 MBytes 142 Mbits/sec
[ 3] 5.0-10.0 sec 59.6 MBytes 100 Mbits/sec
[ 3] 10.0-15.0 sec 53.8 MBytes 90.3 Mbits/sec
[ 3] 15.0-20.0 sec 75.4 MBytes 127 Mbits/sec
[ 3] 20.0-25.0 sec 312 KBytes 511 Kbits/sec
[ 3] 25.0-30.0 sec 96.0 KBytes 157 Kbits/sec
[ 3] 30.0-35.0 sec 48.0 KBytes 78.6 Kbits/sec
[ 3] 35.0-40.0 sec 48.0 KBytes 78.6 Kbits/sec
[ 3] 40.0-45.0 sec 192 KBytes 315 Kbits/sec
[ 3] 45.0-50.0 sec 48.0 KBytes 78.6 Kbits/sec
[ 3] 50.0-55.0 sec 712 KBytes 1.17 Mbits/sec
[ 3] 55.0-60.0 sec 48.0 KBytes 78.6 Kbits/sec
[ 3] 0.0-60.6 sec 275 MBytes 38.1 Mbits/sec

Pretty crappy for two VMs connected to the same ESXi host – across a virtual FW also on the same VM host. Starts out great for the first 10 seconds & then dies in the ass.

Anyway – some googling later & I found a post about the results of changing the NICs from Flexible to E1000 under VMWare – couldnt hurt, so made the switch and voila – problem solved

ash@mon:~$ iperf -t 60 -i 5 -c 10.0.2.240
————————————————————
Client connecting to 10.0.2.240, TCP port 5001
TCP window size: 16.0 KByte (default)
————————————————————
[ 3] local 192.168.0.210 port 53361 connected with 10.0.2.240 port 5001
[ 3] 0.0- 5.0 sec 95.0 MBytes 159 Mbits/sec
[ 3] 5.0-10.0 sec 83.4 MBytes 140 Mbits/sec
[ 3] 10.0-15.0 sec 99.4 MBytes 167 Mbits/sec
[ 3] 15.0-20.0 sec 96.4 MBytes 162 Mbits/sec
[ 3] 20.0-25.0 sec 99.7 MBytes 167 Mbits/sec
[ 3] 25.0-30.0 sec 92.8 MBytes 156 Mbits/sec
[ 3] 30.0-35.0 sec 90.5 MBytes 152 Mbits/sec
[ 3] 35.0-40.0 sec 90.0 MBytes 151 Mbits/sec
[ 3] 40.0-45.0 sec 94.9 MBytes 159 Mbits/sec
[ 3] 45.0-50.0 sec 90.6 MBytes 152 Mbits/sec
[ 3] 50.0-55.0 sec 90.5 MBytes 152 Mbits/sec
[ 3] 55.0-60.0 sec 84.1 MBytes 141 Mbits/sec
[ 3] 0.0-60.0 sec 1.08 GBytes 155 Mbits/sec

Muuuuch better – 155 Mbits/sec is more like it.

So – if you are having comms issues with VMs – check your NIC “Hardware” – reading through the KB article http://kb.vmware.com/selfservice/microsites/search.do?language=en_US&cmd=displayKC&externalId=1001805 – it becomes pretty clear why its crap:

Setting the NIC to Flexible works well if you have the VMWare Tools / Drivers loaded – but if you dont, its a 10Mbps NIC – and performs as such.

•Vlance — An emulated version of the AMD 79C970 PCnet32- LANCE NIC, an older 10Mbps NIC with drivers available in most 32-bit guest operating systems except Windows Vista and later. A virtual machine configured with this network adapter can use its network immediately.

•VMXNET — The VMXNET virtual network adapter has no physical counterpart. VMXNET is optimized for performance in a virtual machine. Because operating system vendors do not provide built-in drivers for this card, you must install VMware Tools to have a driver for the VMXNET network adapter available.

•Flexible — The Flexible network adapter identifies itself as a Vlance adapter when a virtual machine boots, but initializes itself and functions as either a Vlance or a VMXNET adapter, depending on which driver initializes it. With VMware Tools installed, the VMXNET driver changes the Vlance adapter to the higher performance VMXNET adapter.

•E1000 — An emulated version of the Intel 82545EM Gigabit Ethernet NIC. A driver for this NIC is not included with all guest operating systems. Typically Linux versions 2.4.19 and later, Windows XP Professional x64 Edition and later, and Windows Server 2003 (32-bit) and later include the E1000 driver.

Loading VMWare Tools = Flexible
No VMWare Tools = E1000

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