Actual status Mellanox® ConnectX-3 support



  • Hello,

    I consider installing a 10G SFP+ board in my NAS, but did not yet decide which one.

    Intel X520 is a bit dated (PCIE2, heat dissipation, support ending soon)
    Intel X710 expensive
    Perhaps Mellanox® ConnectX-3 the best choice. More actual than a X520 cheaper and lower power consumption.

    However, my impression is that FreeNAS driver support is "so so". And since I do not want to spend days in making a card work (in fact I strongly prefer that it works out of the box), I wonder if there are people here having recent experience with a Mellanox® ConnectX-3 and could advice.

    Sincerely,

    Louis


  • Netgate Administrator

    I would always choose Intel for NICs. I have an older Mellanox NIC, ConnectX-2 maybe?, and whilst I was able to make it work eventually it has always behaved strangely. We don't ship anything with a Mellanox card running pfSense so we don't test it.

    Steve



  • @stephenw10

    Hi Steve,

    Thanks for the replay.

    Two questions:

    • the X520 does have the mentioned disadvantages, so I wonder what you are thinking about X520 versus X710.
    • Reading the first mail in this blog about the scope, I concluded that strictly seen I did post this question in the wrong subforum. What do you think, should the scope of this forum be "hardware in general", should the forum have another name "netgate hardware" or should I have posted this question in another subform and if … which one !? :)

    Sincerely,

    Louis


  • Netgate Administrator

    This is the correct sub-forum. 'Netgate Hardware' is only for discussing issues with hardware we originally sold.

    Steve



  • I have a had great experiences with Chelsio 10Gbit SFP+ cards (e.g. T520, T540) and pfSense. Driver support in FreeBSD is quite good.

    Hope this helps.


  • Netgate Administrator

    Yes, the Chelsio cards work well we use those in several systems.

    They do run hot though. If heat dissipation is an issue for you in your application they may not be suitable.

    Steve



  • @stephenw10 said in Actual status Mellanox® ConnectX-3 support:

    Yes, the Chelsio cards work well we use those in several systems.

    They do run hot though. If heat dissipation is an issue for you in your application they may not be suitable.

    Steve

    Very true - If I recall correctly, the airflow requirement is 200LFM for those cards. Interestingly, it seems some of the T520's have a smaller heatsink compared to the T540's, even though they should both have the same Chelsio T5 ASIC underneath. I have noticed that the T540 I use now appears to run slightly cooler in the same environment than the T520 I used before.



  • @tman222 said in Actual status Mellanox® ConnectX-3 support:

    Chelsio

    Hello,

    I know that people are very positive about Chelsio cards, but I think it are all cards of an older generation. At least here in Europe I have never seen that shops where offering new Chelsio cards.

    However it is true that you can buy them for cheap on ebay (from the USA).

    However, I think I am better off with a modern card. As far as I know now:

    • significant smaller (I am using small mini-ITX-systems, for my FreeNAS ans pFSense);
    • far less heat; (important for multiple reasons: safes energy and is easier to keep cool & quiet !!)
    • pcie3 (at the very least pcie2)
    • more processor off-load (10gbit, smb, iSCSI) Using modern Pentium models, not so powerfull right now.
    • actual and future support

    Thinking that way, and as far as I am aware now, realistically seen, there are only two suppliers: Intel (sfp+ x520, x710 or utp x550) and Mellanox (sfp+ connect3). More choices would be great 😊

    Intel is OK of course, but is not cheap and they are hardly sold second hand. All recent models are in fact not cheap. And “from the outside” connectX3 seems to have the best price performance, but is it true ….. ?

    • Do they have the same performance?
    • Do they work "out of the box"
    • And if they are installed, are they working without problems

    Louis


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