For a long time, storage has been outclassed when compared to the leaps and bounds compute performance has grown over the last ten years. With the adoption of the NVMe (non-volatile memory express) as a standard for accessing flash storage, this is no longer true. We can now exploit the levels of parallelism available in modern NVMe devices to achieve lower latency and greater performance. 

With the launch of DirectFlash™ Fabric earlier in 2019, FlashArray//X™ is now capable of delivering the low latencies and performance gains for shared storage environments. Prior to any implementation of NVM Express over fabrics (NVMe-oF), those wishing to benefit from NVMe storage would need to use direct-attached storage. This is not always ideal as many applications and organizations depend on centralized storage with data services in order to reduce costs and complexity, and increase efficiency. 

The purpose of this blog post is to provide the steps required to implement NVMe-oF using RDMA over Converged Ethernet (RoCE) for SUSE Enterprise Linux (SLES) 15 and subsequent releases. 

An important item to note is that RoCE requires a lossless network, requiring global pause flow control or PFC to be configured on the network for smooth operation. 

All of the below steps are implemented using Mellanox Connect-X4 adapters.

System and software requirements: 

  • SUSE 15 or higher (SLES and OpenSUSE).
  • A Mellanox Connect-X4 adapter installed in the system.
  • The Development Tools Module should be added in Extension and Module Selection.
  • The latest Mellanox OFED package for SUSE needs to be downloaded, but not installed. This was the package used in the below steps.

Step 1. Install the following packages using the zypper package manager on the host.

  • rpm-build
  • nvme-cli

Step 2. Configure multipathing on the host.

  • NVMe multipathing needs to be disabled by default. To disable NVMe native multipathing add “nvme-core.multipath=N” as a boot parameter. 
  • Add the following device definition to the multipath.conf file :
device {
vendor                              “NVME”
product                            “Pure Storage FlashArray”
path_selector                 “queue-length 0”
path_grouping_policy “multibus”
fast_io_fail_tmo           10
user_friendly_names   no
no_path_retry               0
features                            “0”
dev_loss_tmo                60
polling_interval            10

Step 3. Build the Mallanox OFED package to get access to the QOS tool on the host

tar -xvf /<path to package>/MLNX_OFED_SRC-4.6-

In the decompressed folder install the source rpm 

rpm -ivh /<path-to-decompressed-folder>/MLNX_OFED_SRC-4.6-
  • Build the Mellanox kernel specification to get access to the Mellanox QOS utility
rpmbuild -bp /usr/src/packages/SPECS/mlnx-ofa_kernel.spec
  • Once built use the mlnx_qos tool to set the correct PFC queue and DSCP trust state  for each mellanox port used for NVME-oF through RoCE in the system (the ports on our system were named eth6 and eth7)
/usr/src/packages/BUILD/mlnx-ofa_kernel-4.6/source/ofed_scripts/utils/mlnx_qos -i eth6 –pfc=0,0,0,1,0,0,0,0
/usr/src/packages/BUILD/mlnx-ofa_kernel-4.6/source/ofed_scripts/utils/mlnx_qos -i eth7 –pfc=0,0,0,1,0,0,0,0
/usr/src/packages/BUILD/mlnx-ofa_kernel-4.6/source/ofed_scripts/utils/mlnx_qos -i eth6 –trust dscp
/usr/src/packages/BUILD/mlnx-ofa_kernel-4.6/source/ofed_scripts/utils/mlnx_qos -i eth7 –trust dscp

Step 4. Set the TOS for RoCE ports 
Run the following command loop to set the TOS for all RDMA interfaces to 106 :

for f  in ls /sys/class/infiniband;
   echo “setting TOS for IB interface:” $f
   mkdir -p /sys/kernel/config/rdma_cm/$f/ports/1
   echo 106 > /sys/kernel/config/rdma_cm/$f/ports/1/default_roce_tos

Step 5. Generate and get the NVMe qualified name on the host and then configure and connect some volumes to it in the Pure Storage Web GUI.

Run the following command to generate the NVMe qualified name(NQN) and retrieve it for later use. An NQN serves the same purpose as an internet qualified name (IQN) for iSCSI or world wide name(WWN) for Fiber channel.

nvme gen-hostnqn > /etc/nvme/hostnqn

cat /etc/nvme/hostnqn

Navigate to the Storage View and in the hosts tab create a host. Once this host is created navigate to its management view and in the hosts ports section select the three vertical ellipses and select “Configure NQNs…” 

Using the output from cat /etc /nvme/hostnqn copy this value into the dialog and press Add.  

Connect the required volumes to this host.

Note the NVMe-roce ports and IP addresses to connect to in the Settings view under the network tab. 

Step 6. Load the required NVMe kernel modules and connect the FlashArray volumes using RoCE.

First load nvme-core and nvme-rdma :

modprobe nvme_core
modprobe nvme-rdma

Then discover the NQN for the NVMeoF target at the NVMe-roce ports noted in the FlashArray GUI. 

nvme discover -t rdma -a <IP address of initiator>

Take note of the subnqn in the returned text as this is used while connecting to the storage array :

Discovery Log Number of Records 2, Generation counter 2

=====Discovery Log Entry 0======

trtype:  rdma
adrfam:  ipv4
subtype: nvme subsystem
treq: not required
portid:  1
trsvcid: 4420
rdma_prtype: roce-v2
rdma_qptype: connected
rdma_cms: rdma-cm
rdma_pkey: 0x0000
=====Discovery Log Entry 1======
trtype:  rdma
adrfam:  ipv4
subtype: discovery subsystem
treq: not required
portid:  1
trsvcid: 4420
rdma_prtype: roce-v2
rdma_qptype: connected
rdma_cms: rdma-cm
rdma_pkey: 0x0000

For each port to connect to on the FlashArray run the following to connect to all volumes for the relevant host via multiple paths:

nvme connect -t rdma -a <IP Address> -s 4420 -n <subnqn value>

Ensure device-mapper multipath is enabled and check the devices which have been returned to it :

systemctl enable multipathd
systemctl start multipathd
Multipath -ll

The devices connected will show up as below if configured correctly:

eui.004236a5adeeca4924a9377e000114de dm-6 NVME,Pure Storage FlashArray
size=1.0T features=’0′ hwhandler=’0′ wp=rw
-+- policy='queue-length 0' prio=1 status=active
|- 0:0:1:70878 nvme0n1 259:0  active ready running
|- 1:2:1:70878 nvme1n1 259:2  active ready running
– 2:3:1:70878 nvme2n1 259:4  active ready running

Step 7. Set the best practice parameters for the NVMe-oF connected devices

Run the following commands to set queue management values for the connected block storage devices : 

for d in dm-2; do
echo 0 > /sys/block/$d/queue/add_random
echo noop  > /sys/block/$d/queue/scheduler
echo 512 > /sys/block/$d/queue/nr_requests;
echo 2 > /sys/block/$d/queue/rq_affinity
for c in 0 1; do
echo 0 > /sys/block/nvme$c”n”1/queue/add_random
echo 2 > /sys/block/nvme$c”n”1/queue/rq_affinity

And that is it! Now the devices can be mounted and use the same as any other, with the added benefit of lower latency, comprehensive data services and management tools offered by FlashArray™. 

Additional Resources: 

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