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Monday, March 08, 2010

NPIV FAQs for Vritual I/O Server Environment


This document covers the most frequently asked questions for NPIV in a Virtual I/O Server (VIOS) environment.
This applies to VIOS version 2.1 and above.


1. What is NPIV?
N_Port ID Virtualization(NPIV) is a standardized method for virtualizing a physical fibre channel port. An NPIV-capable fibre channel HBA can have multiple N_Ports, each with a unique identity. NPIV coupled with the Virtual I/O Server (VIOS) adapter sharing capabilities allow a physical fibre channel HBA to be shared across multiple guest operating systems. The PowerVM implementation of NPIV enables POWER logical partitions (LPARs) to have virtual fibre channel HBAs, each with a dedicated world wide port name (WWPN). Each virtual fibre channel HBA has a unique SAN identity similar to that of a dedicated physical HBA.

2. What are the minimum requirements for NPIV?

  • A POWER6-based System p server OR

  • Minimum system firmware levels

    • EL340_039 for IBM Power 520 and 550
    • EM340_036 for IBM Power 560 and 570

  • One of the following JS blade types. Note: NPIV is only supported on the BladeCenter H

    • JS12 (7998-60X)
    • JS22 (7998-61X)
    • JS23 (7778-23X)
    • JS43 (7778-23X + FC8446)
    • BladeCenter H (7989-BCH)

  • Minimum one supported Fibre Channel adapter (see FAQ 3 & 4)

  • NPIV-enabled SAN switch.
    Only the SAN switch which is attached to the Fibre Channel adapter in the VIOS needs to be NPIV-capable. Other switches in your SAN do not need to be NPIV-capable.

  • Switch levels

    • Brocade v6.1.0 or later
    • McData v9.7 or later
    • Cisco v3.2 (3) or later


    • HMC 7.3.4 or later
    • Virtual I/O Server (Fixpack 20.1) or later
    • AIX 5.3 TL 9 or later
    • AIX 6.1 TL 2 or later
    • IBM i 6.1 with 6.1.1 LIC or later

    3. What are the supported Fibre Channel adapters for NPIV in a POWER6 System p server?
    The 8 Gigabit Dual Port Fibre Channel adapter, feature code 5735, is the only supported adapter.
    The minimum firmware requirement to enable NPIV for AIX on this adapter is 110305 (# lsmcode -d fcs#).
    You can obtain this image from the Microcode downloads site--select Power from Product Group, then Firmware and HMC Product.

    4. What are the supported Fibre Channel adapters for the IBM BladeCenter H?
    Fibre Channal Module Feature Code
    ---------------------------------------------- ----------------
    Emulex 8Gb Fibre Channel Expansion Card (CIOv) 8240
    QLogic 8Gb Fibre Channel Expansion Card (CIOv) 8242 (DUAL port)
    QLogic 8Gb Fibre Channel Expansion Card (CFFh) 8271

    Note: NPIV is only supported on the BladeCenter H and the firmware level of the Fibre Channel adapter must support NPIV.

    5. Can I have dual NPIV capable Fibre Channel adapters on the same VIOS in different zones/fabrics?

    6. Is it possible to SAN boot the VIOS using the same Fibre Channel adapter being used to service NPIV traffic?
    With proper zoning, it is possible to SAN boot the VIOS with the same host bus adapter that is servicing the NPIV traffic. The VIOS would need to be running before the NPIV-based traffic can serve the clients.
    Use care with this configuration because even a simple error in zoning could disable a VIOS and result in loss of the services it provides.