SPDX-License-Identifier: Apache-2.0
Copyright (c) 2019-2020 Intel Corporation

SR-IOV Network Operator


Edge deployments consist of both network functions and applications. Cloud-native solutions such as Kubernetes* typically expose only one interface to the application or network function pods. These interfaces are typically bridged interfaces. This means that network functions like Base station or Core network User plane functions and applications such as CDN are limited by the default interface. To address this, two key networking features must be enabled:

  1. Enable a Kubernetes like orchestration environment to provision more than one interface to the application and network function pods.
  2. Enable the allocation of dedicated hardware interfaces to application and network function pods.

Overview of SR-IOV CNI

The Single Root I/O Virtualization (SR-IOV) feature provides the ability to partition a single physical PCI resource into virtual PCI functions that can be allocated to application and network function pods. The SR-IOV CNI plugin enables the Kubernetes pod to be attached directly to an SR-IOV virtual function (VF) using the standard SR-IOV VF driver in the container host’s kernel.

Overview of SR-IOV Device Plugin

The Intel SR-IOV Network device plugin discovers and exposes SR-IOV network resources as consumable extended resources in Kubernetes. This works with SR-IOV VFs in both Kernel drivers and DPDK drivers. When a VF is attached with a kernel driver, the SR-IOV CNI plugin can be used to configure this VF in the pod. When using the DPDK driver, a VNF application configures this VF as required.

Overview of SR-IOV Network Operator

To enable SR-IOV device resource allocation and CNI, Intel® Smart Edge Open uses the SR-IOV Network Operator which wraps SR-IOV CNI and SR-IOV Device Plugin to one simple component. Operator uses custom resources like SriovNetworkNodePolicy and SriovNetwork to configure SR-IOV plugins and Multus CNI.

SR-IOV Network Operator configuration and usage

To deploy the SR-IOV Network Operator to the Intel® Smart Edge Open cluster, sriov_network_operator_enable: True must be set in inventory/default/group_vars/all/10-default.yml. This component is enabled by default in Developer Experience Kit. This will perform Operator install and label every Edge Node as sriov-operator-node=yes which is required by config Daemon. It is deploying SR-IOV CNI plugin and SR-IOV Device plugin on labeled node when first SriovNetworkNodePolicy is applied. It will also automatically install Multus CNI. SR-IOV Network Operator is deployed using Makefiles and it requires additional packages to be installed, which Intel® Smart Edge Opens provides with Operator deployment. Images for Operator are downloaded from Openshift repository and stored in local registry.


SR-IOV Network Operator

The SR-IOV NICs are preconfigured, i.e. the list of network interfaces (for supported HW platform), in 2 ways:

1) Automatically: By using the SR-IOV NICs Detection Application. In order to use it:

  • Find the relevant platform In platform_profiles directory.
  • In the relevant sub directory configure all.yml file according to the instructions in How to edit the configuration YAML file
  • Make sure that the number of NICs in sriov_nics variable is identical to the number of PFs in criteriaLists variable.

2) Manually: The SR-IOV NIC’s are preconfigured, i.e. currently the list of network interfaces is hard coded (for supported HW platform). Users who are installing the DEK on a system with a different NIC’s must update manually the list above with the related interface names in the ESP provisioning configuration file (before Smart Edge Open deployment):

  • generate a custom configuration file with ./ --init-config > custom.yml
  • edit generated file and disable automatic interface detection by setting the flag: sriov_network_detection_application_enable to false under under `group vars: all
  • edit generated file and set sriov_nics under group vars: all:, e.g.

         - name: SEO_DEK
                 sriov_network_detection_application_enable: false
                   c0p0: "<interface name>"
                   c0p1: "<interface name>"
                   c1p0: "<interface name>"
                   c1p1: "<interface name>"

During deployment users can use a flag (in the same yml file) which allows for enabling and disabling the NIC’s configuration: “sriov_network_operator_configure_enable”.

Each NIC interface in the list above is a physical function of a SR-IOV NIC and configured in the same yml file in:

  • The related VF’s in the next section: “sriov_network_node_policies”.
  • The routing data in the section: “sriov_networks”.

SR-IOV Network Operator provides two custom resources to configure SR-IOV network devices and network attachments:

SR-IOV Network Node Policy

Specifies SR-IOV network device configuration by e.g. creating VFs from given NIC interface/PCI address or its priority and defines Config Map for SR-IOV Device plugin. To apply resource to the Operator just simply use command: kubectl apply -f sample-policy.yml. Sample Policy can look like:

kind: SriovNetworkNodePolicy
  name: sample-netdevice-policy
  namespace: sriov-network-operator
  nodeSelector: "true"
  resourceName: intel_sriov_netdevice
  numVfs: 4
    vendor: "8086"
    deviceID: "159b"
    rootDevices: ["0000:31:00.0"]

NOTE: After applying it, Operator will create 4 VFs from given Interface and create Config Map for SR-IOV Device plugin with defined intel_sriov_netdevice as allocable resource and mapped from given interface.

NOTE: If SriovNetworkNodePolicy should be applied only on specific node, "<hostname>" should be added to nodeSelector field.

SR-IOV Network

It defines and configures Network attachment for Multus/SR-IOV CNI. To apply resource to the Operator just simply use command: kubectl apply -f sample-network.yml. Sample network can look like:

kind: SriovNetwork
  name: sriov-seo
  namespace: sriov-network-operator
  resourceName: intel_sriov_netdevice
  networkNamespace: default
  ipam: |-
      "type": "host-local",
      "subnet": "",
      "routes": [{
        "dst": ""
      "gateway": ""

NOTE: After applying it, Operator will create Network Attachment Definition for Multus/SR-IOV CNI plugin with defined sriov-seo network, which applies to intel_sriov_netdevice allocable resource in default namespace.


To create a pod with an attached SR-IOV device, add the network annotation (sriov-seo) to the pod definition and request access to the SR-IOV capable device (

apiVersion: v1
kind: Pod
  name: samplepod
  annotations: sriov-seo
  - name: samplecent
    image: centos/tools
      requests: "1"
      limits: "1"
    command: ["sleep", "infinity"]

To verify that the additional interface was configured, run ip a in the deployed pod. The output should look similar to the following:

1: lo: <LOOPBACK,UP,LOWER_UP> mtu 65536 qdisc noqueue state UNKNOWN group default qlen 1000
    link/loopback 00:00:00:00:00:00 brd 00:00:00:00:00:00
    inet scope host lo
       valid_lft forever preferred_lft forever
2: tunl0@NONE: <NOARP> mtu 1480 qdisc noop state DOWN group default qlen 1000
    link/ipip brd
4: eth0@if3991: <BROADCAST,MULTICAST,UP,LOWER_UP> mtu 1480 qdisc noqueue state UP group default
    link/ether 36:5a:98:29:a3:8d brd ff:ff:ff:ff:ff:ff link-netnsid 0
    inet brd scope global eth0
       valid_lft forever preferred_lft forever
1872: net1: <NO-CARRIER,BROADCAST,MULTICAST,UP> mtu 1500 qdisc mq state DOWN group default qlen 1000
    link/ether 1a:6d:18:3b:e9:9d brd ff:ff:ff:ff:ff:ff
    inet brd scope global net1
       valid_lft forever preferred_lft forever

NOTE: Interface net1 is SR-IOV net device.


It was observed that on Ubuntu 20.04, configuring SR-IOV devices via SriovNetworkNodePolicy using pfNames on CLV NIC can cause some problems. To avoid this issue it is recommended to use rootDevices(see example above) instead of pfNames. To get PCI address of devices lshw -c network -businfo command can be used, i.g:

$ lshw -c network -businfo
Bus info          Device           Class          Description
pci@0000:04:00.0  eno8303          network        NetXtreme BCM5720 2-port Gigabit Ethernet PCIe
pci@0000:04:00.1  eno8403          network        NetXtreme BCM5720 2-port Gigabit Ethernet PCIe
pci@0000:31:00.0  eno12399         network        Intel Corporation
pci@0000:31:00.1  eno12409         network        Intel Corporation
pci@0000:b1:00.0  ens5f0           network        Intel Corporation
pci@0000:b1:00.1  ens5f1           network        Intel Corporation

There is also observed that on Ubuntu 20.04 with only one type of SR-IOV NIC which is CLV, there can be lack of label on the node: "true". To properly apply CLV SR-IOV NIC configuration via SriovNetworkNodePolicy using nodeSelector use entries like "<hostname>" (<hostname> should be replaced by node hostname) or sriov-network-operator-node: "yes". Using example above "true" can be replaced with given examples.


For further details: