pfSense + 10GbE + Bridge

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As a recent upgrade I switched to pfSense as a home router/firewall. In my test lab for pfSense I have an Supermicro X10SDV which has two onboard 10GbE  ports combined with a PCIe Intel X540-T2 dual-port 10GbE NIC, giving me access to 4x 10GbE ports.

Currently the smallest and most affordable 8-port 10GbE switches are still ~$600+ and from what I can tell, loud and power hungry. My goal, in addition to setting up a new router/firewall, was to use this as a low-power 4-port 10GbE switch by simply creating a bridge between the 4x10GbE ports and 1x vmx3 NIC to give the local box 10GbE access. This would allow me to have up to 4 additional devices in my house all on 10Gb.

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After this weekends network card passthrough fail with the EXPI9404PT on VMware 6.0 I was feeling pretty discouraged, so I took a break for a day. I decided to try again today since I have a couple other models of network cards in my currently running lab:

This was actually pretty inconvenient, as I had to shut down all my VMs, shut down the host, pull the card, add the EXPI9404PT, boot up, and reconfigure all of my vSwitches with the new vmnics. It worked, but it was a step I was certainly hoping to avoid. On the plus side, newer network cards should hopefully be a little more efficient — I read something like 2.5W vs 5.6W. Not earth shattering, but it’s something!

I figured I’d save myself the hassle and start with the higher model card — just seems like I should have better luck, right?

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I recently picked up an X10SDV-F to use in my home lab. The goal was to replace some aging components, including an older virtual server and my loud and power hungry firewall.

The X10SDV features an 8-core/16-thread 45W CPU, and can support up to 128GB of ram, has two 1GB NICS, two 10GB NICS and an open PCIe 3.0 slot. My goal was to throw a spare 4-port NIC in the open PCIe slot and pass it through to a pfSense virtual machine to replace the aging firewall, and then run the rest of the network off the 4 ports, 2 for management/vlans, and the two 10GB ports for storage, since I have my storage server on 10GB already.

This seemed very straight forward, until I went to use any one of my spare network cards:

Sure, these are a few years old (~5 years), but they’re solid Intel NICs. My first goal was to use the spare EXPI9404PT since I had a few of these on a shelf not being used anyway. I had already tested this card, it was working, so I threw it in the new X10SDV and fired it up.

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