Creating an HP IRF (Intelligent Resilient Framework) Networking stack between 2 switches

A short checklist for creating a IRF stack on 2 HP switches. I executed this on 2 HP A3600 EI switches:

  1. Login onto the switch using the console port
  2. sys (Enter system view)
  3. show version (Ensure that both switches are running the same software version)
  4. reset saved-configuration (Reset the config)
  5. irf member 1 renumber 1 (Assign an IRF member number to the first switch)
  6. irf member 1 renumber 2 (Assign an IRF member number to the second switch)
  7. quit (Quit to user view)
  8. save (Save the config)
  9. reboot (Reboot the switches)
  10. irf mac-address persistent always (Enable MAC address persistance)
  11. irf member 1 priority 32 (Set the highest prio on the first member/switch)
  12. irf member 2 priority 30 (Set the second highest prio on the second member/switch)
  13. int GigabitEthernet 1/0/51
  14. shut
  15. int GigabitEthernet 1/0/52
  16. shut
  17. int GigabitEhternet 2/0/51
  18. shut
  19. int GigabitEthernet 2/0/52
  20. shut (shutdown all interfaces you want to use for IRF on both switches)
  21. irf port 1/1 (Create IRF port 1/1 on the first member)
  22. port group interface GigabitEthernet 1/0/51 (add the switch port to the IRF port)
  23. quit
  24. irf port 1/2 (Create IRF port 1/2 on the first member)
  25. port group interface GigabitEthernet 1/0/52 (add the switch port to the IRF port)
  26. quit
  27. irf port 2/1 (Create IRF port 2/1 on the second member)
  28. port group interface GigabitEthernet 2/0/51 (add the switch port to the IRF port)
  29. quit
  30. irf port 2/2 (Create IRF port 2/2 on the second member)
  31. port group interface GigabitEthernet 2/0/52 (add the switch port to the IRF port)
  32. quit
  33. save (Save config)
  34. interface GigabitEthernet 1/0/51
  35. undo shut
  36. interface GigabitEthernet 1/0/52
  37. undo shut
  38. interface GigabitEthernet 2/0/51
  39. undo shut
  40. interface GigabitEthernet 2/0/52
  41. undo shut (enable all interfaces you want to use for IRF on both switches)
  42. irf-port-configuration active (Activate the IRF config on BOTH switches)
  43. Now connect your fiber CROSSWISE, so 1/0/51 to 2/0/52 and 1/0/52 to 2/0/51
  44. ATTENTION: The second IRF member will reboot! Wait for it to get back up. You will see the switches negotiate for about 30 seconds before the IRF becomes active.
  45. If all works well;
  46. quit
  47. save
  48. reboot
  49. disp irf (Display the IRF setup)
  50. disp irf topology (Display the IRF Topology)
  51. Both irf port should be up. If one is DOWN or DIS(abled), something went wrong.
  52. Check the IRF prio of the second member. It should be 30.

Download the IRF Configuration Guide for more information on configuring IRF including optional parameters

I got my info mainly from here and adjusted it so it applies to a stack with just 2 switches.


About Yuri de Jager
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8 Responses to Creating an HP IRF (Intelligent Resilient Framework) Networking stack between 2 switches

  1. Paco says:

    Hey Yuri,

    I found this to be very informative in doing my research so thanks for taking the time to publish.
    One thing that I would like to understand is the lack of a MAD configuration to address split IRF member scenarios.

    It would be good to get your perspective on how to handle this or if you have any insights on the best MAD approach (LACP/BFD/ARP).

    Thanks again!


    • Yuri de Jager says:

      Hi Paco,

      I have reviewed some HP documentation and it seems to me the least complex solution is to use LACP MAD. You only have to enable it on the IRF stack side of the dynamic LACP trunk to the intermediate switch, there is no config needed on the intermediate switch itself.

      BFD MAD will consume 2 physical ports and requires extra ‘permit vlan’ config when using ‘vlan all’, while ARP MAD requires the creation of an extra VLAN and MSTP on the IRF stack and intermediate switch.

      I assume you already have a dynamic LACP trunk to your intermediate switch. Additional config would be to:

      1) sys (enter system-view)
      2) irf domain [id] (assign an ID that is unqiue to this IRF stack)
      3) int bridge-aggregation [id] (enter the config of the LACP trunk to the intermediate switch)
      4) mad enable (enable LACP MAD)
      5) quit
      6) save
      7) reboot

      I would of course recommend testing this before implementing it in a production environment =]

  2. Paco says:

    Hey Yuri,

    Appreciate the response. 🙂

    In my scenario I did not have the option to use an intermediate switch, nor did I want to go crazy with additional MSTP configurations.

    Sooo I went with the following: using (2) 5820-24X switches:

    This switch has (4) 1Gb ports on them so I took (1) port on each switch and configured a BFD/MAD configuration across the (2) devices (Plugged directly to eachother).

    dis mad ver

    Current MAD status: Detect

    Excluded ports(configurable):
    Excluded ports(can not be configured):

    MAD ARP disabled.
    MAD LACP disabled.
    MAD BFD enabled interface:

    Vlan-interface 1000
    mad ip address member 1
    mad ip address member 2

    Interface configuration:

    interface GigabitEthernet 1/0/27
    port link-mode bridge
    port link-type hybrid
    port hybrid vlan 1000 untagged
    stp disable

    interface GigabitEthernet 2/0/27
    port link-mode bridge
    port link-type hybrid
    port hybrid vlan 1000 untagged
    stp disable

    Note: on any interfaces that are associated with any VLAN ALL commands, I removed VLAN 1000 using the following:

    undo vlan 1000

    The result would be to remove the MAD VLAN from those interfaces to end up with a VLAN assignment similar to the following:

    vlan 2-999, vlan 1001-4094

    I tested this configuration successfully last week and still have TONS more to learn as I will be pairing this up with a bunch of ESX clusters using dual port ten gig cards into the 5820s.

    I will be using UMC (Universal Multi Channel) feature on these ten gig cards to carve them up into logical NICs at the BIOS level (Presented to the ESX OS as physical NICs in varying speed configurations) so that they can be used for various services on each of the hosts.

    They will then connect to the same port on each switch to support the full 20gb afforded to me by using IRF.

    Very exciting!



    • Yuri de Jager says:

      That seems to be a valid use for BFD MAD. Thanks for sharing your experiences. Very exiting indeed to link this setup to a vSphere platform using UMC. Good luck!

  3. MAg says:


    I have the same problem. Interfaces remain DOWN.
    I checked configuration several times.
    Someone have any idee?


  4. Happy Geek says:

    Thank you so much!

  5. Hudson says:

    Hi people.

    I’m need to configure 4 HP 5120 on IRF. I have 1 module with 2 SFP+ each and I need to configure this in 4 switch but I got “heartbeat timed out.”.

    I revised the configuration on all but no sucess.

    Any suggestions?

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