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VMware Hardware Compatibility Guide

Are you planning to buy hardware to setup the VMware vSphere/vCloud  environment ? We need to choose the hardware very carefully since most of the virtualization  features are depends on the server hardware. Technology is growing very rapidly and hardware vendors may push the hardware without those virtualization  features. For an example, if you buy a hardware with processor which doesn’t  support EPT (Extended Page Table),  you can’t create the VMware vSphere nested environment(VM inside another VM).

The below technologies needs to be consider prior to procuring the hardware(Based on Intel processors),

  1. Intel® Virtualization Technology   VT-x (Formerly known as VT)
  2. Intel® Virtualization Technology for Directed I/O  VT-d 
  3. Intel® VT-x with Extended Page Tables EPT 
  4. Intel® Hyper-Threading Technology 

Intel® Virtualization Technology   VT-x (CPU Virtualization)

VT-x is a Intel’s virtualization technology for X86 platform.It enable faithful abstraction of the full prowess of Intel CPU to a virtual machine (VM).All software inside the VM can run without any performance or compatibility hit, as if it was running natively on a dedicated CPU environment. VMware V-Motion from one Intel CPU generation to another, as well as nested virtualization is possible using this technology.

Intel® Virtualization Technology for Directed I/O  VT-d : (I/O virtualization)

Intel® Virtualization Technology for Directed I/O (VT-d)  can help end users improve security and reliability of the systems and also improve performance of I/O devices in virtualized environments by directly mapping the PCI I/O units to the VM  with help of  “VMware VMDirectPath for direct access to PCI cards”.  But if you map the I/O devices directly to the VM, then you can’t migrate the VM from one host to another.

Intel® VT-x with Extended Page Tables EPT: (Memory Virtualization)

According to the Intel release notes ” Intel® VT-x with Extended Page Tables (EPT), also known as Second Level Address Translation (SLAT), provides acceleration for memory intensive virtualized applications. Extended Page Tables in Intel® Virtualization Technology platforms reduces the memory and power overhead costs and increases battery life through hardware optimization of page table management.” Processor must have this feature to create the nested virtualization environment. This memory virtualization  features allow abstraction and isolation of memory on a per VM basis. These features also make live migration of VMs possible, and add to fault tolerance. Examples of memory virtualization features include:Extended page tables (EPT), accessed and dirty bits logging, page modification logging (PML), and EPT page switching.

Intel® Hyper-Threading Technology (Optional)

System processor needs to perform many operations on the virtualized environment. Intel HT- delivers two processing threads per physical core. Highly threaded applications can get more work done in parallel, completing tasks sooner.

There are also other hardware Virtualization technologies like Intel® Graphics Virtualization Technology (Intel® GVT) & Network function virtualization (NFV)  but i have never used it.

We have to disable CPU’s “Trusted Execution Technology” to make EPT & VT-X works as we expected on VMware vSphere environment.

Where can i find the VMware Hardware Compatibility list ?

You can get the VMware ESXi hypervisor compatibility hardware/processors list here .Once you have opened the link , you will get window like below. Here you will get guided search wizard as well.

VMware Hardware Compatibility list
VMware Hardware Compatibility list

Select the required Product Release version and select the require hardware or features and click on “update and view Results” .

VMware Hardware Compatibility  - search & update
VMware Hardware Compatibility – search & update

You can also use the wizard based simplified search.Click on the “Use the Guided Search wizard”.

1.Select the VMware product and version.

VMware Hardware Compatibility  -Select Product and Version
VMware Hardware Compatibility -Select Product and Version

2.Select the server and select the system type.Here i just selected the feature .

VMware Hardware Compatibility  - Select the system Type
VMware Hardware Compatibility – Select the system Type

3.Select the hardware partner and click on Next.

VMware Hardware Compatibility  - Select Hardware Vendor
VMware Hardware Compatibility – Select Hardware Vendor

4.Here is the results.

VMware Hardware Compatibility  - Results
VMware Hardware Compatibility – Results

Hope this hardware comparability search wizard will help you to find the right hardware.

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