vSphere 5.1 and later supports SR-IOV in an environment with specific configuration only. Some features of vSphere are not functional when SR-IOV is enabled.

Supported Configurations

To use SR-IOV in vSphere 5.5, your environment must meet several configuration requirements.

Table 1. Supported Configurations for Using SR-IOV

Component

Requirements

vSphere

  • Hosts with Intel processors require ESXi 5.1 or later.

  • Hosts with AMD processors are supported with SR-IOV in ESXi 5.5 or later.

Physical host

  • Must be compatible with the ESXi release.

  • Must have an Intel processor if you are running ESXi 5.1, or an Intel or AMD processor if you are running ESXi 5.5 and later.

  • Must support I/O memory management unit (IOMMU), and must have IOMMU enabled in the BIOS.

  • Must support SR-IOV, and must have SR-IOV enabled in the BIOS. Contact the server vendor to determine whether the host supports SR-IOV.

Physical NIC

  • Must be compatible with the ESXi release.

  • Must be supported for use with the host and SR-IOV according to the technical documentation from the server vendor.

  • Must have SR-IOV enabled in the firmware.

PF driver in ESXi for the physical NIC

  • Must be certified by VMware.

  • Must be installed on the ESXi host. The ESXi release provides a default driver for certain NICs, while for others you must download and manually install it.

Guest OS

Must be supported by the NIC on the installed ESXi release according to the technical documentation from the NIC vendor.

VF driver in the guest OS

  • Must be compatible with the NIC.

  • Must be supported on the guest OS release according to the technical documentation from the NIC vendor.

  • Must be Microsoft WLK or WHCK certified for Windows virtual machines.

  • Must be installed on the operating system. The operating system release contains a default driver for certain NICs, while for others you must download and install it from a location provided by the vendor of the NIC or the host.

To verify that your physical hosts and NICs are compatible with ESXi releases, see the VMware Compatibility Guide.

Availability of Features

The following features are not available for virtual machines configured with SR-IOV:

  • vSphere vMotion

  • Storage vMotion

  • vShield

  • NetFlow

  • VXLAN Virtual Wire

  • vSphere High Availability

  • vSphere Fault Tolerance

  • vSphere DRS

  • vSphere DPM

  • Virtual machine suspend and resume

  • Virtual machine snapshots

  • MAC-based VLAN for passthrough virtual functions

  • Hot addition and removal of virtual devices, memory, and vCPU

  • Participation in a cluster environment

  • Network statistics for a virtual machine NIC using SR-IOV passthrough

Note:

Attempts to enable or configure unsupported features with SR-IOV in the vSphere Web Client result in unexpected behavior in your environment.

Supported NICs

All NICs must have drivers and firmware that support SR-IOV. Some NICs might require SR-IOV to be enabled on the firmware. The following NICs are supported for virtual machines configured with SR-IOV:

  • Products based on the Intel 82599ES 10 Gigabit Ethernet Controller Family (Niantic)

  • Products based on the Intel Ethernet Controller X540 Family (Twinville)

  • Products based on the Intel Ethernet Controller X710 Family (Fortville)

  • Products based on the Intel Ethernet Controller XL170 Family (Fortville)

  • Emulex OneConnect (BE3)

Upgrading from vSphere 5.0 and Earlier

If you upgrade from vSphere 5.0 or earlier to vSphere 5.5 or later, SR-IOV support is not available until you update the NIC drivers for the vSphere release. Firmware and drivers that support SR-IOV must be enabled for NICs so that SR-IOV functionality can operate.

Upgrading from vSphere 5.1

Although SR-IOV is supported on ESXi 5.1 hosts satisfying the requirements, you cannot configure SR-IOV on them by using the vSphere Web Client. Use the max_vfs parameter of the NIC driver module to enable SR-IOV on these hosts. See Enabling SR-IOV by Using Host Profiles in the vSphere Web Client or Through an ESXCLI Command.

You also cannot assign an SR-IOV passthrough adapter to a virtual machine on such a host. The adapter is available for virtual machines that are compatible with ESXi 5.5 and later. Although a vCenter Server 5.5 release might be managing an ESXi 5.1 host, the configuration is the same as in release 5.1. You must add a PCI device to the virtual machine hardware and manually select a VF for the device.