USB controllers can be added to virtual machines to support USB passthrough from an ESXi host or from a client computer to a virtual machine.

About this task

You can add one virtual xHCI controller, one virtual EHCI controller, and one virtual UHCI controller per virtual machine. With Hardware Version 11, the supported number of root hub ports per xHCI controller is eight (four logical USB 3.0 ports and four logical USB 2.0 ports).

The conditions for adding a controller vary, depending on the device version, the type of passthrough (host or client computer), and the guest operating system.

Table 1. USB Controller Support

Controller type

Supported USB Device Version

Supported for Passthrough from ESXi Host to VM

Supported for Passthrough from Client Computer to VM

EHCI+UHCI

2.0 and 1.1

Yes

Yes

xHCI

3.0, 2.0, and 1.1

Yes (USB 3.0, 2.0, and 1.1 devices only)

Yes (Linux, Windows 8 and later, and Windows Server 2012 and later guests)

For Mac OS X systems, the EHCI+UHCI controller is enabled by default and is required for USB mouse and keyboard access.

For virtual machines with Linux guests, you can add one or both controllers, but 3.0 superspeed devices are not supported for passthrough from an ESXi host to a virtual machine. You cannot add two controllers of the same type.

For USB passthrough from an ESXi host to a virtual machine, the USB arbitrator can monitor a maximum of 15 USB controllers. If your system includes controllers that exceed the 15 controller limit and you connect USB devices to them, the devices are not available to the virtual machine.

Prerequisites

  • ESXi hosts must have USB controller hardware and modules that support USB 3.0, 2.0, and 1.1 devices present.

  • Client computers must have USB controller hardware and modules that support USB 3.0, 2.0, and 1.1 devices present.

  • To use the xHCI controller on a Linux guest, ensure that the Linux kernel version is 2.6.35 or later.

  • Verify that the virtual machine is powered on.

  • Required Privilege (ESXi host passthrough): Virtual Machine > Configuration > Add or Remove Device

Procedure

  1. Click Virtual Machines in the VMware Host Client inventory.
  2. Right-click a virtual machine in the list and select Edit settings from the pop-up menu.
  3. On the Virtual Hardware tab, click Add other device, and click USB Controller from the drop-down menu.

    The new USB controller appears at the bottom of the Virtual Hardware device list.

  4. Expand New USB Controller to change the USB controller type.

    If compatibility errors appear, fix them before you add the controller.

  5. Click Save.

What to do next

Add one or more USB devices to the virtual machine.