To use Fibre Channel over Ethernet (FCoE), configure appropriate adapters on your host.
The adapters that VMware supports generally fall into two categories, hardware FCoE adapters and software FCoE adapters that use the native FCoE stack in ESXi.
For information on adapters that can be used with VMware FCoE, see the VMware Compatibility Guide
Hardware FCoE Adapters
This category includes a specialized offloaded Converged Network Adapters (CNAs) that contain network and Fibre Channel functionalities on the same card.
When such adapter is installed, your host detects and can use both CNA components. In the vSphere Client, the networking component appears as a standard network adapter (vmnic) and the Fibre Channel component as a FCoE adapter (vmhba). You do not need to configure the hardware FCoE adapter to use it.
Software FCoE Adapters
A software FCoE adapter uses the native FCoE protocol stack in ESXi to perform some of the FCoE processing. You must use the software FCoE adapter with a compatible NIC.
VMware supports two categories of NICs with the software FCoE adapters.
NICs With Partial FCoE Offload
The extent of the offload capabilities might depend on the type of the NIC. Generally, the NICs offer Data Center Bridging (DCB) and I/O offload capabilities.
NICs Without FCoE Offload
Any NICs that offer Data Center Bridging (DCB) and have a minimum speed of 10 Gbps. The network adapters are not required to support any FCoE offload capabilities.
Unlike the hardware FCoE adapter, the software adapter must be activated. Before you activate the adapter, you must properly configure networking.
The number of software FCoE adapters you activate corresponds to the number of physical NIC ports. ESXi supports a maximum of four software FCoE adapters on one host.