A DRS cluster has certain processor compatibility requirements.

To avoid limiting the capabilities of DRS, you should maximize the processor compatibility of source and destination hosts in the cluster.

vMotion transfers the running architectural state of a virtual machine between underlying ESXi hosts. vMotion compatibility means that the processors of the destination host must be able to resume execution using the equivalent instructions where the processors of the source host were suspended. Processor clock speeds and cache sizes might vary, but processors must come from the same vendor class (Intel versus AMD) and the same processor family to be compatible for migration with vMotion.

Processor families are defined by the processor vendors. You can distinguish different processor versions within the same family by comparing the processors’ model, stepping level, and extended features.

Sometimes, processor vendors have introduced significant architectural changes within the same processor family (such as 64-bit extensions and SSE3). VMware identifies these exceptions if it cannot guarantee successful migration with vMotion.

vCenter Server provides features that help ensure that virtual machines migrated with vMotion meet processor compatibility requirements. These features include:

  • Enhanced vMotion Compatibility (EVC) – You can use EVC to help ensure vMotion compatibility for the hosts in a cluster. EVC ensures that all hosts in a cluster present the same CPU feature set to virtual machines, even if the actual CPUs on the hosts differ. This prevents migrations with vMotion from failing due to incompatible CPUs.

    Configure EVC from the Cluster Settings dialog box. The hosts in a cluster must meet certain requirements for the cluster to use EVC. For information about EVC and EVC requirements, see the vCenter Server and Host Management documentation.

  • CPU compatibility masks – vCenter Server compares the CPU features available to a virtual machine with the CPU features of the destination host to determine whether to allow or disallow migrations with vMotion. By applying CPU compatibility masks to individual virtual machines, you can hide certain CPU features from the virtual machine and potentially prevent migrations with vMotion from failing due to incompatible CPUs.