Note: Sorry for the poor quality of graphics in my post. Some of them were taken from videos and powerpoints (so I could get this content to you quickly), and not from a live system. I will probably set a reminder to myself to update them once I’ve got my paws on the GA release.

vSphere 5.5 introduces a new virtual compatibility version that is now 10. This is sometimes abbreviated to vHW 10.  You might recall we dispensed with “Virtual Hardware Level” values – for something a bit more user-friendly which is compatibility levels. It allows us to express compatibilities based on both hardware and VMware Tools levels as single entity.

62TB Virtual Disks (yes, 62TB, not 64TB!)

vHW 10 introduces support for 62TB virtual disks. That’s something folks have been wanting VMware to do for sometime. Up until now only physical mode RDM’s supported 64TB volumes/LUNs. That’s sounds okay, until you remember that there are some products that we have that are incompatible with RDMs such as vCloud Director. So 62TB virtual disks are now support. Why 62TB and not 64TB. Well, we reserve 2TB of disk space for features like VM snapshots. The last thing you want to do is create a 64TB LUN, and fill it with a 64TB virtual disk, and find you had no space left for snapshots.  This release also introduces support for 62TB virtual RDMS as well.

Now there are some limitations. We currently don’t support the extension of existing <2TB into the >2TB range whilst the VM is powered on. The important point is that there is no onerous conversion process required to get to the 62TB virtual disk unlike some other foreign virtualization vendor who remain unmentioned. J There are however, some requirements and incompatiablities – some of them are not within VMware’s control, and some are. Here’s a quit hit list.

1. BusLogic Controllers (commonly used by default by Windows NT/2000) are not supported

2. The partition(s) within the disk need to be GPT not MBR formatted. There are tools that will convert this for you, but not for boot disks. Also beware of using small cluster sizes on partitions. Anything <16K will mean you won’t be able to take a partition and increase it to the maximum 62TB size. So in a nutshell there’s some guest operating system limits.

2. vSAN is not supported

3. VMware FT is not supported

4. You must use the new web-client, as the Ye Olde vSphere C# client will spit back errors.


Stay tuned to the blog, as I have a much longer blog post on 62TB support. But I need to verify it against the GA release before I click the publish button.

New SATA Controller – Advanced Controller Interface (AHCI)

vHW 10 introduces a new device type called the AHCI. This SATA controller allows for up 30 devices per controller, and we support 4 of them. That’s a max of 120 devices (just in case you need to take out a calculator to work out 4×30). Compatibility is pretty good – and there’s still an IDE controller I needed. One anomaly is if your running Mac OS X on ESX (now there’s a popular configuration!) which requires a CDROM on the AHCI, because Apple dropped support for IDE some years ago.


GPU Support:

I’m embarrassed to say I don’t know much about GPU support. Mainly because my ESX hosts are running on Jurrasic hardware and none of my GPU’s are supported. I’m also embarrassed to say I didn’t delve into it in my last outing with Horizon View.  The good news is the hardware support is improving not just NVIDA cards, but also Intel/AMD as well. If you have looked at this GPU has three modes – manual, hardware and automatic. Automatic seems the way to go, as it tries the hardware-assisted method first, but fails back to software mode if the GPU isn’t support. A hardware mode seems risky to me, as this can break vMotion if the destination host doesn’t have the supported hardware.  The other interesting news is we now support Linux device drivers as well. That rather sets us apart as the only virtualization vendor with a complete set of enhanced drivers for Linux.