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HOW TO: What's New in VMware vSphere Hypervisor 5.5 (ESXi 5.5)

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Andrew Hancock (VMware vExpert / EE MVE^2)
MVE^2, Expert of the Year 2016-2011, Scribe 2016-2012, Author of the Year 2016,2013-2012 VMware vExpert 2016-2011 27 years of experience.
HOW TO: What's New in VMware vSphere Hypervisor 5.5 (ESXi 5.5)

Just to clear up some confusion amongst VMware Administrators, and "newbie" VMware Administrators, that are joining the VMware World for the first time. VMware refers to the FREE registered version of ESXi as VMware vSphere Hypervisor, the PAID licensed version as VMware vSphere or VMware ESXi

Both the VMware vSphere Hypervisor and VMware vSphere or VMware ESXi are exactly the same downloads, they perform the same functions, only the license key changes the functionality of the product, the running OS code, is exactly the same. Both FREE and PAID versions of ESXi 5.5 now have the same memory limit, which is 4TB maximum, there is no longer any restriction on the amount of host memory which may be used by virtual machines used by the FREE version of ESXi 5.5.

In this article, I'll be using the product name VMware vSphere Hypervisor 5.5 (ESXi 5.5) throughout, which is the FREE Registered product.

VMware vSphere Hypervisor 5.5 (ESXi 5.5) was released on 22 September 2013, and this latest version has new support for the following:-

4TB maximum host memory.
320 physical CPUs per host.
4096 virtual CPUs per host.
Support for virtual machine hardware version 10
Hot-Pluggable PCIe SSD Devices
Support for Reliable Memory Technology
Enhancements to CPU C-States
Expanded vGPU Support
Graphic Acceleration for Linux Guests

62TB virtual disks (vmdk).
(see below)
32GB Host Memory Limited REMOVED for the FREE registered version of ESXi
(see below)

The official VMware whitepaper is here - VMware vSphere Platform Whats New

In the rest of this article, I'm going to discuss two of the last items, above, which have the biggest impact on this VMware vSphere Hypervisor 5.5 (ESXi 5.5) release.

1. 62TB virtual machine disks

For many years the maximum size of a virtual machine disk (VMDK) has been 2TB (- 512 bytes), also the maximum size of VMFS datastore, until VMware vSphere Hypervisor 5.0, has also been 2TB (- 512 bytes) without using extents.

Configuration Maximums document can be found here - Configuration Maximums for VMware® vSphere 5.5

With the release of VMware vSphere Hypervisor 5.5 (ESXi 5.5), virtual machine disks can now be created up to 62TB. (Maximum size of VMFS datastore is 64TB). No longer is there a need to span disks within the Operating System, or connect RDMs (RAW LUNs), or add an iSCSI LUNs via Microsoft initiator. VMware Virtual disks (VMDK) larger than 2TB, can now be created in their native format e.g. a VMDK.
62TB VMware virtual machine disk62TB VMware virtual machine disk

2. 32GB Host Memory Limited [b]REMOVED[/b] for the [b]FREE registered[/b] version of ESXi

With the release of VMware vSphere Hypervisor 5.0 and 5.1, there has been a hard limit of 32GB for the FREE Registered version of the Hypervisor.
ESXi 5.1 with 4 CPUs and 32GB of RAMIf you tried to exceed this limit, by adding extra memory, some VMware Circles, would tell you the machine would refuse to boot, this is not quite true.

I've added more memory to the same server as above.
ESXi 5.1 with 4 CPUs and 96GB of RAMThe server boots, but you will notice if you login with the vSphere Client, see my previous article Part 2: HOW TO: Connect to the VMware vSphere Hypervisor 5.1 (ESXi 5.1) using the vSphere Client

the following dialogue will appear
Disable VMware ESXiindicating that your ESX license has expired because you have exceeded 32 GB of memory, and in the bottom tray -
License Period ExpiredSolutions for this issue:-
Remove the Additional Host Memory

see my EE article - HOW TO: Upgrade from VMware vSphere Hypervisor ESXi 5.1 to VMware vSphere Hypervisor ESXi 5.5 for FREE
The same server as above, but with ESXi 5.5 installed.
ESXi 5.5 installed with 16 CPUs and 96GB of RAMConnecting via the vSphere Client reveals 96GB of Memory available and 16 CPUs, using the FREE Registered version of  VMware vSphere Hypervisor ESXi 5.5!
16 CPUs - no restriction with the FREE Registered version96GB available of memory available to the FREE Registered version
Adding 1TB of memory to the FREE Registered version of vSphere Hypervisor ESXi 5.5.
ESXi 5.5 with 1TB of RAMvSphere Client connected to ESXi 5.5 with 1TB of RAM
So if you are looking for a VMware Hypervisor which supports more than 32GB of Host Memory and virtual disks larger than 2TB, I would recommend upgrading to the FREE Registered version of vSphere Hypervisor ESXi 5.5. As you can see by my demonstration above the FREE Registered version of vSphere Hypervisor ESXi 5.5. is truly unlocked, and you can use 1TB of Memory and 16 CPUs which should be ample for any home or small business network. The maximum amount of memory the Hypervisor can support is 4TB and 320 CPUs.

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Thank you for reading my article, please leave valuable feedback. If you liked my VMware article and would like to see more Articles from me, please click the Yes button near the: Was this article helpful? at the bottom of this article just below and to the right of this information. Thank You. Do not forget if you have a question about this article or another VMware, Virtualisation, Windows Server 2012 question, why not post a Question for me and the other Experts Exchange Experts in the VMware, Virtualisation, Windows 2008, Windows 2012 Zones. I look forward to hearing from you. - Andy :- twitter @einsteinagogo
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by:ITworks
So what reason would a small business need to purchase VMware if the free version has removed the biggest limitations?
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by:Andrew Hancock (VMware vExpert / EE MVE^2)
@ITWorks, please post a new question, and myself or other Experts can discuss this.
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