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Does VMware ESX 3.5 or 3i work with the Marvell PHY 88E1121 network card?

Posted on 2008-06-17
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Last Modified: 2008-08-07
Hi Guys.

I'm about to order a new server barebones that has dual Marvell PHY 88E1121 NICs. We may wish to run ESX 3.5 or 3i in the future (we are running VMware's free server product at the moment).

Looking at their HCL, VMware don't support this card yet. Although, I've seen seen some entries on the web via google, where people may have successful created an ESX implementation using this card.

Can anyone out there categorically tell me whether this NIC will or will not work with ESX, based on your own experience of trying it.....

Any quick reply appreciated - want to complete in order in the next few hours ideally....

Many thanks,

Bluemercury
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Question by:bluemercury
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larstr earned 500 total points
ID: 21806046
Bluemercury,
VMware ESX doesn't really support many Nic types. Intel e1000 and broadcom gigabit nics have "always" been supported, while 3com nics were supported on 2.x and now also some nvidia, Neterion and Netxen nics are supported on 3.x.

It's not very likely that they are starting to include all kinds of nic drivers as people are used to from other OSes unless the server vendors start shipping their servers with these nics and the customer demand is high enough.

The easiest solution for you would probably be to buy an Intel e1000 dual nic instead.

Lars
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by:bluemercury
ID: 21807512
Many thanks for your post Lars.

Your comment supports what I've also seen in assessing the HCL list. Our problem is that our 'perfect' server we have in mind has only 2 PCIe slots (it's a 1u rack system) and these are going to be filled with a Adaptec SAS RAID controller and SCSI card for our tape backup. If push comes to shove, I've already worked out that we could free up the SCSI card and put the tape backup elsewhere, as we are going to run a 'disk to NAS to tape' backup strategy, and there isn't a need for the backup drive to HAVE to be on this server. It would be nice though. I have looked at both Intel and Broadcom offerings already as possibilities, but it would be nice to use the built in Marvells if possible.

On the VMware community support site, I did read that there was an non-supported community list of additional devices (including NICs) that people had successfull got working under VMware ESX 3.5 by porting Linux drivers into the bootup. I'm going to pursue this avenue with some tests, and will report back!

It would seem crazy that VMware would never implement this support though. Marvell are pretty widespread, and I would hope by the release of version 4 of ESX that they have introduced support.

Many thanks for you post.

Bluemercury
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by:bluemercury
ID: 22180361
Hi larstr
We had a complete turn around on what equipment we were buying, because of the lack of availability of Opteron HE Quad core CPU's in the UK. As such, I've no way of ever testing whether or not these marvell cards work, with or without driver patching. The server we are using has broadcom NICs in it, which have always worked with previous tests.
As such, I'm going to take you on your word and give you the points. From the beginning I could see Marvell were not included on the HCL, and your knowledge on what drivers were included in different revisions of ESX is useful to know.
Many thanks for your input.
Bluemercury
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