Unable to passthrough USB on ESXi 5.1

Posted on 2013-05-13
Medium Priority
Last Modified: 2013-06-11
Hi everyone,

I'm having a problem with a VMware ESXi server. It's running vCenter Server 5.1 and I'm trying to enable USB passthrough by configuring advanced settings on the host to select the USB controller I want to enable for passthrough. Initially, I would tick a controller and click OK and it just wouldn't show in the list of devices configured for passthrough (as per the screenshot below) even after rebooting the host.

We discovered that this is apparently a bug in ESXi 5.1.
We found on a forum that the latest update (update_01 - build 1064983 – 25 April 2013) would supposedly fix the problem. I performed an update as opposed to an install (the install option appears to change settings) of the latest build which installed successfully. I must however add that the instructions say to put the server into maintenance mode when doing the update. I forgot to do this (though all the virtual machines were powered off) but it still updated properly. After seeing no change in behaviour I performed the update again in maintenance mode which also successfully updated. Now when adding the device it will show in the list of configured devices, but after the required host reboot it's gone again. I have this setup at another client running vCenter 5.0.0 with no problem.

Question by:StarrateIT
  • 6
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LVL 125
ID: 39163045

Author Comment

ID: 39163629
We need to backup 2.7TB's of data to the USB drive and the speed when using USB pass through as per your post is very, very bad.
I tried to backup using pass through using Veeam after a week it still had not completed, it is too slow to complete the backup.

Where we have managed to get Direct Path I/O working on our other sites we have seen a drastic speed increase. (5-6 times the speed, backups which were taking 14 hours dropped to 3 hours)
LVL 125
ID: 39163772
I would refer your issue to VMware, is the Server on the HCL and also listed for VM Direct I/O on the HCL as well.
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Author Comment

ID: 39163797
If we don't have a support contract with Vmware are we able to refer a bug to them.

HP Server ML350P Gen 8. Part Number : 646675-421
We have populated it with a second processor.

Please advise how we can check if this is supported, the HCL search engine never shows any results.
We have another system with the exact same HP hardware running ESXI 5.0 and it works perfectly.
So it is supported but there is some bug since 5.1 which is causing issues.
LVL 125
ID: 39163906
Without  a support contract it will be difficult to liaise with VMware Support.

You could certainly try and "blag" a call, and see if they will entertain you.

Yes, you server is on the HCL.

Another course of action is to follow up through HP!
LVL 10

Expert Comment

ID: 39164489
This is a longshot, but I thought the DirectPath was only for PCI devices, so unless the USB port is on a PCI bridge, it's not going to see it/work.  Can you try a card based, instead of Motherboard connected USB port?
LVL 125

Accepted Solution

Andrew Hancock (VMware vExpert / EE MVE^2) earned 1500 total points
ID: 39199720

Author Comment

ID: 39200267
We are unable to add the PCI device, it untick's itself after each reboot. It is a bug in ESXi 5.1 which VMware have not resolved!

It is ridiculous as we are running a backup now using the normal add the USB controller and device to the VM and it has been running for 5 days and is not even half way yet. Looks like it will take 12 days to complete the backup because the USB access is so slow.

We are backing up 2.8 TB.

On our older installations of Vcentre and ESXi 5.0 where we can do direct Device pass through we get almost 10 x the USB speeds of this.
Starting to lean towards Windows Hyper-v on Server 2012 with built-in hyper visor backup tools and easy hardware support.
Vmware has lost lots of favor for my smaller server installations!

Do any of the experts have a support contract with VMware where they could possibly log a support case for us and keep us posted on the projected time for them to fix the bug?
LVL 125
ID: 39200395
If it's been identified as a Bug, VMware will schedule a fix time.

Personally we would not recommend the use of USB for backups, and would use a product like Veeam Backup and Replication, to backup via the network, to a network device, Windows Share of NFS mount.

We do have Support Contracts with Microsoft, Citrix and VMware for our clients.

Author Comment

ID: 39212448
We are using Veeam, for some reason I cannot get the Veeam backup to successfully backup the 4TB spanned windows partition across two vmdk (1.9TB) virtual drives to backup to the NAS drive, it always fails at around 1.8-1.9 TB's.
Veeam are suggesting it is the NAS drive but I can backup the system disk and the exchange disk which are 200gb to the NAS and can do a manual copy of the 3TB files the NAS drive.

I want to do a Veeam backup to the USB drives to test Veeam, I have left one running for the last 7 days as the USB is so slow and it has eventually also failed. :(
So I will revert to Veeam again but I am not sure if it is just too slow over USB for this to prove that it is not the NAS.

Do we have any ideas how long it will take VMware to resolve this problem?
LVL 125
ID: 39212515
As for the fix, it depends on how many customers are suffering with this issue, as for the fix priority. It could be regarded as low.

Author Closing Comment

ID: 39238600
Thanks for your help everyone. After more sweating and digging it looks like we're not gonna have much luck with this one.
It look like it's not currently supported.

Thanks for all your help.

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