VT-d Passthrough Verification: ASRock Z97 Extreme 6 + Intel Core i7 4790K

asrock-extreme6-and-intel-4790k

I have had the ASRock Z97 Extreme 6 + Intel Core i7 4790K combination in my workstation for a time and only briefly tried running ESXi 5.5 while testing some network and RAID drivers. Previously I have had great use for VT-d in my server, but since this combo was for my workstation I chose a CPU only based on performance. Now, many months later, I stumbled on the fact that this very CPU supports VT-d, in contrast to previous ‘K’ model CPU. Since VT-d is not widely used, I couldn’t find anyone else that has tested the VT-d support on this hardware, which is why I decided to find out if it does.

System specification

BIOS Setup of the ASRock Z97 Extreme 6

The settings for VT-x and VT-d are hidden under different menus in the UEFI BIOS. VT-x is found under CPU configuration as “Intel Virtualization Technology” and VT-d under Chipset configuration with the same name. VT-x was enabled by default but VT-d was disabled. Here is also a note showing VT-d support or not. As we can see in the image below, VT-d is supported with this CPU and motherboard. asrock_z97_extreme6_bios_vt-d

ESXi Installation

To get support for both of the onboard NICs, please see my other post regarding driver inclusion to an ESXi ISO.

I usually install ESXi on a USB thumbdrive to separate the ESXi installation from the datastore. This is made even more easy on some of ASRock’s motherboards since they have an onboard USB header. For this simple test, I decided to use a single SSD connected to the onboard SATA controller.

Once ESXi is installed the passthrough settings can be found under ConfigurationAdvanced Settings. For this test I chose to pass through the following devices:

  • Onboard Realtek NIC
  • Onboard ASMedia USB3 controller
  • LSI 9211-8i SAS HBA

VT-d verification

I began with just launching a VM with an Ubuntu 14.04 live ISO. As we can see with lspci, all devices were found correctly:ubuntu_lspci

I connected an external 500GB disk to the USB controller and a 3TB disk and they were both found. I actually had a USB mouse connected to the USB controller by chance, and it worked as well 🙂ubuntu_disk_by_pathubuntu_dmesg

Moving on to Windows and installing Windows 7 x64 SP1. After some driver installation all was working fine:windows7_device_managerwindows7_system_properties

Final words

Everything was working really well with this combination and it is a welcomed surprise to see Intel enable VT-d for the Devil’s Canyon CPUs. Only the Core i7-4790K was tested at this point but it should be pretty safe to assume that the Core i5-4690K will work as well.

Manage an LSI MegaRAID card in ESXi host remotely with MSM

Here is a quick post on how to remotely manage an LSI MegaRAID card in an ESXi host with MegaRAID Storage Manager, aka MSM.

Setup

  • ESXi 5.5 u2 host
  • LSI MegaRAID SAS 9261-8i (this guide will work on most 926x and 927x cards)
  • Windows 7 SP1 physical client

Required software

How to get it working

I have read multiple guides on doing this very simple thing. However, most of the tricks did not work or was not an issue for me. Here is what was needed for me to get it working with this setup.

  1. Make sure the LSI SMIS provider is working. Do you get health indications from the RAID card in vSphere? Installed software components. If not; stop here, install it and make sure it is working.
  2. Enable SSH on the host and connect to the host over SSH
  3. View the hosts file with cat /etc/hosts
  4. Copy the line with the IP address to the server, for example:
    172.17.1.1  hostname.domain hostname
  5. On the client Windows machine, edit the hosts file* and add a row for each hostname found in step 4, for example:
    172.17.1.1  hostname.domain
    172.17.1.1  hostname
  6. Start LSI MSM from the client. Change the search setting to ESXIMON servers, save, and then enter the IP of the local machine (not the host IP) in the search field.MegaRAID_storage_manager_host_configuration
  7. Hit search and the host should appear with the correct hostname and IP.MSM-search-results

(*) Right click on a link to Notepad (or a custom text editor) and choose Run as administrator. Select File – Open, and enter the following file name:

I hope this helps the RAID administration! Let me know if you succeed or not in the comments.