Yes! Sandy Bridge free ESXi Hypervisor with VT-d is a go!

Everything’s working great so far with a few exceptions I can live with. I have 5 VM’s running, mostly lightweight stuff, including my security camera system. For that I’m using Win XP and feeding the PV-149 CCTV capture card through via VT-d. Video streaming from BlueIris is working just fine and I also have PIAF running all of the phones, PFSense as a server on a stick running DHCP and DNS forwarding and the VMWare mobile appliance so I can watch it on my iPad.

I’ve started to install SageTV but it’s not done yet. So far everything’s got plenty of pep. No quality problems with PIAF so far either.

Speaking of PIAF, the years old post about SIP trunking between Asterisk and a Cisco 1760 that has gotten so much attention, yeah, that’s old school now! I just converted to a Linksys SPA3102 for my PSTN connectivity and it’s working perfectly. I think it might forward calls through a little more quickly too. The 1760 developed a bad fan and I couldn’t see spending money on it. I’ll probably try to ebay it.

Finally, I’m thinking about passing through the USB bus for SageTV to take advantage of the improved throughput but I believe I’ll need to be careful not to allocate the same bus that has the keyboard (KVM) on it. More later…

ESXi Hypervisor with VT-d on Sandy Bridge working?

I’ve just started my quest to get this working. It’s been difficult finding examples of success from others but I finally found a reference to a specific motherboard and CPU combo that has worked for others.

I’m using an Intel DQ67SWB3 motherboard with an i5-2400 CPU. Of course I had to get a separate Intel NIC since the onboard isn’t supported.

My plan is to use this for a number of servers including my CCTV security camera system. This is using a PV-149 PCI video capture card which would have to be passed through via VT-d for the VM Guest to see it. I’ve successfully installed ESXi 4.1 update 1 via a USB key and I’m in the process of adding some VM’s. A couple of issues have come up. First, I don’t have performance stats updating in vSphere client. I’m not sure if this is a driver issue with the “unsupported” motherboard or if it’s a problem with the ESXi install. I can see the overall utilization on the summary pages though so it’s not like I’m blind. Also, I’m able to add devices via VT-d but it’s not clear to me yet if I can pass-through multiple devices to a single Guest.

I’m installing XP in a Guest right now and as soon as that’s done patching (lot’s of patches) I’ll be working on getting that capture card visible.

I also plan on running PIAF (Asterisk) and SageTV in other VMs. I’m probably going to need a really basic DNS server as well. At some point I might try passing through the onboard NIC to a firewall VM, perhaps PFSense or Untangle. Not sure about that yet.