Dell Silicom PEG6I – VMWare ESXi 5.0 vSphere VT-d IOMMU Passthrough of the 6x Gigabit (GigE) Intel 82571EB Network Adapter
After the initial review of the Dell/ Silicom PEG6I six port Gigabit Ethernet adapter came up, where I showed that a simple search could yield six Intel Gigabit Ethernet ports on one card for under $125 (see here for the PEG6I eBay search), I turned to look at the PEG6I’s VMware ESXi 5.0 compatibility which was good. I did want to take the opportunity to show how VMware ESXi 5.0 VMDirectPath pass-through works on this multi- gigabit Ethernet port card. The behavior of this is that the Dell/ Silicom PEG6I can be passed through in pairs of ports as can be seen below:
As one can see I am actually using an Opteron 6128 platform here hence the ATI Technologies Inc RD890 root seen in VMware ESXi 5.0. The Dell/ Silicom PEG6I has the 42:00.0 and 43:0x:0x roots in the above picture. That ESXi 5.0 warning message shows that selecting one network interface, (e.g. the 44:00.o network interface) for ESXi 5.0 pass-through also requires a dependent device to be passed (e.g. the 44:00.1 network interface.) This behavior is the same with Intel’s VT-d as well as ATI’s IOMMU with VMware ESXi 5.0 VMDirectPath. Bottom line is that one can only pass pairs of NICs through, which is not an uncommon feature. This is means for the for the approximately $125 (see here for the PEG6I eBay search) street price, one can pass through pairs of NICs to three different VMware virtual machines. It is also a reason that using Intel 82574L Ethernet controllers on motherboards is very popular because one can pass each 82574L independently through to VMs.