I recently posted about the Dell/ Silicom PEG6I six port Gigabit Ethernet adapter which I was able to get very inexpensively. One note I had was that I had yet to test it on ESXi 5.0 and I received a lot of e-mail on the subject. Unfortunately, I am in the process of clearing out a lot of old gear that I simply do not have room for and decided to build a new ESXi 5.0 test bed. Once that started working, I managed to find a free PCIe x8 electrical slot in the new server (dual Opteron 6128 platform for those wondering.) When I rebooted I found this:
It worked perfectly! Admittedly, I was a bit skeptical as I could not find the card on the official VMWare hardware compatibility list (HCL). With that being said, it looks like the Intel 82571EB controllers had no issues with being recognized and working out of the box. Personally, I am not a huge fan of having to add drivers to ESXi so I do prefer things that are plug and play like this with ESXi 5.0.
Also, I have noted that the eBay stock (see here for the PEG6I eBay search ) of the cards has been wavering. The initial piece seems to have sold the lowest price seller out of hardware but that seller listed additional units. Best thing I can say, if you want this card, is to keep searching for it. If you can get these inexpensively, they seem to be a much better value than the mainstay Intel Pro/1000 PT Quads (see here for the Pro/1000 PT Quad eBay search), although one will need to have a chassis that can accept full height cards.