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ESXi Arm Edition

version 1.8 — December 17, 2021

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Summary

Hello ESXi-Arm Fling participants!

Over the past several years, you've seen us demonstrate our virtualization technology on the Arm platform across several use cases, everything from running mission critical workloads on a windmill, to running on the SmartNIC, to running on AWS Graviton in the cloud. We realized that the resilient platform created for the datacenter can be equally valuable in non-traditional environments. We've learned a lot from exploratory discussions with customers and Arm Silicon Partners.

Now we'd like to give our customers a chance to evaluate this technology in their own environments. This evaluation program is for the enterprise architects who are considering the viability of virtualizing Arm workloads, for the test/dev team looking for a way to spin up Arm environments, and for the tinkerers who simply want to explore running ESXi-Arm in a small form factor Edge environment. We're interested to understand what features you will find most valuable, and how you will want to deploy this technology.

To get started, head over to the Requirements tab for the list of recommended hardware to try out the bits and the installation instructions.

Requirements

Supported ESXi-Arm Hardware: Supported vCenter Server:
vCenter Server is not required but for customers who wish to use vCenter Server (x86) to manage ESXi-Arm host, this functionality is supported.
  • vCenter Server Appliance (VCSA) 7.0 or newer is needed to manage an ESXi-Arm host
  • vCenter Server Appliance (VCSA) 7.0c or 7.0d is required to enable vSphere HA and vSphere FT on an ESXi-Arm host. Please see ESXi-Arm documentation for more detailed instructions
  • vCenter Server Appliance (VCSA) 7.0 Update 1 or newer can be used BUT vSphere DRS will not function (Following workaround should be applied). If you need vSphere DRS, please use VCSA 7.0c or 7.0d
Download access:
Note: Note: During registration, it's important all request information are filled in, including valid first last name and address information including the country. This information is required as part of our export compliance procedures. Incomplete information will result in access delays and error message asking to provide valid information such as your first, last name, address and country.
Documentation:
  • Overall ESXi-Arm documentation + Hardware specific installation PDF guides can be download on the ESXi-Arm Fling download page (select drop down)
Additional Information:
  • A reminder that the distributed ESXi-Arm bits under the VMware Fling program is not officially supported. Do not deploy this technical preview in any production capacity.
  • The distributed ESXi-Arm bits match the vSphere 7.0 release. Everything not explicitly documented as working should be assumed otherwise. Please check the documentation here and the official VMware ARM blog.
  • Periodically we will publish updated bits to enable new features or fix bugs. While we hope to provide these in a timely manner, please note that our existing product responsibility to customers takes precedent over the fling. Our responses to bug fixes or forum comments may be delayed.
  • After installation, ESXi-Arm can be managed as a standalone host through the ESXi Host client or it can be managed by vCenter Server (running on x86). Please follow the ESXi on Arm Fling with vCenter tutorial and note the various restrictions and limitations. Do not use a production vCenter instance to manage your ESXi-Arm instance.
  • The ESXi-Arm bits will expire 180 days after installation. You will need to reinstall the bits to reset the clock.
  • While ESXi-Arm supports many Arm ServerReady-like systems, ESXi-Arm Fling "officially" supports only a few chosen platforms. Please check the documentation here. Best-effort tutorials for some other systems may be published over at the official VMware ARM blog.
  • If you will be installing the ESXi-Arm on the Raspberry Pi 4B, we HIGHLY recommend the 8GB version. While 4GB is sufficient to boot, there's not much room left to run a VM. Swing for the 8GB if you can.
Contact Us:

Video

Changelog

December 17, 2021 - v1.8

Note: Upgrade is NOT possible, only fresh installation is supported. If you select "Preserve VMFS" option, you can re-register your existing Virtual Machines.
  • ACPI fix to support OpenBSD guests
  • Improved handling of ITS device ID width in implementations without indirect table support
  • Improvements to VMkernel TLB handling
  • Improvements to NUMA handling (Especially around error reporting)

      Build 19076756
      VMware-VMvisor-Installer-7.0.0-19076756.aarch64.iso

December 7, 2021 - v1.7

Note: Upgrade is NOT possible, only fresh installation is supported. If you select "Preserve VMFS" option, you can re-register your existing Virtual Machines.
  • Experimental support for Pine64 Quartz64 board
  • Support for VMware SVGA driver (compatible with Fusion on AS, e,g, fixes Fedora F35 black screen issue)
  • NUMA-aware VMM, improving performance for dual-socket Ampere Altra machines
  • Improved compatibility for systems without an IORT
  • Fix performance issues in newer Linux kernel guest OSes like Debian 10 and Photon 4
  • Recognise CA55
  • Improve TLBI handling in VMM/VMK
  • Improve contention for atomic ops

      Build 19025766
      VMware-VMvisor-Installer-7.0.0-19025766.aarch64.iso

October 6, 2021 - v1.6

Note: This release does not contain a new ESXi-Arm build, it is to announce new hardware enablement. The previous ESXi-Arm build can be used with the mentioned hardware platforms below. For more information, please download the hardware specific PDF guides.
  • Experimental Support for Ampere Altra-based BM.Standard.A1.160 shapes from Oracle Cloud Infrastructure
  • Experimental Support for Marvell Armada A8040 / Octeon TX2 CN9132 chipsets
  • Experimental Support for Socionext SynQuacer Developerbox

August 6, 2021 - v1.5

Note: Upgrade is NOT possible, only fresh installation is supported. If you select "Preserve VMFS" option, you can re-register your existing Virtual Machines.
  • Minor VM performance improvement
  • Support BCM2848 ACPI ID for the USB OTG port (affects newer UEFI firmware versions)

      Build 18427252
      VMware-VMvisor-Installer-7.0.0-18427252.aarch64.iso

June 15, 2021 - v1.4

Note: Upgrade is NOT possible, only fresh installation is supported. If you select "Preserve VMFS" option, you can re-register your existing Virtual Machines.
  • Improved PMU virtualization
  • Fix virtual AHCI support for some ACPI OSes
  • Improve time virtualization
  • Experimental support for NVIDIA Tegra Xavier AGX and NVIDIA Tegra Xavier NX (PCIe, USB, NVMe, SATA)
  • Experimental support for 2P Ampere Altra-based servers (Mt. Jade)
  • Improved VM performance for multi-socket Arm servers
  • Fix virtual NVMe support in UEFI and some OSes
  • Improve interrupt controller virtualization
  • Improve virtualization performance
  • Improve compatibility with newer guest OS linux kernels
  • Improve USB stability issues, especially with RTL8153-based USB NICs (a common chipset) and especially on Raspberry Pi and Tegra Xavier
  • Updated documentation for ESXi-Arm Fling, Raspberry Pi, Ampere Altra, NVIDIA Xavier AGX & NVIDIA Xavier NX (See download for details)

      Build 18175197
      VMware-VMvisor-Installer-7.0.0-18175197.aarch64.iso

April 02, 2021 - v1.3

Note: Upgrade is NOT possible, only fresh installation is supported. If you select "Preserve VMFS" option, you can re-register your existing Virtual Machines.
  • Improved hardware compatibility (various bug fixes/enhancements)
  • Add support for Experimental Ampere Altra (single socket systems only) (please see Requirements for more details)
  • ACPI support for virtual machines
  • NVMe and PVSCSI boot support in vEFI
  • Workaround for ISO boot on some Arm servers
  • Address VMM crash with newer guest OSes and Neoverse N1-based systems
  • Improved guest interrupt controller virtualization
  • Improved (skeletal) PMU virtualization
  • Improved big endian VM support

      Build 17839012
      VMware-VMvisor-Installer-7.0.0-17839012.aarch64.iso

November 30, 2020 - v1.2

Note: Upgrade is NOT possible, only fresh installation is supported. If you select "Preserve VMFS" option, you can re-register your existing Virtual Machines.
  • UI: Disable datastore browsing when no datastores are present
  • PSCI: Fix missing context_id argument for CPU_ON calls
  • GICv2: Always enable SGIs, as GIC-500
  • arm64: Support for big-endian guests
  • Remove requirements/restrictions on initrd for UEFI-less VMs


      Build 17230755
      VMware-VMvisor-Installer-7.0.0-17230755.aarch64.iso

October 22, 2020 - v1.1
  • Fix for https://flings.vmware.com/esxi-arm-edition/bugs/1098 (PSOD adding to VDS)
  • Support for Arm N1 SDP platform
  • Support for VMs on Neoverse N1 CPU
  • Pass-thru stability improvements to LS1046A and LX2160A platforms
  • Fix for vCenter/DRS incorrect CPU usage
  • Fix for VM crash when VM storage fills up
  • Stability fix for non-coherent DMA device support
  • Installer: tolerate RAM size within 4% of 4GB instead of 3.125 (for the otherwise unsupported RK3399 boards)
  • Serial port handling improvements (for unsupported/unknown boards, to be a bit more resilient of firmware configuration errors)
  • Documentation Updates:
    • Moved and expanded iSCSI doc for Pi doc to main ESXi-Arm Fling doc
    • Added LS1046ARDB docs (including ref to it from main ESXi-Arm doc and Fling website)
    • Fixed Ampere server name and links (its HR330A/HR350A, not SR-something)
    • Added Arm N1SDP document (including ref to it from main ESXi-Arm doc)
    • Updated GuestOSes known to work with ESXi-Arm including new "Verified" section
    • Updated instruction to update EEPROM for Pi doc

      Build 17068872
      VMware-VMvisor-Installer-7.0.0-17068872.aarch64.iso

October 06, 2020 - v1.0 (Initial Release)

      Build 16966451
      VMware-VMvisor-Installer-7.0.0-16966451.aarch64.iso

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