Mac Mini as ESXi host.

Discussion in 'Windows, Linux & Others on the Mac' started by Johbremat, Mar 22, 2015.

  1. Johbremat macrumors regular

    Feb 8, 2011
    Who's doing it?

    Got a stack of 2012s on the way. Going to start setting up some infrastructure to develop my system administration, virtualisation and networking skills.

    Either OOTB with ESXi 6.0 or with a custom ViB using 5.5U2, there's support for TB>Eth adapter, thus allowing you to have dual NICs (for load balancing traffic, versus redundancy).

    I'm curious to know whether the support is for the TB chipset itself or simply the adapter. Wonder if attaching a dock presents all the ports to VMs hosted on the ESXi instance.

    Is anyone running an ESXi host? Do you have a TB dock you can test with?
  2. icarus523 macrumors newbie

    Aug 20, 2009
    This may not be a complete response to your question but I run ESXi 5.5 on a 2008 Mac Pro (2.8GHz, 32GB RAM). But I had problems finding details with hardware passthrough (VT-d) with a Mac Pro 3,1 model. So if there is anyone in the same boat - I hope the following helps:

    I can passthrough an ATI 2600XT HD or AMD 6450HD (Note: Only AMD cards work - NVIDIA cards doesn't work with ESXi 5.5) to any supported virtual machines and provide video acceleration. I can also passthrough a USB3 4-port PCIe (which has a separate controller for each port, that can be assigned to four different VMs: HighPoint RocketU 1144C).

    Issue is that only Slot 1, and 2 is capable of being passthrough with this Mac Pro. I tried 3 and 4, with video cards and the USB card and they won't persist after reboots of the ESXi host.

    When you boot your Mac Pro, the console will default to use the Slot 1 video card, when you assign a VM to use the same card, the console output will stop when the VM starts, and you can use the Slot 1 card in a VM with no issues.

    ESXi 6.0 no longer lists my Mac Pro as supported, last time I checked, but it does detail support for NVidia cards - but I haven't been able to test whether this works.
  3. DustinT macrumors 68000


    Feb 26, 2011
    I'm running 6.0 on a 2011 MM and it works fine. I've had once purple screen in the first month of use, but considering that I was able to shutdown a couple of large, power hungry Dell servers, I'm quite happy with the results.

    Installing 6.0 was a piece of cake. I just burned the CD and connected a USB Superdrive. After that it was next, next, next, finish.
  4. DustinT macrumors 68000


    Feb 26, 2011
    Side question, where did you get the best pricing on a stack of 2012s? I would love to get a couple more nodes and start playing with VSAN some. ;)

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3 March 22, 2015