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ESXI PCI SATA Controller Passthrough

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#1 InsaneNutter

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Posted 18 August 2013 - 11:45

I have an ESXI 5.1 server based on the Gigabyte GA-Z77N-WIFI motherboard. What i want to do is to combine this and my NAS, which currently consists of 5x 2TB drives formatted as NTFS, with the view of adding more drives in the future.

My plan is to add a HighPoint Rocket 2720SGL SATA controller to the free PCI Express slot in my ESXI server, then pass that through to a Windows based Virtual Machine.

From what I gather it shouldn't really matter if ESXI has drivers or not for the HighPoint Rocket 2720SGL. All i want to do is use it in a dedicated Windows Virtual Machine. So basically passthrough to the Windows VM, install the drivers in Windows, then windows will see any drives i add to the HighPoint Rocket 2720SGL.

 

The end result would be my Windows VM has native access to any drives connected to the HighPoint Rocket 2720SGL and ESXI can use any drives connected to the motherboards SATA ports for datastores, as its doing now.

Basically i'm just looking to confirm I can do what I think i can before purchasing the HighPoint Rocket 2720SGL. I'm not bothered about raid as i keep my own backups on separate external drives.




#2 +PeterUK

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Posted 18 August 2013 - 18:05

The Virtual Machine would have to support access to the card as if it had the card so for you to test if it can be done put any PCI-e card in to get the Virtual Machine to see it.



#3 n_K

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Posted 18 August 2013 - 18:17

Passthrough is sketchy at best, I've tried to passthrough an adaptec SCSI-320 controller and it just refused to work entirely on windows, it partially worked on linux. I also tried an NVIDIA Quadro GFX card and the VM didn't even boot, it was going weird, and then the whole server froze.

If it works, it probably works well, if it doesn't work, it'll screw your entire server.



#4 ThehAWKs

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Posted 18 August 2013 - 18:55

for passthrough to work your CPU must support VT-D check your CPU specs.



#5 JohnG86

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Posted 18 August 2013 - 18:55

ESXi Hardware pass-through is dependent on the CPU that your ESXi server is running and if the motherboard has support for it enabled.  For Intel CPUs it is named VT-D and here is the list: http://ark.intel.com...vanced?VTD=true.



#6 Klownicle

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Posted 18 August 2013 - 19:05

Yes this will work, I have done this myself.  As long as you plan on using the Rocket Raid as a eSata device, and not some soft raid.  As esx doesn't support software raid.  However, with this being said, I was able to get my 12tb array to be detected and install the drivers in the guest os (host doesn't need any) but my raid showed up as "uninitialized or unformated".  I wasn't going to wipe out all my data to see if it was "functional", so I'll never know for sure.  You may also want to try connecting your eSata connection directly to a built in motherboard port and use a physical rdm passthrough of the drive to the VM.  See the second part of; http://www.vm-help.c...i/SATA_RDMs.php for Physical RDM's  You can use a eSata Bracket to easily connect to the internal motherboard port.

 

As much as all this works in theory, I wasn't able to get my raid to work in the end.  But it could be my raid array just not working properly with this sort of thing.

 

And as others have stated, I would assume your already aware that vT-d is required by the processor, BUT it is also required by the motherboard.  IE; if you don't see a vt-d option in the bios, your screwed.  Luckily, some brands have updated bios that enable the support so check that out if needed.  Mine was a Gigabyte Z77 also and had updated bios.  And "k" series, intel processors, do not support VT-d :(



#7 +PeterUK

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Posted 18 August 2013 - 22:30

Intel make it even more confusing going by their ark lookup listing Q77 as having VT-d support but not Z77 and I really don't see why Intel would not list support for the Z77 since its the CPU that has the VT-d anyway.

http://ark.intel.com...are/64027,64024



#8 Klownicle

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Posted 19 August 2013 - 01:45

 

Intel make it even more confusing going by their ark lookup listing Q77 as having VT-d support but not Z77 and I really don't see why Intel would not list support for the Z77 since its the CPU that has the VT-d anyway.

http://ark.intel.com...are/64027,64024

 

 

The CPU has the goods, the motherboard has to be able to utilize those goods, and the Z77 does as I'm using it right now.



#9 OP InsaneNutter

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Posted 19 August 2013 - 20:59

Yup, I built my ESXI server aware that both the processor and motherboard had to support Vt-d. The processor is an i7 3770T which supports VT-d, the motherboard allow for it to be enabled.

 

The on-board Wi-Fi works when passed through to a VM, just seems to be hit and miss with sata / raid controllers from what i read sadly.

 

2sbx006.jpg

 

 

Yes this will work, I have done this myself.  As long as you plan on using the Rocket Raid as a eSata device, and not some soft raid.  As esx doesn't support software raid.  However, with this being said, I was able to get my 12tb array to be detected and install the drivers in the guest os (host doesn't need any) but my raid showed up as "uninitialized or unformated".  I wasn't going to wipe out all my data to see if it was "functional", so I'll never know for sure.  You may also want to try connecting your eSata connection directly to a built in motherboard port and use a physical rdm passthrough of the drive to the VM.  See the second part of; http://www.vm-help.c...i/SATA_RDMs.php for Physical RDM's  You can use a eSata Bracket to easily connect to the internal motherboard port.

 

As much as all this works in theory, I wasn't able to get my raid to work in the end.  But it could be my raid array just not working properly with this sort of thing.

 

And as others have stated, I would assume your already aware that vT-d is required by the processor, BUT it is also required by the motherboard.  IE; if you don't see a vt-d option in the bios, your screwed.  Luckily, some brands have updated bios that enable the support so check that out if needed.  Mine was a Gigabyte Z77 also and had updated bios.  And "k" series, intel processors, do not support VT-d  :(

 

I basically want to just use the Rocket Raid to connect hard drives and use each drive as an individual drive. I don't actually wish to use raid or anything.

 

So you were able to pass a Rocket Raid card through on your build, or was this a different card / build?

 

I'm guessing in theory it should, my worry is like n_K mentioned ESXi seems to be really fussy with what will work after it's passed though.



#10 +BudMan

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Posted 21 August 2013 - 11:53

"I basically want to just use the Rocket Raid to connect hard drives and use each drive as an individual drive."

You don't need passthru for that.. If the host sees the card and can see the disks, then you can just raw map the drives to the VM.

http://blog.davidwar...orage-for-esxi/
http://www.vm-help.c...i/SATA_RDMs.php
http://www.experts-e...ed-on-ESXi.html
Google for other guides/tutorials on how to do it

This is how I give access to the disks on N40L to my storage VM..

rawmaplun.png

#11 OP InsaneNutter

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Posted 21 October 2013 - 20:58

Just to confirm to anyone who find's this post in the future the HighPoint Rocket 2720SGL does indeed pass though perfectly to a VM with no trouble on my ESXi setup.

 

So far no problems what so ever, I will have a couple of 4TB drives to add later this week. All been well that is my storage needs sorted for the next couple of years!

 

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