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 VMDirectPath on i3210 
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Joined: Wed Oct 21, 2009 12:29 pm
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Post VMDirectPath on i3210
Is VMDirectPath supported on Intel S3210SHLC (or S3210SHLX) motherboard?


Fri Oct 23, 2009 3:08 pm
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Post Re: VMDirectPath on i3210
The 3200/3210 chipset that the MB is based on does have VT-d technology, but (and it's a big but) Intel will have to enabled the option in the BIOS. If there's no BIOS option then you won't be able to use directed I/O.

I would suggest checking the BIOS manual or as you've done contact someone with the board. Are you looking to get a new system?

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Fri Oct 23, 2009 8:16 pm
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Joined: Wed Oct 21, 2009 12:29 pm
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Post Re: VMDirectPath on i3210
Yep, I'm going to build something like this:
Intel S3210SHLC
Intel Core 2 Quad Q9550
4x2Gb Kingston KVR800D2E5
4x1Tb Western Digital WD10EADS

It will be a fileserver and a webserver on ESXi4.
And some testing environment with Linux, Windows guests.

I need VMDirectPath to use pci cards like usb in windows guest os.

There is a solution like USB over Ethernet, but I think direct attach is better.


Sat Oct 24, 2009 2:05 am
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Post Re: VMDirectPath on i3210
I'd definitely check the manual to see if VT-d is listed as an option. I would also look for something that give you good control over IRQ assignment. If two devices share the same IRQ then you won't be able to use them in two different VMs at the same time.

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Sun Oct 25, 2009 10:14 pm
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Joined: Wed Oct 21, 2009 12:29 pm
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Post Re: VMDirectPath on i3210
Now I can answer my question =)

My system is:
Intel S3210SHLC
Intel Core 2 Quad Q9550
4x2Gb Kingston KVR800D2E5
3x1Tb Western Digital WD10EADS for raw mapping to VM
1x500Gb Samsung for VMFS

There is no support for VMDirectPath with old BIOS. Buf after I updated to the latest version (48) appeared a VT-d option in CPU BIOS setup.
With the latest BIOS this motherboard support VMDirectPath.

But you can't share single PCI device, because PCI is a bus and if you enable single device the system shares the whole bus with the integrated Ethernet controller.
You can easily share single PCI-e devices.

Latest ESXi 4 works on this setup out-of-the-box.


Sat Oct 31, 2009 11:40 pm
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Post Re: VMDirectPath on i3210
I'm glad to hear that you've had some success with the MB. Have you tried any specific devices?

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Sun Nov 01, 2009 1:24 am
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Post Re: VMDirectPath on i3210
I have PCI Gembird UPC-20-6P USB2.0 controller.
I enabled passthrough on pci bus and attached an APC SmartUPS to the USB port. Now a Linux UPS VM with acupsd monitors UPS status over USB.

As I mentioned one of the onboard ethernet controllers is now gone, because I can't dedicate it to any VM.


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Wed Nov 04, 2009 4:41 am
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Joined: Fri Sep 25, 2009 5:08 am
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Post Re: VMDirectPath on i3210
smdmitry wrote:
But you can't share single PCI device, because PCI is a bus and if you enable single device the system shares the whole bus with the integrated Ethernet controller.
You can easily share single PCI-e devices.


Is this specific to this motherboard or all VMDirectPath supporting motherboards?


Fri Nov 27, 2009 12:51 am
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Post Re: VMDirectPath on i3210
It'll depend on part on the PCI device.

1) If it supports FLR (Function Level Reset) then you could have multiple FLR devices on the same bus assigned to different devices and ESXi would be able to reset them individually.
2) If the devices supporte PCI Function Power Management States, then you can reset individual devices again. That's referred to as D0 to D3 transactions (D3 represents the state of the devices being off (having no pwore) and D0 represents the device being fully powered on and ready for use).

Otherwise ESX(i) will use link and / or bus resets to reset the devices and that's when you get into problems with shared devices.

If you think a device can handle D3D0 or FLR, then you would add it to /etc/vmware/passthru.map.

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Fri Nov 27, 2009 1:44 am
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Post Re: VMDirectPath on i3210
Did you have to do anything in particular to give a virtual machine direct access to your 3x1TB drives or was it fairly straight forward? I've heard it requires some configuration via SSH to allow ESXi access to SATA HDs.

Something else which I've read is ESXi on the S3210SHLC only sees two of the onboard SATA ports. Do you know if this is true?


Fri Feb 19, 2010 1:03 pm
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