The much anticipated support for running vSphere on the latest generation of the Apple Apple Mac Pro 6,1 (black) is finally here with the release of ESXi 5.5 Update 2 Patch03. Due to unforeseen issues, it has taken a bit longer than expected to get the Apple Mac Pro certified, but VMware Engineering has been working hard to get all the bugs fixed and triaged with Apple and you can now run the latest release of vSphere on the Apple Mac Pro 4-core, 6-core, 8-core & 12-core configuration. I also would like to point out that when the next release of vSphere (.NEXT) is available, the Apple Mac Pro will also be certified and supported.
UPDATE (10/31) - Take a look at this blog post here for detailed instructions on installing ESXi 5.5 Update 2 Patch03 on the Mac Pro 6,1.
You can find the ESXi 5.5 Update 2 Patch03 (ESXi550-201410001) download here using Image Builder to author and ISO image which is equired to install ESXi on the new Mac Pro.
The VMware HCL has also been updated to reflect this new update:
Note: The VMware HCL currently lists 5.5 U2 as the supported release, but you will specifically need ESXi 5.5 Update 2 Patch03 for this new hardware support. I am hoping to get this further clarified on the HCL.
Here is a screenshot of the latest ESXi 5.5 Update 2 Patch03 running on an Apple Mac Pro 8-Core system courtesy from VMware Engineering:
Is there any sort of passthrough possible for the video card ?
It would make an interesting windows/osx/linux workstation.
William Lam says
I just reached out to PM/Engineering and it turns out passthrough is not supported on this platform. I know it also does not work on the Mac Mini
Without passthru, how can you justify the expensive video cards for an ESXi host?
if they offered a single card version or enable pass thru id probably buy three of them and attempt to get a thunderbolt vsan setup working. I don't mind the video cards if they were usable with passthrough, I could build a mac virtual workstation for testing future release of OSX without risk to my current iMac. To me this is the ultimate home lab host, upgradable ram, CPU, storage. It's compact, energy efficient and future proof with 6 thunderbolt ports.
Did PM/Engineering state a reason why it wouldn't work?
Andreas Yankopolus says
Any idea if this is a VMware issue or a problem with the underlying hardware?
William Lam says
From my understanding, this has to do with both actually. Since Apple's Hardware details are not open to the public, there's part of the system we don't entirely understand to be able to properly support pass-through. Unless they engage with us, this is probably something we would not be able to support.
Andreas Yankopolus says
That's good to know regarding Apple's level of documentation and cooperation. I'll stick with other hardware for type-1 hypervisors.
Unless I'm mistaken, "not supported" does not mean "not working". As soon as the device is seen as a discrete PCI device one can try to pass it through. I would be very interested in reading about failure/success of actual testing of GPU passthrough on the black mac pro.
Passing through of a GPU and USB ports (with keyboard/mouse/...) is a very nice way to run a powerful VM 🙂
Great blog by the way.
Is there a nvidia driver/vib that can be use on esxi to use the video chips of the macpro some way ? like Nvidia grid ?
I believe Nvidia provides the ESXi VIB for that, you would need to double check with them or look on their site
What are the iSCSI SAN options here if you would like to use the two built-in 1 Gbit for front-end network and two thunderbolts for iSCSI SAN.
Would the thunderbolt to ethernet converter you mention here work: http://www.virtuallyghetto.com/2013/09/running-esxi-55-on-apple-mac-mini.html . Is it the same broadcom driver? That would give you an option for redundant SAN of 2x1 Gbit.
Any idea if something like the "SANLink2 - 10GBase-T" would work for 10Gbit ISCSI?
Regarding iSCSI SAN options, check out the various community stories from customers who are running VMware/Apple Hardware in Production and some have shared their setup and configurations http://www.virtuallyghetto.com/2014/07/community-stories-of-vmware-apple-os-x-in-production-part-1.html
I'm not sure about the Thunderbolt Adapter, but if it's similar to the Mac Mini, the most ESXi release has latest Broadcom driver which should make it recognizable
Do you know if SANLink2 from promise works i cant find any information about it ?
Is the Thunderbolt interface recognized ? I am thinking the following way:
If esxi sees the thunderbolt bridge I can attach ANY VMWare compatible PCIExpress card to it no matter if its MACOSX certified, since it only matters whats ESXi sees.
If not i must consider a networks solution, promise again aoffers DUAL 10gb which is nice but unkown if it works.
This would open a universe of a whole lot cheaper hardware solutions from e.g. HP..
I am trying to build a SAN System where the VM reside with a pool of 2 mac pro and one offsite to recover with veeam. It is s very hard to find information about compatibility. For the san any standard fibre channel switch should do.
Pete Franco says
The link from the article sent me to a page that only goes up to patch 02 and a bug fix released on 10/15/2014. Any chance the patch was moved or removed?
William Lam says
The link should take you to VMware Patches site, then you'll need to filter on ESXi 5.5 and the latest one ESXi550-201410001 is Patch03. The post date might show 10/15 (probably when it's uploaded) but it was released on 10/16
Pete Franco says
Great, thank you.
I tried creating an updated .iso with Image Builder but my installer hangs at "Relocating modules and starting up the kernel..." so I'm sure I did something wrong.
I used this as my guide: http://blogs.vmware.com/kb/2014/05/using-vsphere-esxi-image-builder-create-installable-iso-vulnerable-heartbleed.html
Would anyone care to share the steps they took to get a working installer?
Looks like my mistake was exporting the 'security updates only' version. After re-creating the iso using ESXi-5.5.0-20141004001-standard the install is going much better.
mac pro 6.1 quad core has as default a small PCIe storage (es. 256 Gb); Is It possible use an external USB storage repository for esxi (as lab test unit) ?
William Lam says
USB storage is not supported w/ESXi, this is regardless if it's is Mac Pro or other hardware. You can use USB to install ESXi, but not for storage. One option is to pass-through the USB device up to a VM and then serve that back out as storage for other VMs if needed
thanks, you are right ... inside PCIe unit (256Gb or 512Gb or 1024Gb) are usable as repository storage with ESXi ?
And if It's usable for ESXI filesystem, It will no more usable for OSX and bootcamp, right ?
My idea It's to use use inside PCIe unit for OSX and Win bootcamp, and I'd use a key usb for bootstrap ESXi, but as repository storare what I can use ?.
That's correct, if you want to use the PCIe devices for ESXi for storage Virtual Machines, you'll need to format it to VMware's Filesystem which is called VMFS, which means it wouldn't be available for OSX if you plan on dual booting. I'm not sure I understand why you would want to run OSX and Windows bootcamp? when you can easily run those as Virtual Machines on top of ESXi?
I have some of my corporate clients with esxi on HP servers, and as my lab tests now I use a very good Mac Pro 3.1 early 2008 8 core, and I use this Mac Pro 90% of the time as a real host with OSX 10.9.5 (I I need to use it as real hardware, using it as host + server app).
Sometimes I need also to use it as esxi lab tests and so I'm using an USB key as a bootstrap and a SATA internal hard drive as storage repository.
Now I have decided to sell my Mac Pro 2008 3.1, and buy a Mac Pro 2013 6.1 and I am interested to continue to use OSX 10.9.5 (or 10.10.x) as a real host (host + server app in real mode) and sometimes as esxi lab tests (when I need to test something).
The problem now is, how can I use a storage repository that is not the own PCIe internal storage? any idea to solve my little problem ?
thanks a lot for the help
my idea was to use an usb storage but you are right It's not usable in esxi, (same for firewire with thunderbolt adapter to firewire, right ?), internal the Mac pro It's not possibile to add an other PCIe storage (right ?), so any solution using an external storage thunderbolt or something solution using an external ethernet device ? (I have no idea)
A iscsi device will work for sure with 1gb since hte mac pro has 2 network ports, in theory since people got the 30$ adapter to work and the mac pro has 4 thunderbolt ports you should be able to get more bandwidth out of it with multipathing
your solution is very good.
I migrated server systems in the new mac pro these days.
I will try the solution via iscsi, with a free iscsi distro.
I don't suppose anyone would mind sharing there ESXi5.5U2-Patch03 ISO? I've tried creating it with both ESXi Customizer and PowerCLI and both hang at “Relocating modules and starting up the kernel...". I am using the standard patch 03 update, not the security one, so not sure whats causing it to hang.
So I did finally get past the above error...now i'm running into getting stuck at "initializing ACPI..."
Anybody have any ideas?
I managed to resolve my issue, shared details here: https://communities.vmware.com/message/2443046#2443046
Basically you need Boot ROM MP61.0116.B05 or higher for ESXi to install. Install Yosemite upgrade first and it includes an upgrade (only available with the Yosemite upgrade) to MP61.0116.B07. Everything worked beautifully after that.
I have created the ISO and can boot into the ESXi installation, however, my USB keyboard and Mouse are not responding... hence, I cannot proceed with the installation.
Anyone, have any ideas?
I have the similar problem, monitor (vga->usb is working) but mouse and keyboard is not working.
This may not be your issue, but please test using the USB extender that comes with the Apple USB keyboard. Without it, the keyboard will only work randomly (from my experience). It's an Apple thing, nothing to do with VMware.
SO, I built a custom ISO following instructions above, but when I boot my MacPro from USB I get to the install screen but it accepts no keyboard input. I have tried both a PC USB and an older Mac USB keyboard with no luck.
and I did try the keyboard extension idea suggested earlier with no success
I'm not sure what the point of the mac pro is when it comes to ESXi. Under Apple's licensing agreement, you can only run two OS X vms on each physical Apple machine.
Joshua Roskos says
I'm by no means a lawyer and this is totally at the discretion of your legal department, but that section in Apple's EULA that states only 2 vm's per physical machine in under the Mac App Store section and is intended for use with Parallels, Fusion, etc. I'd take a look at the section below that for volume licensing...
how can we set thunderbolt ports to set 1 monitors to 1 VM so we can use 2 monitors ?
My goal is to have 2 VMs in mac pro with 1 monitor, 1 keyboard + 1 usb for each VM.
Today, I tried JUA210 - USB 2.0 VGA Display Adapter and set the usb in the Vsphere client, and it worked. VGA-USB is a little bit slow.
Now, VMs doesnt see my keyboards, mouse or thunderbolt connected display.
Dale Josephson says
Has anyone gotten a Thunderbolt hard drive to show up and work? How about 2 or 3 Thunderbolt drives?
Mac pro runs ESXi 5.5U2 with Patch 3 from USB key fine but wont see any external drives just the 1TB internal
Tried Buffalo, Drobo mini, and akitio external thunderbolt drives none show up
same here mac pro running great but i can't get it to see any thunderbolt drives. Does anyone have any idea on how to get the esxi to see any thunderbolt drives?
Patrick Long says
Wiliam - your site is the single greatest resource for ESXi on MacPro - thank you for all that you do. I ran into an issue lately with my MacPro running 5.5 latest build 2638301. I use both onboard NICs and two Thunderbolt >GB eth dongles, all four of which appear as BCM57762 GB adapters in ESXi, claimed by the tg3 driver. I noticed that the tg3 driver was net-tg3 3.123c.v55.5-1vmw.5126.96.36.1998190 VMware VMwareCertified 2014-11-14 which has known issues per KB2072515. Wanting to avoid this, I (perhaps foolhardily) updated to the latest driver from VMware support site, net-tg3_3.137h.v55.1-1OEM.5188.8.131.521820 and rebooted. BOOM! All four NICs were no longer detected. I used Recovery mode to boot the alt bootbank and recover, but what do you suppose may have happened in this process? How can I update to a newer version of the tg3 driver, and what version should I use? The HCL does not even list the DID/VID 14e4:1682 for these NICs, which I would think it would since the MacPro 6,1 is supported and these are the onboard NICs...
~ # vmkchdev -l |grep vmnic0
0000:0b:00.0 14e4:1682 14e4:1682 vmkernel vmnic0
~ # vmkchdev -l |grep vmnic1
0000:0c:00.0 14e4:1682 14e4:1682 vmkernel vmnic1
~ # vmkchdev -l |grep vmnic2
0000:60:00.0 14e4:1682 106b:00f6 vmkernel vmnic2
~ # vmkchdev -l |grep vmnic3
0000:a7:00.0 14e4:1682 106b:00f6 vmkernel vmnic3
Patrick Long says
I resolved this by installing Wiliam's vghetto-apple-thunderbolder-ethernet.vib from the post here > http://www.virtuallyghetto.com/2013/09/running-esxi-55-on-apple-mac-mini.html. Although that post specifies the vib as a fix for the Thunderbolt adapter, it is in fact allows the onboard NICs to use the updated Broadcom-provided driver as well, since they show up with the same DID/VID as the Thunderbolt adapter. The root cause is that the updated driver provided by Broadcom tg3-3.137h.v55.1-offline_bundle-2460118.zip does not include the device ID (14e4:1682) assigned to the onboard NICs or the Thunderbolt NIC adapters in the tg3 (Broadcom) map file /etc/vmware/driver.map.d/tg3.map. Installing the vghetto-apple-thunderbolder-ethernet.vib resolves this as detailed in William's post linked above.
I am confused about Apple's EULA. I want to use ESXi 5.5 (or higher) with about 10 Mac Pros (2013, Black) to host roughly 200 macOS 10.11 (higher) VMs. Is that legally possible, or I am stuck running only 2 VMs per host?
I can tell you that it is technically possible, and I can help you out with that I bought 3 and connected them to a HP MS2040 with a Sonnet Rack interface and an Attos Celerity fibre chan. What I dont think is that you can get 200 out of it. Depends on what you run on but you cant run 20 machines on 12 cores even if its virtual cores which makes em 24 ( in theory )All the best,