For customers who had SATA controllers that consumed the VMware Advanced Host Controller Interface (AHCI) driver found that after upgrading to ESXi 6.5, the disk performance for those devices were significantly impacted. Basic operations such as cloning or uploading an OVF/OVA would literally double if not triple in time. In fact, I too had observed this same behavior when I had upgraded my Intel NUC (not an officially supported platform) to ESXi 6.5. One thing I had noticed at the time when others were reporting simliar issues was that their HW platforms were also not on the VMware HCL, so I was not sure if this was limited to only home-lab environments?
In any case, I and others eventually stumbled onto this blog article by Sebastian Foss who I believe may have been the first to identify a workaround which was to simply disable the new AHCI Native Driver which loads by default and forcing it fall back to using the legacy AHCI driver which made the issue go away after a reboot. Although the folks who had reported seeing simliar issue were all using hardware platforms that were not officially on the VMware HCL, I decided to still file an internal bug and hoped someone could take a look to see what was going on.
With the release of ESXi 6.5 Update 1, I am happy to report the observed performance issues with the Native AHCI driver have now been resolved! I have been running on earlier release of ESXi 6.5 Update 1 build for couple of weeks now and have not seen any of the problems I had before. For those interested, the official fix went is in version 1.0.0-37vmw or greater of the vmw_ahci driver.
You can easily verify for this by running the following ESXCLI command to retrieve the version of your vmw_ahci driver:
If you had disabled the Native AHCI driver, you will definitely want to re-enable it. You can check if its been disabled by running the following ESXCLI command and checking the second column to see if it shows "false":
esxcli system module list | grep vmw_ahci
If the Native AHCI driver is disabled as shown in the previous command, then you can re-enable it by running the following ESXCLI command:
esxcli system module set --enabled=true --module=vmw_ahci
Once you have re-enabled the driver, you will need to reboot for the changes to go into effect.