Today, I am very excited to announce a new Fling that I have been working on which is a Native Driver for ESXi that will enable support for three of the most popular USB network adapter chipsets found in the market today. The ASIX USB 2.0 gigabit network ASIX88178a, ASIX USB 3.0 gigabit network ASIX88179 & the Realtek USB 3.0 gigabit network RTL8153. This effort had initially started back in 2016 as a side project with Songtao, a VMware Engineer who works on our USB stack for ESXi. Based on the enormous amount of feedback from the community as well customer Production use cases, this side project evolved into the development of a full fledge Native Driver for ESXi.
This Fling is more than just adding additional network interfaces for vSphere Home Labs, which is definitely a use case, but it is also about enabling new and future computing platforms that may not always have the traditional network connectivity that we have come to expect. Today, ESXi supports a number of high-end network controllers (10G/40G/100G) designed for Enterprise Data Centers that include advanced networking & low latency features. As more & more workloads appear at the Edge like IoT, point-of-sales & remote office use cases, the traditional networking solutions may no longer meet the needs of these new infrastructures.
For Edge computing environments, reducing the cost & power consumption is definitely one of the driving factors. However, with some of these platforms, their form factors can make it difficult or impossible to support traditional high-end network controllers. Luckily, there are a number of options for network adapters in the market but is can also be difficult to support them all.
USB has become one the most widely adopted connection type in the world & USB network adapters are also popular amongst Edge computing platforms. In some platforms, there is either limited or no PCI/PCIe slots for I/O expansion & in some cases, an Ethernet port is not even available. This Fling will hopefully help enable some of these Edge use cases today and with the help of the community and feedback, we can see how this can be enhanced or evolved over time including where it could even be part of the ESXi distribution.
Another use case for USB-based network adapters as mentioned earlier are for vSphere Home Labs, platforms like the Intel NUC or Apple Mac Mini have limited number of built-in Ethernet ports, but plenty of USB & USB-C ports which can enable these platforms with additional networking capabilities. These systems could also be potential Edge platform candidates given the right connectivity.
For download and instructions, please visit https://labs.vmware.com/flings/usb-network-native-driver-for-esxi
Manuel cornejo says
Sorry if that sound stupid or redundant.
Then we can stop using prior Vib drivers and use this one instead?
Does this one suffer the same disconnection issues or are they solved there?
Thanks for the effort.
I realize it's been quite a few months since your post. Did you ever receive an answer regarding your disconnect question?
Fantastic work! Thank you for your efforts.
Awesome! Just bought myself a micro home lab and the only downside was that I had to trunk WAN and LAN down a single 1G to my virtualized pfsense. Now I can fix that!
I am testing the driver with the USB adapter, and now there is no problem with the loss of packages. But I have seen that now it is not possible to put the MTU to 1600 for NSX, is that so?
2019-02-12T20:31:02.864Z cpu0:2097208)WARNING: UetherUplinkMTUSet:432: Set MTU is not supported: Failure
2019-02-12T20:31:02.864Z cpu0:2097208)WARNING: Uplink: 15740: Failed to set MTU to 1600 on vusb1
William Lam says
Can you please post this on the Fling page so we can track the feedback
Done in the bug report
You post to used this driver on the page for the 5.5 / 6.0 esxi... But fling said it's 6.5/6.7. Was it compatible with esxi 6.0 ? As many, having a perfect working 6, without any passthrought problem, but want to use the usb nic... Thanks
William Lam says
ESXi 5.5 is EOL, so hopefully no one is still using that 😉 The new Fling does not support 6.0, the requirements on the page is correct 6.5/6.7. I only posted this across the different blog posts to make folks aware and all development will be on the Fling and the Native Driver for good reasons. If you're still on 6.0, you can continue using the existing VIB
Saverio Moscardini says
Hi, is it possible to add support for Jumbo frame 9k on realtek? Old driver supports it.
William Lam says
Please submit request on the Fling page, its something we can definitely consider if there are others who are also interested
Michael M says
Awesome announcement!! Thank you for your efforts!
Moar ports! Thanks for sharing
Awesome, been lurking waiting for this to happen, thank you very much!
sudheer varma says
What would be the best 10G nic cards for mac Pro6,1 for esxi 6.0 and above .
Your suggest on this would be valuable.
William Lam says
Check out https://medium.com/@moondev/my-adventure-adding-10gbe-networking-to-an-intel-nuc-for-esxi-via-thunderbolt-3-pcie-expansion-1d6a627ffea4 for a working option
Tom Cronin says
Thank you for the work on this William. Quick question, do we have to do anything with the existing VIB before implementing this one?
William Lam says
You should remove the existing VIB before installing the new one
Hi! Could you give some tips on how to install it into a machine without network? I have the ESXI installer iso, and can't find a way to add the file to it.
William Lam says
You'll want to incorporate the offline bundle into a new ESXi Image using either PowerCLI to create the new Image Profile or if you've got an existing vCenter Server deployment, you can use the vSphere UI to build it. There are a number of examples online which you can search for
Again, thanks for your help and good work on this. Gonna try the PowerCLI track.
Awesome work from everyone involved. Trick would be delighted to know his original work has made such an impact. I’m shocked my little idea for my nonprofit has turned into something this AMAZING! Just shows how even though Trick and I never met, lived halfway across the world from one another, with drastically different schedules, we still managed to create something important to the masses by working together towards a common goal. Send me a message sometime William Lam!
I am using a Plugable USB3-E1000 Ethernet Adapter with AX88179 controller. I incorporated the offline bundle "update-from-esxi6.5-6.5_update02.zip" with the USB Network Native Driver for ESXi "ESXi650-VMKUSB-NIC-FLING-20123976-offline_bundle-11613344". I get an error at 85% installation - "Exception: No vmknic tagged for management was found". Is there a workaround?
Excellent work, kudos to y'all.
Trent Schroeter says
Hi, great work. Just checking though... possible bug report. In ESX 6.7 the performance monitor tab does not seem to record any transmit statistics for the USB NICs. Is this expected?
Thanks for the work! What about the performance?
David Ross says
Thanks for this. It works a treat for my home lab. I wanted to use more than one USB on my NUC and found this site https://github.com/patschi/esxi-persistent-usb-nic-binding/blob/master/vusb.sh
The script here enables more than one persistent usb ehternet hub. It's not my work I'm afraid.
Thanks again guys.
Just wanted to say"thanks" for this fling. 1u chassis NIC was fried during a lightning storm, and a new mobo is $400.
This worked with an hpe brand USB-C RTL8153-03 and a USB-C -> USB regular adapter.
I confirm that the flings driver is working with ESXi 6.7 build 14320388 and the Anker Adaptater Unibody Aluminium USB 3.0 Ethernet Gigabit adapter.
Daniel Brooks says
Hello Phil. Thank you for taking the time to validate the driver. When you say the driver is working with ESXi 6.7 build 14320388, would that include testing that the device will work with all the features like VMotion, DRS and HA? Just wondering to what extent you test the device.
Philippe Huwyler says
Hello Daniel. I use this ethernet adapter in my privat home IT lab on a HP EliteBook Folio 9470m laptop. I'm running an OPNsense firewall as VM on it where its WAN is connected to the adapter as uplink to my internet gateway. I have a second ESXi host that is connected to this internet gateway too. I can live migrate the firewall VM between hosts without any issue nor internet link loss. In my case, the adapter is not directly used for VMotion, DRS or HA. For that I use the onboard nic. Also to mention, a few weeks ago, I could update both ESXi to build 15160138 successfully.
Has anyone had any luck getting a second NIC of any type to work on the MAC Mini 2018?
Internal NIC is working well and I would love to be able to add an second 10GB for separate storage. Not having great luck with the aquantia driver for the usb-c/thunderbolt port
quite a stupid questions but....have to try:
I'm using USB Passthrough to connect 2 Usb Drive to my Windows Server VM....guess I'll will not be able to use also this to add a second nic to my nuc, rigth?
Nathan Barry says
Any chance this would be expanded into general purpose realtek drivers? For example- the community had several vmklinux based drivers for realtek Ethernet adapters, but with the removal of vmklinux lots of cheap, embedded boards are unable to upgrade.
Hi William, not sure if you have tested it for TP-Link UE300. The RX speed is full gigabit, but the TX performance is only 200 mbps ish. When I was on Proxmox, the dongle was able to do full gigabit TX and RX. Please let me know what I can do to help. Thanks.