The expandability of the Apple 2019 Mac Pro (7,1) has been the primary reason VMware customers have been so excited for this new platform for virtualizing macOS on ESXi. The most common request that I hear from customers is for GPU passthrough.
Although VMware does not officially support GPU passthrough, even for the existing Apple hardware systems on the VMware HCL, this has been a topic I have been keeping an eye out on, especially from what the VMware community is doing in this space.
My intention for this blog post is to provide a resource for the community on capturing the success and failures when attempting GPU passthrough on a 2019 Mac Pro. For those interested and have capable hardware, you may want to start with the VMware HCL for GPU passthrough devices listed under Virtual Dedicated Graphics Acceleration (vDGA). This may be your best chance to successfully passthrough a GPU that will be recognized by either a macOS or Linux/Windows guest operating system.
If you would like to share your experiences, feel free to leave a comment or reach out by filling the contact form.
Disclaimer: Although ESXi installs and runs on the Apple 2019 Mac Pro 7,1 it is currently not certified on the VMware HCL. There are no timelines on the certification due to challenges with COVID-19.
Radeon Pro W5700X MPX Module
Thanks to fellow reader Ned who recently reached out and shared his experience with the Radeon Pro W5700x MPX Module from Apple. Ned's initial attempt to passthrough the GPU to a macOS guest caused it to kernel panice when loading the Radeon Framebuffer Driver (RadeonX6000Framebuffer). I had suggested using a GPU that was on VMware's HCL to see if that made a difference or experiment by using a Windows guest to see if the behavior was the same.
It turns out that by using a Windows 10 (64-Bit) guest, Ned was successful in passing through the Radeon GPU to the VM and this looks to be an issue with the macOS driver, at least running in a VM. This testing was done using latest ESXi 7.0 Update 1b release.