Today, we have an exciting update to give on our USB Network Native Driver for ESXi Fling which has had two updates since releasing earlier this year and has been extremely well received by the VMware community. As many of you know, I am always on the look out for new and innovative tech that can help enable our customers, especially when it comes to building home labs to learn about the latest and greatest VMware software.
UPDATE (06/08/20) - QNAP has just published the updated firmware for their QNA-UC5G1T USB NIC which resolves some of the performance issue observed with the initial release.
Several months back, I came to learn about a really cool USB-based Multi-Gigabit Network Adapter (QNA-UC5G1T) from QNAP which can negotiate with speeds up to 1Gbps, 2.5Gbps and 5Gbps. I was not familiar with the multi-gig specification but it it looks like it was created as a standard back in 2016 as IEEE 802.3bz. This initially evolved from advancements in wireless technology but more recently it started to make its way into ethernet-based devices.
Although this particular device is from QNAP, the underlying chipset is actually from Aquantia, now part of Marvell. If the name sounds familiar, it should as Aquantia is also the vendor to Apple for their 10GbE NICs in both the 2018 Mac Mini and new iMac Pros. In fact, their chipsets are also used in a number of Thunderbolt 3 to 10GbE NICs which also works with ESXi. Access to 10GbE is certainly more common these days but it certainly is not for everyone and not all platforms can be expanded to support it.
The QNA-UC5G1T device is not only small but because it is USB-based, you are more likely to have spare USB ports on your system than say a traditional PCIe slot or Thunderbolt 3 port. From a cost standpoint, this device is about half the cost of the 10GbE Thunderbolt adapter coming in at $79 USD and can be ordered from Amazon. As far as I know, QNAP is the only vendor who has produced a multi-gig USB adapter, but perhaps in the future, there will be other vendors.