A couple of days ago, I got a package containing a new motherboard, a CPU and some RAM.
It was supposed to be used for an upgrade on one of my VMware ESXi servers, since I was running low on resources.
The package contained:
- Motherboard: MSI Z87-G43 (http://www.msi.com/product/mb/Z87-G43.html)
UPDATE: This motherboard has the onboard LAN controller “Realtek 8111E” and it is no longer supported in ESXi 5.5! There is a quick fix, if you already have this motherboard. I made a post about it here
- CPU: i5-4670K (http://ark.intel.com/products/75048/)
- RAM: Kingston HyperX DDR3 1600MHz, 8Gb * 2(16GB total) (http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16820104173)
So, everything looked fine, and I was excited since this was actually my first build with a haswell (4th generation i5) CPU!
Before I ordered the hardware, I googled around to find some answers on Z87 ESXi compatibility, but was not able to find anything, so I was at the same time kind of nervous..
I took out the old parts from the server, and put in the new motherboard, CPU and memory and booted it up into bios.
i then set some settings i wanted (boot order, fan control and so on) and rebooted the server onto the VMware ESXi 5.1-update1 installer I just had burned to a CD only to discover that something was horribly wrong.
I tried multiple times, but I could never get past the “Initializing IOV” message, it just froze/got stuck/hung every time at this point. (See picture of it below)
So I began to get worried that the hardware i got might not be supported.
I googled around but found only people who were saying that they got this working on haswell CPU’s without any problems.
I then tried to make a bios update from v 1.1 to v 1.3, but this did not do any difference.
Then I started looking into compatibility with the hardware (which I also did before i ordered it) and found the following I haven’t noticed before:
On a i5-4670K (With the “K” at the end), the “VT-D” (Intel Virtualization Technology for Directed I/O) feature was not available.
On a i5-4670 (Without any letters at the end) the “VT-D” feature IS available.
I then googled around a bit more, about this feature that was missing from the CPU I got, and found some results saying that this feature is needed by VMware to run.
After scratching my hair out for an hour or two on this problem, trying different things I decided to order the CPU without the “K” at the end.
The package arrived today, so after work I popped in the new CPU (the model without the “K” at the end) and booted up the VMware ESXi CD, and BAM.. it went straight through the install! No problems, no warnings, no errors or anything.
Everything just worked. Even the onboard Realtek Gigabit Network adapter!
What does the “K” mean?
The K model CPU’s are the ones that are “Unlocked”. This means you can overclock it as much as you like, until it becomes unstable. There are no limits on overclocking.
On the none-K model CPU’s, there is a limit on how much you can overclock it, thereby it’s a little bit cheaper since the hardware overclockers and gamers don’t want this model, but the K model instead.
Else, the speed of the two models at default is the same.
What have we learned from this? and what do I want to tell you by writing this post? – If you want to make your own VMware ESXi server, keep away from the i3, i5, i7 CPU’s with the “K” at the end of the model! That’s all.
And that I can highly recommend the hardware I used, specially the Z87 motherboard, it can’t do anything fancy, and supports up to 32GB of RAM.