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I have an HP Proliant DL 360 G6. ESXi is installed on the array controlled by the on board RAID controller (P420 I think)

ESXi recognizes the P812 RAID controller but when I put PCI passthrough on it I get a purple screen of death.

My goal is to virtualize an FTP/SAMBA server and give the P812 RAID controller (all 12TB of the MSA60) solely to the FTP/SAMBA VM and nothing else.

I have tried ESXi 5.1 (known to have broken PCI passthrough) and 5.0 (shouldn't have broken passthrough). How do I get this working?

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What else are you running on this server to justify virtualizing it versus running bare metal? – ewwhite Mar 15 '13 at 13:59
eventually I will be virtualizing a web server, and a few other things. I want to virtualize everything to make it easier to manage. I have extra hardware though so I may end up running it on bare metal. – h3rrmiller Mar 15 '13 at 14:04
up vote 1 down vote accepted

PCI passthrough is supported on the devices you have. You'll need to update the firmware of all devices. Do this with all devices connected and by running the HP Service Pack for ProLiant bootable DVD. Your PSOD error may have been resolved in a later build of ESXi. Don't just use what you've downloaded from VMware. You'll want to update to the latest build from the patch download site.

I think using the Smart Array P812 controller is a mistake in a passthrough configuration, though. By dedicating it to a single virtual machine, you've added complexity to the setup with no performance or manageability advantage. In addition, you'll need to monitor the storage hardware from the file server VM as well as at the ESXi level.

A better solution would be to use one or both controllers (since the P812 can address your internal disks, too) and create multiple HP logical drives, placing the file server's data in standard VMDK files. With that, you'll have a single management plane.

But ensure all updates are in place before trying the passthrough again.

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Why would want to implement the complexity of passing it through. Just configure a datastore and present a VMDK or RDM only to your FTP/SAMBA server. This gives you may more flexibility and will be far more supportable.

That said, by doing this anyway, you're losing a lot of the benefits of virtualisation unless you're going to implement some kind of replication system.

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I want the VM to run on the DL360 and just give that VM sole control of the MSA60 via the P812 – h3rrmiller Mar 15 '13 at 14:02
Yes, but why? I'm not saying you're wrong or can't do this, but why does your VM need hardware level access to the P812? – Dan Mar 15 '13 at 14:03
I suppose it doesn't. I guess I just don't understand how else to give the whole device to the one VM and not the others. If I were to create a datastore on the MSA60 is it treated like a block device? could I mount it as /share? I would like to have the VM ran on the datastore on the DL360 not the MSA60 – h3rrmiller Mar 15 '13 at 14:06
Resource allocation is purely a matter of administration. ESXi doesn't just pool storage - you choose what data goes where and what VM's get what disks. And yes, the Virtual Machine sees a block device. – Dan Mar 15 '13 at 14:10
as a side note its an awful lot of machine to run just bare metal which was another reason ESXi appealed to me – h3rrmiller Mar 15 '13 at 14:26

I know this post is a few years old, but I think he may have been interested in doing something similar to what I'm planning to do. I have an ESXi 5.5 host (DL380 G6 in fact) running a few essential VMs. The main datastore is supported by the Smart Array P400 ("on-board"). I have an external enclosure (MSA60) that connects directly to the Smart Array P812 (PCI) via Mini SAS cable. The hope is to cut equipment and operation costs by virtualizing a (currently physical) file server. Now, I do see where you are coming from with your recommendation to create another datastore and present it to the VM (in this case the file server), however, WS2012 includes some pretty fancy data management tools. Since I anticipate our storage needs growing over the next few years, I would like to be able to take full advantage of WS2012's Storage Spaces and Pools features.

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Then do it with the right equipment. ZFS, Storage Spaces, vSAN are all solutions that prefer raw disks and no RAID controller. You should use an HBA for them. – ewwhite Jan 2 at 10:07

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