Dell released their customized version of VMware ESXi 6.5 A00 and is available at Dell support site. There are few more native drivers introduced in VMware ESXi 6.5 compared to VMware ESXi 6.0.x branch and some of them that’s of Dell’s interest are as follows:-

  • ntg3 – This replaces the tg3 vmklinux driver which is part of 6.0.x branch.
  • i40en – This is a new 40Gbps native network driver for Intel 10Gbps & 40Gbps Network Controllers replacing i40e vmklinux driver in 6.0.x branch.
  • igbn – This is a new native network driver for Intel 1Gbps network controllers replacing igb vmklinux drivers from 6.0.x branch.
  • ixgben – Though a new native driver is introduced for Intel 10Gbps network controllers, it’s not enabled by default.
    • Dell customized ESXi 6.5 A00 version contain the latest ixgbe vmklinux driver version for all Intel 10Gbps network controllers. Hence the vmklinux driver is going to be used for the Intel 10Gbps network controllers by default.
    • lsi_mr3 driver in ESXi 6.5 supports Dell PowerEdge RAID controllers for both 12th generation and 13th generation of PowerEdge Servers except H310 adapter. H310 would be supported by megaraid_sas vmklinux driver packaged in Dell customized version of ESXi 6.5 A00.

  • IPMI driver stack (‘ipmi’) in ESXi 6.5 becomes native. Dell supports their iDRAC/BMC controller using this driver.  This replaces the vmklinux version of IPMI drivers (ipmi_msghandler, ipmi_devintf and ipmi_si) used in 6.0.x branch.
  • USB storage stack in ESXi 6.5 is redesigned to native model. Dell’s iDRAC USB NIC is initialized in ESXi 6.5 using the new ‘cdce’ driver. The corresponding driver in 6.0.x branch is ‘cdc_ether’ and ‘usbnet’ which are vmklinux based gadget drivers. ‘vmkusb’ is the new driver introduced from ESXi 6.5 for the USB stack.
  • Dell HBA330 controller uses lsi_msgpt3 driver in 6.5 branch as well as 6.0.x. 
  • vmw_ahci native driver is for SATA AHCI based controllers introduced from 6.5 replacing ahci vmklinux driver in 6.0.x branch.
  • Qedentv driver continued to be in native model for Broadcom 25Gbps devices.
  • ‘nvme’ driver continued to be in native model for initializing Dell branded NVMe devices.

Take a look at some of the excellent blogs written by VMware when they introduced the native driver model. This detail about the high level architecture and the benefits on moving towards native driver model.

1. VMware Native Driver Architecture enables partners to deliver on Simplicity, Robustness, and Performance

2. ESXi 5.5 introduces a new Native Device Driver Architecture Part 1

3. ESXi 5.5 introduces a new Native Device Driver Architecture Part 2