What’s New in Hardware Version 17?

Recently, vSphere 7 has been released by VMware at 2nd March 2020. The new version are includes massive improvements and features. Some of new features are related to virtual machine hardware. Usually, each major version of vSphere will introduced new hardware version and vSphere 7 has come with hardware version 17.

Compare Hardware Version 17 with Hardware Version 15

Hardware version 15 is default hardware for virtual machines in vSphere 6.7 U2, let’s see that what are changes and which new hardware has been added.

USB Support

vSphere 6.7 was last version with supporting USB 1.x and 2.0. The version of USB hardware are not supported in vSphere 7. (I’ve added USB 2.0 in standalone ESXi 7!)

Also vSphere 7 has support for USB 3.1 SuperSpeed and SuperSpeedPlus which not available in the previous versions.

3D Video Memory

3D Video memory is doubled in vSphere 7. vSphere 6.7 supports up to 2 GB memory and vSphere 7 supports 4 GB video memory.

Dynamic DirectPath

As a part of the Assignable Hardware framework in vSphere 7, Dynamic DirectPath I/O is introduced. Dynamic DirectPath I/O is the new solution that enables the Assignable Hardware intelligence for passthrough devices.

vm configuration ddpio

When you choose “Select Hardware”, all the PCIe devices capable for passthrough are listed in the dropdown menu. Once a specific device is selected, Assignable Hardware with DRS will find a suitable host that can satisfy the request for the configured hardware accelerator.

Virtual SGX Device

Intel Software Guard Extensions (SGX) is a set of security-related instruction codes that are built into some modern Intel central processing units (CPUs). They allow user-level as well as operating system code to define private regions of memory, called enclaves, whose contents are protected and unable to be either read or saved by any process outside the enclave itself, including processes running at higher privilege levels. SGX is disabled by default and must be opted in to by the user through their motherboard settings on a supported system.

vSphere 7 supporting Virtual SGX Device and it was not available in previous versions.

vsphere7 Virtual SGX Device
Virtual SGX Device

Incompatible Features with SGX

When SGX is enabled, virtual machine can not take benefits of the below features:

  • vMotion
  • Fault Tolerance
  • Suspending
  • Snapshot
  • Guest Integrity

Virtual Precision Clock Device

The Precision Time Protocol (PTP) is a protocol used to synchronize clocks throughout a computer network. On a local area network, it achieves clock accuracy in the sub-microsecond range, making it suitable for measurement and control systems. Now the virtual device is available for virtual machines in vSphere 7.

vsphere7 Virtual Precision Clock Device
Virtual Precision Clock Device

You can choose:

  • Host System Time (Any)
  • Host System Time (NTP)
  • Host System Time (PTP)

If you choose PTP, you should configure your ESXi host for PTP.

Virtual Watchdog Timer Device

To ensure self-reliance related to the system performance within a virtual machine, you can add a virtual Watchdog Timer (VWDT) device. If the guest operating system stops responding and cannot recover on its own due to software glitches or errors, the VWDT waits for a predefined period of time and then restarts the system.

You can enable the VWDT to start either by the guest operating system, or by the BIOS or EFI firmware. If you chose the VWDT to start by the BIOS or EFI firmware, it starts before the guest operating system boots.

The VWDT has an important role in guest-based clustering solutions where each virtual machine in the cluster can recover on its own if it fails.

vsphere7 Virtual Watchdog Timer Device
Virtual Watchdog Timer Device

Full Comparison Table

FeatureESXi 7.0 and laterESXi 6.7 Update 2 and later
Hardware version1715
Maximum memory (GB)61286128
Maximum number of logical processors256256
Maximum number of cores (virtual CPUs) per socket6464
Maximum SCSI adapters44
Bus Logic adaptersYY
LSI Logic adaptersYY
LSI Logic SAS adaptersYY
VMware Paravirtual controllersYY
SATA controllers44
NVMe controllers44
Virtual SCSI diskYY
SCSI passthroughYY
SCSI hot add supportYY
IDE nodesYY
Virtual IDE diskYY
IDE hot add supportNN
Maximum NICs1010
USB 1.x and 2.0NY
USB 3.1 SuperSpeedYY
USB 3.1 SuperSpeedPlusYN
Maximum video memory (MB)128128
Maximum 3D graphics memory (GB)42
SVGA displays1010
SVGA 3D hardware accelerationYY
PCI passthrough1616
Dynamic DirectPathYN
PCI Hot add supportYY
Virtual Precision Clock deviceYN
Virtual Watchdog Timer deviceYN
Virtual SGX deviceYN
Nested HV supportYY
vPMC supportYY
Serial ports3232
Parallel ports33
Floppy devices22
Virtual RDMAYY
NVDIMM controller11
NVDIMM device6464
Virtual I/O MMUYY
Virtual TPMYY
Microsoft VBSYY
Hardware Version 17 vs 15

vSphere 7 Hardware Version Compatibility

Virtual machines that are compatible with ESX 3.x and later (hardware version 4) are supported with ESXi 7.0. Virtual machines that are compatible with ESX 2.x and later (hardware version 3) are not supported. To use such virtual machines on ESXi 7.0, upgrade the virtual machine compatibility.

Further Reading

The New Guy Came, vSphere 7

External Links

Hardware Features Available with Virtual Machine Compatibility Settings

vSphere 7 – Assignable Hardware

Precision Time Protocol

Software Guard Extensions

Using a Virtual Watchdog Timer

Add a Precision Clock Device to a Virtual Machine

VMware vSphere 7.0 Release Notes

Davoud Teimouri

Professional blogger, vExpert 2015/2016/2017/2018/2019/2020/2021/2022/2023, vExpert NSX, vExpert PRO, vExpert Security, vExpert EUC, VCA, MCITP. This blog is started with simple posts and now, it has large following readers.

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