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Today we have a post from Anand Prakash, a Tech Support Engineer extraordinaire in Bangalore, India.

There are situations where a particular IO device listed as supported in the VMware Compatibility Guide is not recognized by ESX/ESXi. Before logging a case with VMware or reporting an issue to your hardware vendor, it’s well worth checking the IO device in the VMware Compatibility Guide. I wrote this post to help you understand how to locate the proper driver for the supported IO devices listed in our VMware Compatibility Guide.

To access the VMware Compatibility Guide, go to http://www.vmware.com, click Support & Downloads, then click Compatibility Guides. Alternatively, go to http://www.vmware.com/resources/compatibility/search.php.

Click the IO Devices tab and search for a particular IO device. It could be a network card, FC HBA, iSCSI HBA, SCSI Controller, etc.

There are two types of drivers available for all the IO devices:

  • Inbox Driver – This is the driver that is shipped along with ESX/ESXi and is included in the installation OS image. You do not have to install it manually but some devices might require you install the updates for ESX/ESXi to support that device.
  • Asynchronous (Async) Driver – This is a driver that is released separately from an ESX release. The driver may be an updated version of an Inbox driver, or it can be a driver that has not been released as an Inbox driver.

As an example, let’s check the compatibility for the NC364T PCIe Quad-port Gigabit Server Adapter. From the IO Devices tab of the VMware Compatibility Guide, enter NC364T PCIe Quad-port Gigabit Server Adapter in the Keyword Search field and click Search.

Click on a model in the search results to see details such as Device Type, Manufacturer, and Partner Name. For example:

Click the Model/Release Details tab see what version of driver is compatible or shipped with particular release. Supported drivers are listed in Device Driver(s) column. In this case, for release ESX/ ESXi 4.1, the Device Driver is e1000e version 0.4.1.7.1 and it is an inbox driver, which means that you do not have to install the driver manually. For example:

This information helps you decide which release of ESX/ESXi you need to install for a particular version of the driver.

As another example, search the IO tab of the VMware Compatibility Guide for Fujitsu D2735 Gigabit Network Connection. Click the model in the search results and click the Model/Release Details tab. You see that this driver has an inbox driver and an async driver. If you decide to go for the async driver, you have to manually download the driver from:

The Notes indicate where you can download that particular driver. For example:

Let’s say you want to install the async driver for ESX 4.0. The VMware Compatibility Guide says that you need to install igb version 2.1.10.2 and indicates that you need to use this link to download the driver: http://downloads.vmware.com/d/info/datacenter_downloads/vmware_vsphere_4/4#drivers_tools.

Open this URL and expand Driver CDs (in the Drivers & Tools tab) and search for version 2.1.10.2. For example:

Click the link to get details about the driver and, if available, a list of the other driver versions. For example:

Check the Description of the driver to verify that you are using the correct driver. Click Download to download the driver and extract the file. You can use a utility like 7 zip. When you extract the downloaded file, read the readme text file for instructions on how to install the driver.

Last of all, there are some cards that only support an async driver. For example, the Intel Quad Port Server Adapter I340-T4 card device is not recognized until you install the async driver.