Intel NUC Latest BIOS Version as Table and JSON (Daily Updates)

An Intel NUC BIOS Version overview is now available at virten.net. The page displays the latest version from all BIOS types and their corresponding NUC models. The page is updated every day. You can access the page in the "Homelab" menu.

The latest BIOS Version list is available as a table and JSON file. Read more »

Intel NUC Recommended BIOS Settings for VMware ESXi

The following BIOS settings are recommended for Intel NUC Systems running VMware ESXi. The list was created based on the latest 10th Gen Frost Canyon. Available options may differ with older NUCs.

To enter the BIOS, press F2 after powering on the system. Read more »

VMware EVC Mode to Enable Intel Gen5-Gen10 NUC vMotion

Many VMware Homelabs are based on Intel NUCs. It is also very common that generations are mixed which can lead to compatibility issues when trying to vMotion VMs across different generations. This is typically where VMware EVC comes into play.

VMware EVC creates a baseline of CPU instructions for virtual machines running on ESXi hosts. When you add newer Hosts, EVC hides the new CPU instructions to the virtual machines. While this works great for Xeon CPUs used in professional servers, it has some limitations with consumer CPUs used in the Intel NUC ecosystem.

The problem has become worse with the latest 10th Gen Comet Lake/Frost Canyon NUC. Despite having a 10th generation CPU, it requires the EVC baseline to be configured to "Sandy Bridge", which is the 2nd generation of Intel Core-i CPUs:

  • NUC10i7FNH/NUC10i7FNK (Intel Core i7-10710U - 6 Core, up to 4.7 GHz)
  • NUC10i5FNH/NUC10i5FNK (Intel Core i5-10210U - 4 Core, up to 4.2 GHz)
  • NUC10i3FNH/NUC10i3FNK (Intel Core i3-10110U - 2 Core, up to 4.1 GHz)

When you try to activate VMware EVC higher than Sandy Bridge, the following error message is displayed:

Compatibility
The host's CPU hardware does not support the cluster's current Enhanced vMotion Compatibility mode. The host CPU lacks features required by that mode.

When you try to add the Host to an EVC Enabled Cluster, the task fails:

Operation failed!
The host's CPU hardware does not support the cluster's current Enhanced vMotion Compatibility mode. The host CPU lacks features required by that mode.
CPUID faulting is not supported.
See KB 1003212 for more information.
Host is of type: vendor intel family 0x6 model 0xa6

Read more »

ESXi on 10th Gen Intel NUC (Comet Lake - Frost Canyon)

Intel's Comet Lake-based 10th Gen Frost Canyon NUC series is currently rolled out and after some initial problems with the NIC driver, it is time to take a look at their capabilities to run VMware ESXi. NUCs are not officially supported by VMware but they are very widespread in many homelabs or test environments. They are small, silent, transportable and have very low power consumption, making it a great server for your homelab. The Frost Canyon is available with i3, i5, and i7 CPU. It's the first series that is available with a Hexa-Core CPU and full 64GB Memory support. Besides that, there are only minor improvements compared to their predecessor, the Bean Canyon.

  • NUC10i7FNH/NUC10i7FNK (Intel Core i7-10710U - 6 Core, up to 4.7 GHz)
  • NUC10i5FNH/NUC10i5FNK (Intel Core i5-10210U - 4 Core, up to 4.2 GHz)
  • NUC10i3FNH/NUC10i3FNK (Intel Core i3-10110U - 2 Core, up to 4.1 GHz)

Read more »

How to check NVMe Drives TBW in ESXi with PowerCLI

When working with SSDs, you have to keep an eye on its TBW ("Total Bytes Written" or "Terabytes Written"). A maximum TBW guarantee is typically provided by the vendor in their specifications. This value describes how data can be written to the entire device until the warranty expires. The current value can be checked with S.M.A.R.T.

This article explains how to check the TBW value on NVMe based drives running in an ESXi host with PowerShell or from the command line. If you have a SATA based SSD drive, check this article.

Read more »

ESXi on 8th Gen Intel NUC (Coffee Lake - Bean Canyon)

Intel's Coffee Lake-based 8th Gen Bean Canyon NUC is an ideal candidate for running VMware ESXi. NUCs are not officially supported by VMware but they are very widespread in many homelabs or test environments. They are small, silent, transportable and have very low power consumption, making it a great server for your homelab. The Bean Canyon is available with i3, i5, and i7 CPU. It's the first series where the i5 is also equipped with a Quad-Core CPU, so both - the i5 and i7 - are ideal candidates for ESXi.

  • NUC8i7BEH/NUC8i7BEK (Intel Core i7-8559U - 4 Core, up to 4.5 GHz)
  • NUC8i5BEH/NUC8i5BEK (Intel Core i5-8259U - 4 Core, up to 3.8 GHz)
  • NUC8i3BEH/NUC8i3BEK (Intel Core i3-8109U - 2 Core, up to 3.6 GHz)

Read more »

Intel NUC with 64GB Memory Support (6th - 10th Gen)

Intel NUCs can go up to 32GB Memory for about 5 years. With the growing memory requirements of VMware Software, these numbers have become a problem in NUC based Homelabs. Luckily, single 32GB Modules are available and affordable now which boosts many NUC generations up to 64GB.

At the moment, there are a few vendors providing single 32GB DDR4 SO-DIMM modules. I highly recommend getting the Samsung M471A4G43MB1 module, which is not only very affordable and available but also listed on Intel's compatibility list for 10th Generation NUCs. A single 32GB Module costs about $130 on Amazon at the moment. The price has dropped massively in the last 12 months. In February 2019, a single module was available for $380. The lowest price was around Christmas 2019 at $112. Currently (March 2020) the module is available for $124.
Read more »

Backup vSphere Cluster with ghettoVCB

The ghettoVCB script is a well known free backup solution for standalone ESXi Hosts created by William Lam. The script works with ESXi 3.x up to ESXi 6.7. It does not support vCenter or cluster backups out of the box but with a little workaround, you can backup virtual machines in a DRS enabled cluster. I'm using this type of backup for a couple of months without issues.

Read more »

Adding ESXi Host to an EVC enabled Cluster fails

Adding an ESXi host to an EVC enabled vSphere 6.7 Clusters fails with the following error message:

The host's CPU hardware does not support the cluster's current Enhanced vMotion Compatibility mode. The host CPU lacks features required by that mode.

  • com.vmware.vim.vmfeature.cpuid.mdclear
  • com.vmware.vim.vmfeature.cpuid.fcmd
  • com.vmware.vim.vmfeature.cpuid.ssbd

See KB 1003212 for more information.
Host is of type: vendor intel family 0x6 model 0x8e
The target host does not support the virtual machine's current hardware requirements.

The cluster is running with EVC Mode "Haswell" and contains hosts with "Skylake" and "Kaby Lake G" CPUs while the new host has a "Kaby Lake" CPU. There is no reason why it shouldn't be possible to add the host to the cluster. All Hosts are running ESXi 6.7 U3 (Build 15018017).

Read more »

ESXi on 8th Gen Intel NUC (Kaby Lake-G - Hades Canyon)

Intel launched a successor to their Skull Canyon based Gaming NUCs - The 8th Gen Kaby Lake-G NUC. The new Hades Canyon named NUCs are the first systems to have two Gigabit NICs embedded which makes them even better to be used with ESXi. NUCs are not officially supported by VMware but they are very widespread in many home labs or test environments. They are small, silent, transportable and have a very low power consumption, making it a great server for your homelab. Generation 8 Hades Canyon NUCs are available with two different CPUs but their main difference is the Graphics chip. Compared to the previous releases commercial Dawson Canyon NUCs, they are not equipped with Intel's vPro Technology.

  • NUC8i7HVK (Intel Core i7‑8809G) - "The big one"
  • NUC8i7HNK (Intel Core i7‑8705G)

Read more »