VMware vSphere ESXi 7.0 Update 2 has been released this week and before you start to deploy it to production, you want to evaluate it in your testing environment or homelab. If you have Intel NUCs you should always be very careful when updating to new ESXi releases as there might be issues. Please always keep in mind that this is not an officially supported platform.
Within the 7.0 releases, there are many issues with consumer network adapters, like the deprecation of VMKlinux drivers and thus the missing support for Realtek NICs, and the up and downs with the ne1000 driver.
To be on the safe side, I'm doing a quick checkup on which NUCs are safe to update and what considerations you have to take before installing the update. Also, I'm quickly explaining the options to workaround the crypto64.efi issue.
ESXi 7.0 U2 comes with a new ne1000 driver but from my first observations, it is only a repacked driver without any changes to NUC compatibility.
The driver works out of the box with the 10th Gen NUC and all previous generations, except the 8th Gen. Unfortunately, the Intel I219-V (6) network adapter used in the 8th Gen Bean Canyon NUCs still requires the Fling Driver. If you already own an 11th Gen NUC with the 2.5Gbit NIC, you also need the Fling Driver.
For reference, these are the two drivers we are talking about:
ne1000 0.8.4-11vmw.701.0.0.16850804 <- ESXi 7.0 Update 1
ne1000 0.8.4-11vmw.702.0.0.17630552 <- ESXi 7.0 Update 2
Before you start the upgrade, check that the following issues do not affect your environment:
The USB Nic Fling does not work with 7.0U2 yet. Remove it and reboot your ESXi Host, prior to installing the upgrade.[Update Jun 14, 2021: The USB NIC Fling Version 1.8 supports ESXi 7.0u2]
- To workaround the crypto64.efi issue, the only update options are with Upgrade Baselines using Lifecycle Manager, or offline upgrades (Boot with Installer ISO). See this article for further information.
- VMware has pulled the Update Bundle from their repository so you can't create Custom Images at the moment. If you have the 8th Gen Bean Canyon or 11th Gen NUCs, you should wait until VMware has published an update.
- If you want to explore new features like Tanzu with the Advanced Load Balancer or Kubernetes 1.19, just update your vCenter Server to 7.0 U2 and keep ESXi Hosts at 7.0 U1.
ESXi 7.0 Update 2 with Community Network Driver (8th Gen Bean Canyon / 11th Gen NUC)
- 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)
- 11th Gen NUC (NUC11PAQi7, NUC11PAHi7, NUC11PAKi7, NUC11PAQi5, NUC11PAHi5, NUC11PAKi5, NUC11PAHi3, NUC11PAKi3, NUC11TNHv70L, NUC11TNHv7, NUC11TNHv50L, NUC11TNHv5, NUC11TNKv7, NUC11TNKv5, NUC11TNHi70Q, NUC11TNHi70L, NUC11TNHi7, NUC11TNHi50W, NUC11TNHi50L, NUC11TNHi5, NUC11TNHi30P, NUC11TNHi30L, NUC11TNHi3, NUC11TNKi7, NUC11TNKi5, NUC11TNKi3)
Download the Update Bundle and Fling:
- VMware-ESXi-7.0U2-17630552-depot.zip (Note: The Bundle is no longer available for download. If you downloaded it on GA day, it is safe to use for your NUC.)
- Net-Community-Driver_220.127.116.11-1vmw.700.1.0.15525992_17594603.zip (Community Networking Driver for ESXi Fling)
If you want to do a fresh install of ESXi 7.0 U2, you have to create a custom image, including the Community Driver.
Use the following PowerShell commands to add the community driver to the stock image.
Add-EsxSoftwareDepot .\VMware-ESXi-7.0U2-17630552-depot.zip Add-EsxSoftwareDepot .\Net-Community-Driver_18.104.22.168-1vmw.700.1.0.15525992_17594603.zip New-EsxImageProfile -CloneProfile "ESXi-7.0.2-17630552-standard" -name "ESXi-7.0.2-17630552-NUC" -Vendor "virten.net" Add-EsxSoftwarePackage -ImageProfile "ESXi-7.0.2-17630552-NUC" -SoftwarePackage "net-community" Export-ESXImageProfile -ImageProfile "ESXi-7.0.2-17630552-NUC" -ExportToISO -filepath ESXi-7.0.2-17630552-NUC.iso
Use the ESXi-7.0.2-17630552-NUC.iso image to install ESXi 7.0 U2 on your NUC. Do not create a .zip bundle to update with ESXCLI!
Due to the crypto64.efi bug, you cant work with .zip bundles to upgrade ESXi. The only update options are with Upgrade Baselines using Lifecycle Manager, or offline upgrades. See this article for update instructions.
ESXi 7.0 Update 2 on any other Intel NUC
Any other NUC can be upgraded like normale supported hardware. See this article for update instructions.