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ESXi on 12th Gen Intel NUC Pro (Wall Street Canyon)

Intel's Alder Lake-based 12th Gen "Wall Street Canyon" NUC Professional series is currently been shipped out. This article takes a deep look at their capabilities to run VMware ESXi. While VMware does not officially support NUCs, they are ubiquitous in many home labs and test environments. They are small, silent, transportable, and have very low power consumption, making them a great server for running your inexpensive home lab. The Wall Street Canyon is available with i3, i5, and i7 CPUs. The i5 and i7 versions are also available with vPro Support.

  • NUC12WSHv7 / NUC12WSKv7 (Intel Core i7-1270P vPro - 4 x up to 4.80 GHz / 8 x up to 3.50 GHz)
  • NUC12WSHv5 / NUC12WSKv5 (Intel Core i5-1250P vPro - 4 x up to 4.40 GHz / 8 x up to 3.30 GHz)
  • NUC12WSHi7 / NUC12WSKi7 (Intel Core i7-1260P - 4 x up to 4.70 GHz / 8 x up to 3.40 GHz)
  • NUC12WSHi5 / NUC12WSKi5 (Intel Core i5-1240P - 4 x up to 4.40 GHz / 8 x up to 3.30 GHz)
  • NUC12WSHi3 / NUC12WSKi3 (Intel Core i3-1220P - 2 x up to 4.40 GHz / 8 x up to 3.30 GHz)

The Wall Street Canyon is Intel's professional line from their 12th NUC Generation and the successor to the 11th Gen Tiger Canyon. This system is intended for professional use cases and has significant enhancements for your homelab running ESXi. Like the previous generation, it has an expansion bay that allows you to install a second network adapter.

Read More »ESXi on 12th Gen Intel NUC Pro (Wall Street Canyon)

VMware ESXi 7.0 Update 3 on Intel NUC

VMware vSphere ESXi 7.0 Update 3 has been released in October 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 or similar hardware you should 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 and there might be compatibility issues.

In vSphere 7.0, there are ups and downs with consumer-grade network adapters. Since the deprecation of VMKlinux drivers, there is no option to use Realtek-based NICs, and previous versions had problems with the ne1000 driver. Luckily there is the great Community Networking Driver for ESXi Fling that adds support for a bunch of network cards and VMKUSB-NIC-FLING always covers your back.

I've updated my NUC portfolio to check which NUCs are safe to update and what considerations you have to take before installing the update. Additionally, I'm taking a look at the consequences of the recently deprecated USB/SD-Card usage for ESXi Installations and some general Issues in 7.0u3.

Read More »VMware ESXi 7.0 Update 3 on Intel NUC

ESXi on ASRock Industrial NUC 1100 Series (11th Gen Intel "Tiger Lake" CPU)

ASRock Industrial has a NUC-like small form factor (SFF) system in their portfolio, which is very similar to Intel's latest 11th Gen NUC Series. With the global shortage of microchips the availability of 11th Gen NUCs, especially the Dual-NIC "Pro" models, is still limited. While looking for alternatives, the ASRock Industrial NUC1100 Series came out as a great alternative to the original NUC Series.

SFF systems (also known as Barebone, Nettop, SoC, or Mini-PC) like Intel's or ASRocks's NUC are not officially supported by VMware but they are very widespread in the homelab community. They are small, silent, transportable, and have very low power consumption, making them great servers in your homelab. The ASRock 1100 Series is available with i3, i5, or i7 CPU and supports up to 64GB of Memory. All models are equipped with two Network adapters, one with 1 Gigabit and a second adapter with 2.5 Gigabit support. Both adapters can be used with the latest VMware ESXi 7.0.

  • NUC BOX-1165G7 (Intel Core i7-1165G7 - 4 Core, up to 4.7 GHz)
  • NUC BOX-1135G7 (Intel Core i5-1135G7 - 4 Core, up to 4.2 GHz)
  • NUC BOX-1115G4 (Intel Core i3-1115G4 - 2 Core, up to 4.1 GHz)

Will ESXi run on the ASRock Industrial NUC 1100 Series?
Yes. It is possible to install ESXi. Due to missing i219V and i225LM drivers in the original image, it is required to create a custom Image using a community-created driver. Instructions on how to create the Image are included in this article. This problem is not specific to ASRock's 11th Gen. The custom image is also required for Intel's 11th Gen NUC and some older models.

Read More »ESXi on ASRock Industrial NUC 1100 Series (11th Gen Intel "Tiger Lake" CPU)

VMware ESXi 7.0 Update 2 on Intel NUC

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.

Read More »VMware ESXi 7.0 Update 2 on Intel NUC

ESXi on 11th Gen Intel NUC Pro (Tiger Canyon)

Intel's Tiger Lake-based 11th Gen "Tiger Canyon" NUC Professional series has been launched in Q1 of 2021. In a previous article, I made a quick comparison of the upcoming 11th Gen series NUCs. This article takes a deeper look at their capabilities to run VMware ESXi. VMware does not officially support NUCs but they are ubiquitous in many home labs or test environments. They are small, silent, transportable, and have very low power consumption, making them a great server for your home lab. The Tiger Canyon is available with i3, i5, and i7 CPUs. The i5 and i7 versions are also available with vPro Support.

  • NUC11TNKv7 / NUC11TNHv7 / NUC11TNHv70L (Intel Core i7-1185G7 vPro - 4 Core, up to 4.8 GHz)
  • NUC11TNKv5 / NUC11TNHv5 / NUC11TNHv50L (Intel Core i5-1145G7 vPro - 4 Core, up to 4.4 GHz)
  • NUC11TNKi7 / NUC11TNHi7 / NUC11TNHi70L (Intel Core i7-1165G7 - 4 Core, up to 4.7 GHz)
  • NUC11TNKi5 / NUC11TNHi5 / NUC11TNHi50L (Intel Core i5-1135G7 - 4 Core, up to 4.2 GHz)
  • NUC11TNKi3 / NUC11TNHi3 / NUC11TNHi30L (Intel Core i3-1115G4 - 2 Core, up to 4.1 GHz)

The Tiger Canyon is Intel's professional line in the 11th Generation. As we didn't have a vPro NUC in the 10th Generation and the 9th series was quite a different approach with a larger chassis, the Tiger Canyon is the actual successor to the 8th Gen Provo Canyon. This system is intended for professional use cases and has some great enhancements for your homelab running ESXi like the expansion bay which allows you to install a second network adapter.

Read More »ESXi on 11th Gen Intel NUC Pro (Tiger Canyon)

ESXi on 11th Gen Intel NUC (Tiger Lake - Panther Canyon)

Intel's Tiger Lake-based 11th Gen Panther Canyon NUC series has been launched in Q1 of 2021. In a previous article, I made a quick comparison of the upcoming 11th Gen series NUCs. This article takes a deeper look at their capabilities to run VMware ESXi. VMware does not officially support NUCs but they are ubiquitous in many home labs or test environments. They are small, silent, transportable, and have very low power consumption, making them a great server for your home lab. The Panther Canyon is available with i3, i5, and i7 CPUs.

  • NUC11PAKi7/NUC11PAHi7 (Intel Core i7-1165G7 - 4 Core, up to 4.7 GHz)
  • NUC11PAKi5/NUC11PAHi5 (Intel Core i5-1135G7 - 4 Core, up to 4.2 GHz)
  • NUC11PAKi3/NUC11PAHi3 (Intel Core i3-1115G4 - 2 Core, up to 4.1 GHz)

The Panther Canyon is Intel's low-end line in the 11th Generation and the successor to the Frost Canyon. This system is intended to be your standard pc, home theater, or home office workstation. The newly introduced Q-chassis has a 15W wireless fast-charging lid that allows you to charge your smartphone. It is available with i3, i5, or i7 CPU. Like in previous NUC generations, the performance line can be equipped with a 2.5" SATA3 drive.

If you do not need a second 2.5Gbit Adapter or vPro features, this can be an inexpensive alternative to be used in a homelab or for running VMware ESXi.

Read More »ESXi on 11th Gen Intel NUC (Tiger Lake - Panther Canyon)

11th Gen Intel NUC - Which is the best candidate to run ESXi?

Intel has finally announced their 11th Generation NUCs. For the first time, all three product lines are announced at the same time. The NUC series is very popular to be used in homelabs or for running VMware ESXi. They are small, silent, transportable, and have very low power consumption.

In this article, I'm going to take a look at the 3 different product lines and how they compare to each other and previous NUCs.

Read More »11th Gen Intel NUC - Which is the best candidate to run ESXi?

VMware vSAN on Consumer-Grade SSDs - Endurance analysis

When you are running an ESXi based homelab, you might have considered using vSAN as the storage technology of choice. Hyperconverged storages are a growing alternative to SAN-based systems in virtual environments, so using them at home will help to improve your skillset with that technology.

To get started with vSAN you need at least 3 ESXi Hosts, each equipped with 2 drives. Alternatively, you can build a 2-node vSAN Cluster using a Raspberry Pi as a witness node.

VMware maintains a special HCL that lists supported drives to be used with vSAN. In production setups, it is very important to use certified hardware. Using non-enterprise hardware might result in data loss and bad performance caused by the lack of power loss protection and small caches.

This article takes a look at consumer-grade SSDs and their durability to be used with vSAN. Please be aware that non-certified hardware should only be used in homelabs or for demo purposes. Do not place sensitive data on vSAN that is running on consumer hardware.

Read More »VMware vSAN on Consumer-Grade SSDs - Endurance analysis

Update ESXi 7.0 with VMKUSB NIC Fling to 7.0 Update 1

The USB Native Driver Fling, a popular ESXi driver by Songtao Zheng and William Lam that adds support for USB-based Network Adapters, has been updated to version 1.7. The new version has added support for vSphere 7.0 Update 1.

When you download the latest version, you notice that there are separate versions for 7.0 and 7.0 U1. Both versions are only compatible with their corresponding ESXi version, which makes direct updates a little bit more complex.

This article explains how to upgrade ESXi hosts with USB-based network adapters in a single step.

Read More »Update ESXi 7.0 with VMKUSB NIC Fling to 7.0 Update 1

Will ESXi 7.0 Update 1 run on Intel NUC?

VMware vSphere ESXi 7.0 Update 1 is here. If you have Intel NUCs in your homelab 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.

Typically, you see problems with new major releases (eg. the Realtek problem in ESXi 7.0) but this time we seem to run into a problem with 8th Gen NUCs in the 7.0 U1 release. The Intel I219-V (6) network adapter fails to load after upgrading to ESXi 7.0 U1. When you try to do a fresh installation, it fails with the well known "No Network Adapters" error.

To be on the safe side, I'm doing a quick checkup on which NUCs are safe to update and where you have to implement a workaround.

In the meantime: Stay Calm, you can run ESXi 7.0 U1 on the 8th Gen NUC!

Read More »Will ESXi 7.0 Update 1 run on Intel NUC?