Dell Servers, ESXi 5 recommendations, and NIC driver Versions


Dell wrote a recommendation document on what BIOS settings you should enable to achieve the greatest performance out of their servers. I agree with most of what they say but have a couple of modifications. The original document can be found here.

Within the document they also reference the Best Practice white papers from VMware. It’s all a good read for any VMware Admin.

Here’s the bread and butter:

Before you go live always make sure you firmware is up to date on the server. For me I always build a new Firmware disk using the Dell Repository Manager, I also check on Dell’s website to verify what the latest firmware is and if I need to import the bin files.

Next I always set these settings in the BIOS:

Hardware-Assisted Virtualization Enabled
Hyper-Threading Enabled
Node Interleaving Disabled
Power Management to Maximum Performance
Disable all COM Ports, and USB Ports if your are not using them for your firmware updates.
Disable C states and C1E

You might be asking how to check the BIOS version while ESXi 5 is running. That’s simple in vCenter click on your host then click on Hardware Status. This will outline several pieces of information, one of them being the BIOS Version.
To get the details of the NIC Firmware version is a little more complicated. First you need to identify which NIC you want to check the firmware on.  Reference this KB article for the full details.

Simply put:

enable SSH or Local Support Mode and connect to the host.

run esxcli network nic list to list your pNICs on the server

then run ethtool -i VMNic Name
This will list in detail the Driver Version and Firmware Version, write these down because you will need them later!

Then use vmkchdev -l | grep VMNic Name

This will get you the detailed VID/DID/SVID/SDID

Then you can run over here to verify the pNIC driver version and firmware version is compatible with the version of ESXi you are running.

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