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Enhanced vMotion Compatibility

Product Support Engineering

VMware Confidential

Module 2 Lessons
Lesson 1 vCenter Server High Availability Lesson 2 vCenter Server Distributed Resource Scheduler

Lesson 3 Fault Tolerance Virtual Machines

Lesson 4 Enhanced vMotion Compatibility Lesson 5 DPM - IPMI Lesson 6 vApps Lesson 7 Host Profiles Lesson 8 Reliability, Availability, Serviceability ( RAS ) Lesson 9 Web Access Lesson 10 vCenter Server Update Manager Lesson 11 Guided Consolidation Lesson 12 Health Status
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Module 2-4 Lessons

Lesson 1 Overview of Enhanced vMotion Compatibility Lesson 2 Compatibility Matrix Lesson 3 EVC Baselines Lesson 4 Requirements for EVC Lesson 5 Enabling EVC on a Cluster

Lesson 6 Troubleshooting EVC

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OEM VMotion Compatibility Matrix

Source:; Similar matrices are available for HP and IBM servers

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Enhanced VMotion Compatibility (EVC)

EVC allows vCenter to enforce VMotion compatibility between all hosts in a cluster by forcing hosts to expose a common set of CPU features (baseline) to Virtual Machines. EVC automatically configures servers whose CPUs feature Intel FlexMigration and AMD-V Extended Migration technologies to be VMotion-compatible with servers that use older CPUs.

EVC ensures that all hosts in a cluster present the same CPU feature set to Virtual Machines, even if the actual CPUs on the hosts differ.
This prevents migrations with VMotion from failing due to incompatible CPUs.

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Detecting CPU Features

OS or application software executes CPUID machine instruction CPUID instruction reports many system properties:
Vendor (e.g. Intel or AMD) CPU family, model, stepping Supported CPU features, e.g.:

NX/XD (No execute; memory protection from malware) AMD-V/VT-x (Virtualization support in hardware) SSE3 (CPU instructions to optimize streaming applications)

Number of CPU cores, cache size, and many other properties

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EVC Benefits
Enables VMotion across CPU generations
New CPUs are automatically configured to be compatible with earlier versions. Makes it much easier to add new hardware to existing clusters.

No manual CPUID masking required

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Intel EVC Cluster With Different Generation CPUs

Intel EVC Cluster

OS Intel Core 2 VM

Intel Core 2 CPU

Intel Core 2 45nm CPU

Future Intel CPU

VM sees Intel Core 2 level CPU features and can migrate to any host in the EVC cluster

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AMD EVC Cluster With Different Generation CPUs

AMD EVC Cluster

OS Opteron Rev E VM


AMD Barcelona CPU

Future AMD CPU

VM sees AMD Opteron Rev E CPU features, can migrate to any host in the EVC cluster.

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EVC Baselines
Baseline: a set of CPU features that is supported by every host in the cluster
Baseline is the least common denominator of all hosts, or less

In ESX 3.5 u2, one baseline per CPU vendor

Intel: CPU features supported by Merom cores AMD: CPU features supported in Opteron Rev E/F

In VI4, it is expected that two or more baselines can be defined, e.g.:

Intel: Merom, Penryn (SSE4.1), Nehalem (SSE4.2) AMD: Rev E/F and Greyhound (SSE4A, ABM)

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EVC Baselines (ctd)

EVC Baseline
Intel Core 2 (Merom) Intel 45nm Core 2 (Penryn)

Compatible CPUs
Intel Core 2 Intel 45nm Core 2 Intel 45nm Core 2

AMD Second Generation Opteron AMD Second Generation Opteron (Rev. E/F) AMD Third Generation Opteron

AMD Third Generation Opteron (Barcelona)

AMD Third Generation Opteron

Multiple baselines allow the user to choose:

Greater compatibility (fewer cpu features)
More features (less cpu compatibility)

Additional baselines will be introduced for new CPU generations

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EVC baselines & CPU Models

VMware KB article 1003212 lists specific CPU models and which baselines they support

Intel Core 2

Intel Merom baseline: 73xx (Tigerton), 51xx (Woodcrest)

Intel Penryn baseline: 74xx (Dunnington), 54xx (Harpertown)

Intel Core 2 45nm

AMD 2nd Generation

Opteron Rev E/F baseline: 2yy, 8yy, 22yy, 82yy

Greyhound baseline: 23yy, 83yy

AMD 3rd Generation

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EVC Cluster With Intel Core 2 45nm (Penryn) Baseline

Intel EVC Cluster (Core 2 45nm baseline)

Intel Core 2 45nm CPU

App OS Core 2 45 nm VM

Intel Core 2 CPU
Intel Core 2 45nm CPU

Future Intel CPU

VM cannot migrate to an Intel Core 2 (Merom) based CPU It can migrate to an Intel Core 2 45nm (Penryn) based CPU outside the cluster
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Determine CPU Model

vCenter will display model information for CPUs that already have ESX installed

The E54xx CPUs are Harpertown processors from the Penryn series
For new servers that do not have ESX installed, use some of the freeware utilities such as CPU-Z.

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EVC & CPU Features

EVC does not affect CPU features
Number of cores per CPU. For example, a Greyhound (quad core) CPU does not lose 2 cores when its added to a Rev E/F (dual core) EVC cluster Cache size Hardware virtualization support (VT-x, AMD-V, nested paging)

Clock speed. Thus, EVC does not cause any performance penalties

Worst case scenario from implementing EVC: a VM cannot take advantage of new CPU instructions, e.g. SSE 4.1

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Requirements For EVC

EVC requires ESX 3.5 update 2 or later. EVC requires Intel CPUs with Core 2 micro architecture and newer, e.g.
Merom: 73xx (Tigerton), 51xx (Woodcrest), 53xx (Clovertown) Penryn: 74xx (Dunnington), 54xx (Harpertown)

EVC requires AMD second generation Opteron CPUs and newer, e.g.
Rev E/F: models 1yy, 2yy, 8yy, 12yy, 22yy, 82yy Greyhound: models 13yy, 23yy, 83yy

EVC requires a homogenous cluster; either all Intel or all AMD hosts. Applications on VMs must be well-behaved.
The applications must be written to use the CPUID machine instruction to discover CPU features.

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Enabling EVC On A Cluster (ctd)

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Using EVC
Once EVC is enabled for a cluster:

All hosts already in, or entering the cluster, are automatically configured to match the EVC cluster baseline. VC will not allow hosts to enter the cluster which are not capable of exactly matching the cluster EVC requirements. VMotion will never fail due to CPU incompatibility since all hosts present identical features through EVC baselines .



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EVC Maintains Complete VMotion Compatibility

Intel EVC Cluster (Merom Baseline)


Intel Pentium 4

Cannot add a host with incompatible hardware

All hosts CPUs must be from the same vendor

CPUs must be on par with the cluster baseline or newer

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EVC Maintains Complete VMotion Compatibility (ctd)

Intel EVC Cluster (Core 2 Baseline)

App OS Core 2 45nm VM

Intel Core 2 45nm CPU

Cannot add a host with running VMs

The VM could be using CPU features that are not present in all hosts in the cluster.

Must migrate or power off VMs on the ESX that you wish to add to the cluster.

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EVC Maintains Complete VMotion Compatibility (ctd)

AMD EVC Cluster (Rev E/F Baseline)

ESX 3.0.x
Opteron Rev F CPU

Cannot add a host with incompatible ESX version

Host must have ESX 3.5 update 2 or newer installed

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Troubleshooting EVC
VMware CPUID utility
Bootable CDROM

Reports raw CPUID data and interesting features

Intel processor identification utility

CPU-Z, a freeware utility for displaying CPU features

VMotion Info tool

Displays CPU info of servers in a vCenter deployment

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Troubleshooting EVC
Error: Incompatible CPU: The following hosts have CPUs that do not support EVC. Remove these hosts from the cluster.
What troubleshooting steps would you take to solve this problem?

You have to unmask the CPU features of all the ESX servers. If any of the bits are masked, you cannot enabled EVC.

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Lesson 2-4 Summary

Learn how to enable EVC on a Cluster Learn how to create EVC Baselines Learn how to troubleshoot EVC

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Lesson 2-4 - Lab 4

Module 2-4 Lab 4 VMware vCenter Enhanced vMotion Compatibility
Enable EVC on a Cluster
Checking EVC compatibility EVC settings Troubleshooting EVC

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