Using Intel VMD driver for vSphere to create NVMe RAID1

April 06, 2022

Intel VMD enabled NVMe driver for VMware ESXi with RAID1.

Intel Volume Management Device (VMD) works with the Xeon family of processors to enable additional control and management of NVMe devices. Intel VMD is similar to an HBA controller but for NVMe SSDs. Features such as Hot Plug, LED management, and error handling are some of the features available. The Intel-enabled NVMe driver for vSphere now supports RAID 1 volumes for boot and data.

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The new RAID1 capability allows for a redundant OS providing high availability by providing pre-OS RAID configuration at the OEM platform level. With the optional PCH VMD domain, the boot volume doesn’t consume PCIe lanes. ESXi only sees a single target, the RAID is managed behind the scenes. This functionality can also reduce PSODs while providing a better experience with NVMe. Some of the standardized boot options enabled for VMware deployments include:

  • OEM agnostic
  • Conservation of PCIe lanes for vSphere Datastores or VMware vSAN devices.
  • In-Box OS driver

With the Intel VMD HW built into the Xeon CPUs, no additional HBAs are required. This reduces the risk of unqualified HW or delays in qualified HW.

Requirements:

  • Intel generation 1-4 Intel Xeon Scalable Processors
  • Intel NVMe U.2 SSDs
  • Intel VMD-UEFI drivers loaded into BIOS
  • VMware vSphere 6.7, In-Box 7.0 U3

 

When configuring RAID1 for vSphere there are a few supported options.

  • RAID1 boot volume (ESXi redundant boot). Note only one boot volume is supported.
  • RAID1 data volume with VMD 2.8 driver or newer.

 

Considerations if using with VMware vSAN

  • If you are NOT using vSAN, boot and data volumes can share a VMD Domain.
  • If you are using vSAN, boot volumes must be on separate controllers (VMD Domain) from data volumes.

 

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As the industry continues to move towards NVMe SSDs, having parity with standard SCSI devices or additional features is imperative. With Intel VMD, you are able to enhance your experience when using NVMe SSDs. As you look into newer technologies, make sure you have the options your data center requires for functionality and high availability.

For detailed information and setup details, please see the Intel VMD-Enabled NVMe Driver for VMware ESXi with RAID1 User Guide

 

Additional Resources

 

@jbmassae

 

 

 

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