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Any number of factors can affect how or whether a motherboard component is detected. A manufacturing change, different bios levels etc. You may still be able to make it work but it will take some digging. I would spend some time on the http://vm-help.com site and forums. The site is dedicated to supporting unsupported hardware.
You'll want to use esxcfg-nics -l. What's the PCI id for the NIC and is the driver loaded for it (run lspci -p at the console)?
I think I made a foolish error: I was running esxcfg-nic-l instead of esxcfg-nics -l . I will try this command on Monday morning.
The PCI id is 00:19.00
The driver is e1000e
Speed is 0 Mbps
Description is Intel Corporation 82567V-2
The relevant line in the lspci -p output is:00:25.00 8086:10ce 8086:0024 10/ 10/0x21 A V e1000e vmnic0
Do you need me to type the whole output up or is that line sufficient?
I think I stumbled across the solution myself:
It seems that my motherboard shipped with VT and VT-d disabled in the BIOS.
Enabling both seemed to work an I can now get an IP address and connect to my install via vSphere.
It seems I have the same problem.
In Intel site - the onboad NIC is defined as 82567V. The installation process of ESX 4.0 recognize the NIC, but stays disconnected also when everything is connected allright.
The problem is - I can't find a BIOS option to enable/disable VT or any virtualization technology.