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Issues with Intel XF SR 10gbe and ESXi 4.1

Im having some issues getting my new 10gbe NIC running on my ESXi 4.1 box.  I set the machine up to primarly run openIndiana as a ZFS NAS a couple of years ago.  I recently decided to setup 10gbe between my main two client machines and the server.  When I first installed the card it showed up right away without installing any drivers but said the links were down even though the switch said the link was up.  I rebooted it to check the bios for some settings I saw mentioned in another post and when the server came back up it showed the link as up and I thought I had gotten lucky.  Unfortunately as soon as I try to send any traffic over the connection it immediately drops the link (so it's saying its up but it doesn't actually seem to be functioning).  If I unplug the 1gb cable I immediately lose connection to the  server.

the hardware is fine, I've tested the card and the fiber cables on other machines.  It seems to be a software issue of some kind.

at this point I'm not sure what to try.  Firmware upgrade on the card?  Install the newest drivers for the card on the ESXi box?  Install ESXi 5, 5.5, or 6?

let me know what information might help and I'll post it up.  Thanks!

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