aventuracu
Contributor
Contributor

Do I need a Vt-d Capable motherboard/cpu for VCP5 exam home lab?

Planning on taking the vmware training  VMware vSphere: Install, Configure, Manage so I am building my own lab at home- all nested vms....   In order to prepare for the VCP exam do I need to have a motherboard/CPU combo that supports VT-D? Is this feature part of the exam objectives for VCP? Can I play with all of the features of vsphere and pass the exam without a VT-D caplable board as part of my home lab? What am I missing out on?


Thanks in advance!


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13 Replies
VRBitman
Hot Shot
Hot Shot

Hi, no you do not need one at all costs. Personally I use the ASUS P8P67 Deluxe with an Intel 2600K, a combination which does not support VT-D, and I have been able to create a complete test lab with nested VMs. I haven't enabled / used every single possible feature of vSphere in my lab, but I have used most of them and never encountered any issue.

As regards exam objectives, the questions don't go very in-depth on these CPU features; any study guide provides you with pretty much all the information you need to know. * SEE MY SECOND POST BELOW*

EDIT: of course, if you are building a new machine rather than using whatever computer you may currently have, do take a look at consumer-level VT-D hardware. Also take a look at server-class hardware, it is possible to find cheap components on ebay. In this thread, one user posted some really detailed information on prices and products.

-- VR Bitman | http://virtualis.info | vSphere 5.5 Guide: http://goo.gl/QUqTH7 VMware professional, virtualization & FOSS evangelist, informatician, geek VCA-Cloud, VCA-WM, VCA-DCV, VCP-DCV
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aventuracu
Contributor
Contributor

thanks for your response. The issue is that i've read that I wont be able to play with fault tolerance, HA, Vmotion, etc. If I do not have a vt-d capable board. Wondering how much truth there is to that statement and if it will be sufficient to pass the VCP

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VRBitman
Hot Shot
Hot Shot

HA, DRS, vMotion etc. all work just fine in my lab (I have a Windows 8.1 computer with 2 ESXi hosts virtualized via VMware Workstation).

However, I performed some further inspection on my system. I checked my BIOS and there is a menu item simply called "Intel Virtualization Technology" and it is enabled by default.

Both ASUS and Intel stated in the past that hardware virtualization is not supported on P67 chipsets and certainly not with K-series processors, but it seems that VT-x works and is passed through to my virtual ESXi hosts anyway.

At this point I assume that proper support was introduced quietly with a BIOS update. I having been updating my motherboard's BIOS from time to time ever since I bought it.

It did seem weird to me that everything was working just fine, and that ESXi never even showed a warning during installation.

Anyway to summarize: YES, you do need hardware virtualization. FT and 64bit VMs are not supported without it. (HA, DRS, vMotion should still work).

For the VCP exam.. it's a bit hard to say. It is possible to get hit hard with questions on a particular subject such as FT, so it might be best to aim for a "complete" lab so that you can practice everything.

Good luck.

-- VR Bitman | http://virtualis.info | vSphere 5.5 Guide: http://goo.gl/QUqTH7 VMware professional, virtualization & FOSS evangelist, informatician, geek VCA-Cloud, VCA-WM, VCA-DCV, VCP-DCV
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Chakraem
Enthusiast
Enthusiast

What is your Current H/W configuration that you own, lemme know including free slots and any additional h/w u own !

VCP-Cloud, VCP5-DCV, VCA-Cloud, VCA-WM & VCA-DCV
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aventuracu
Contributor
Contributor

Thanks for your response vrbitman,

Which motherboard do you have? I think only vt-x is needed for 64 bit vms. Im not worried about that because most mother boards and intel processors have vt-x support. What I am worried about is putting together a home lab on a non vt-d motherboard/cpu and not being able to follow along the official vmware course towards vcp certification.

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aventuracu
Contributor
Contributor

so far all that I have is  an intel i7 4770k and a MSI z97 gaming 5 motherboard.(vt-x support only)

I thought about returning both of these items for a intel i7 4790 cpu and asrock z87 extreme4(vt-d and vt-x) support but i am having a difficult time get ahold of this motherboard with my budget

if i dont need VT-D features for the VCP and vmware course i'd rather stay with my 4770k and msi motherboard.

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I run VCAP Test Track with a replica of the VCAP5-DCA (DCA510) environment on a 4-year-old Lenovo W510 i7 920 w/ 16GB of RAM.  No VT-d.

vMotion works just fine.

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Chakraem
Enthusiast
Enthusiast

Holy Cow, You got an awesome configuration already and just make sure u get 32 GB Memory Speed or Latency doesn't matter just 32 GB RAM  U can simulate almost all the features of Enterprise plus in an AD environment with 3 ESXi host or even more\. u can even simulate VCAP env with config

VT-x & EPT is more desired than VT-d so instead getting a new cpu or board go for SSD like Samsung EVO 128 GB which can save lot of wait times and helpful in emulating lot of Server side caching features

VCP-Cloud, VCP5-DCV, VCA-Cloud, VCA-WM & VCA-DCV
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aventuracu
Contributor
Contributor

what about everything else? fault tolerance, HA, etc? so I absolutely do not need VT-D to successfully complete the exam track?

Thanks for all of your response thus far!

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aventuracu
Contributor
Contributor

your processor does seem like it includes vt-d

ARK | Intel® Core™ i7-920XM Processor Extreme Edition (8M Cache, 2.00 GHz)

Where do I get the information to create a replica of the environment that you are labing on. It would help immensely in my studies.

Thanks.

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VRBitman
Hot Shot
Hot Shot

aventuracu, I see what you're asking. In the beginning I was thinking you probably refer to the usual CPU features in general (VT-x) because nobody usually worries about VT-D.

But I understand now that you wanted to know if VT-D in particular is going to be a problem.

Like Chakraem and JoshuaAndrews said, I can also confirm that you shouldn't worry about VT-D. My motherboard (ASUS P8P67 Deluxe) also does not support VT-D and vMotion,HA,DRS, etc. all work perfectly in my virtual lab. VT-x/EPT (or AMD-V/RVI) is really all that you should make sure you have (and as you said most motherboards have support out of the box).

VMware's documentation is also clear; what you get with VT-D is esentially a performance improvement for certain workloads, you will not miss out on important functionality:

"

vSphere DirectPath I/O leverages Intel VT-d and AMD-Vi hardware support (described in

“Hardware-Assisted I/O MMU Virtualization (VT-d and AMD-Vi)” on page 10) to allow guest operating

systems to directly access hardware devices.

"

"

Typical virtual machines and their workloads don't require the use of DirectPath I/O. For workloads that are

very networking intensive and don't need the core virtualization features mentioned above, however,

DirectPath I/O might be useful to reduce CPU usage.

"

http://www.vmware.com/pdf/Perf_Best_Practices_vSphere5.1.pdf  (chapter 2 page 35)

Further, I have recently purchased a copy Brian Atkinson's excellent VCP550 Study Guide and I have not seen any mention of VT-D in it. But the guide does explicitly mention you need to enable Intel VT-x (or AMD-RVI) for Fault Tolerance and 64bit VMs.
Without VT-D you're only missing out an a potential performance increase.

-- VR Bitman | http://virtualis.info | vSphere 5.5 Guide: http://goo.gl/QUqTH7 VMware professional, virtualization & FOSS evangelist, informatician, geek VCA-Cloud, VCA-WM, VCA-DCV, VCP-DCV
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aventuracu
Contributor
Contributor

Where do I get the information to create a replicaof the VCAP5-DCA (DCA510) environment. It would help immensely in my studies.

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http://sostechblog.com/2014/01/14/building-a-vcap-live-exam-test-environment/

http://sostechblog.com/2014/02/07/vcap-test-track-lab-on-a-lap/

Let me know if you want specifics like IP scheme/naming convention of if you want to RDP into Test Track to take a look.

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