I've also tryied disabling the onboard NIC (Attansic) and later removing the realtek, only to be sure it's not a NIC compatibility issue, but the problem remains there... so I'm open to any suggestion I'd like to try as much as I can before having to format and reinstall a 32bit linux...
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I was having exactly the same problem.
After very weeks of research, i solve my problem with this 3 parameters on my vmx files:
mainMem.useNamedFile = "FALSE"
sched.mem.pshare.enable = "FALSE"
MemTrimRate = "0"
Than my disk finally stops.
More info on those parameters on http://www.virtualization.info/2005/11/how-to-improve-disk-io-performances.html
Thanks! It did helped a bit, now it won't freeze anymore but it stills writes constantly to disk even when the VM is completely idle and without a virtual disk attached... I tryied using a bootable linux CD or even keeping the VM in the BIOS configuration, and even then it will keep writting to disk every single second (and flush/sync every 10 seconds or so).