The Real (and Virtual) Adventures of Nathan the IT Guy

Jun 12 2013   1:52PM GMT

GPU Passthrough to a VM (Nvidia/Intel/AMD) using VMDirectPath I/O

Nathan Simon Nathan Simon Profile: Nathan Simon

Update October 3rd 2013

In case you are having issues with GPU/USB pass-through you may want to check out this forum post

Original Post

Great article that steps you through configuring a VM to use a Video card via VMDirectPath I/O. Here is a little insert.

Following on from the previous post about a recent white-box VMware ESXi 5.1 build I was hoping to enable GPU pass-through to one of the VM’s. Initially this was to make use of things like Adobe Photoshop via XenApp to aid in GPU rendering, but having played around with Plex I was too tempted to divert the resources to a media based VM to output via HDMI as my existing WDTV Live is feeling a little dated.

First I tried with an old Nvidia Geforce 7300 I had lying around but this appeared a no go, it was detected by the VM but Windows couldn’t seem to start the device driver for it. Reading further it appears AMD cards have the best results for pass-through so I went ahead and purchased an ASUS 7750 1GB DDR5 card for around £75. I opted for the DirectCU model as this is a completely fanless design further aiding in a silent ESXi host. source article

Note that most Nvidia or AMD cards are supported, but it should be a discreet card. This is not the same concept of VMware View 5.2 and a single card hosting multiple VM’s. In this article you are giving the VM direct access to the video card, a one to one relationship.

About VMDirectPath I/O pass-through devices

You can connect up to two passthrough (ESX 4.0) and up to four passthrough (ESX 4.1) devices to a virtual machine. When selecting the devices, keep in mind these restrictions:

VMDirectPath limits in ESXi 5.1

  • VMDirectPath PCI/PCIe devices per host 8
  • VMDirectPath PCI/PCIe devices per virtual machine 4 (6 if 2 of them are teradici devices)

So if you are asking if you can use more than one video card to VM, the answer would be yes…

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