VMware Workstation 10.0 – Hardware Compatibility 10 and vSphere support

VMW-BXSHT-WORK10With the update of VMware Workstation to version 10.0 on September 3rd, we gained some really amazing features including the latest guest OS support (Windows 8.1, Windows Server 2012 R2, Ubuntu 13.10) and a plethora of other amazing features for collaborative VM sharing. Really great stuff!

But when many people start up the new version and kick off a new VM build, they are presented with the option for guest hardware version. With the previous builds, we saw this dialog indicating the options for Hardware Version 9:

As you can see from the Compatible products section, there is support for ESXi 5.1, Fusion 5.0, Fusion 6.0, Workstation 10.0 and Workstation 9.0. (NOTE: You will not see the 10.0 option if you ran from Workstation 9.0).

Now let’s change the drop down to select Workstation 10.0 hardware compatibility:

Hmmm…that’s weird. What happened to the vSphere support in the list under compatible products? As you can see, there are only two options which are Fusion 6.0 and Workstation 10.0 because they are the latest versions available at the time of this writing. There is a hidden treasure in here though.

First, let’s take a look at what hardware compatibility version 10.0 is.

Hardware Compatibility 10

This is one of the really slick enhancements that has come with the new version of VMware Fusion 6.0 and VMware Workstation 10.0 that allows for support of VM guests with significantly larger limits including:

  • 16 vCPUs
  • 64 GB of RAM
  • 8 TB disks (no seriously, 8 TB)
  • Virtual SATA Disk Controller
  • USB 3 additional support
  • 10 virtual NICs (plus 20 VM networks on the host)
  • SSD pass-through

VMware, I see what you did there…

vSphere 5.5 Goodness

The hidden treasure that I mentioned earlier is that the Workstation 10.0 hardware compatibility is able to create a machine that can be ported to vSphere 5.5 which is noted in the release notes at the VMware site. I’m guessing that it may get added to the list in a future point release of VMware Workstation, but you can rest assured that it works. Now all we have to do is get vSphere 5.5 released 😉

The wording on the compatibility and hardware version are still a little confusing, and as @ChrisWahl noted in his article (http://wahlnetwork.com/2013/08/26/vsphere-5-5-improvements-part-1-the-new-hotness-in-esxi-5-5/) the naming has changed for guest hardware:

Virtual Machine Compatibility ESXi 5.5

You heard it right. The term “virtual hardware version” was officially dead as of vSphere 5.1, but not many folks noticed. With vSphere 5.5, the latest compatibility is “ESXi 5.5″ – this roughly equals virtual hardware version 10.

So when you talk about VM compatibility and hardware versions you have to be careful what you search on because you may get mixed results. It’s seems like a lot of semantics, but as more of the manuals and online materials get updated the new naming will come through.

Here is the full release notes for VMware Workstation 10.0: http://www.vmware.com/support/ws10/doc/workstation-10-release-notes.html

Happy virtualizing!


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