As usual, I like to jump right into software upgrades to test out new functionality (on none production systems of-course). With the GA of vSphere7 overnight, I went about upgrading my Homelab vCenter and ESXi host. The vCenter upgrade went well, but I ran into an issue after I upgraded the ESXi Host using the online bundle upgrade.
When the ESXi server booted up, all my VMs where listed as Invalid as shown below.
This was due to to there being no Datastores in the configuration. Which related to the fact that there was no SATA Adapter listed anymore.
I rolled back to last known good configuration and started to do some research on ESXi7 drivers for the SuperMicro SYS-5028D-TN4T and the Intel based Lynx Point AHCI Controller. The VMware Compatibility guide only showed drivers up to ESXi 6.7 Update 3… then it dawned on me!
After having a thing about the driver compatibility, I remembered back to the early days of owning this system, which was around the time ESXi 6.5 was released. Back then we ran into some really interesting performance issues that had to do with the default VMware AHCI Drivers. The fix at the time was to disable the default VMware AHCI drivers and use only the specific Intel ones. Fast forward nearly three years and the default VMware Drivers where still disabled on my system.
So my assumption was that because the Intel Drivers where only compatible up to ESXi 6.7, with the Default VMware drivers disabled, there was no fall back. As William Lam states here, the original performance issue was fixed in Update 1 of 6.5, and suggested to re-enable the Default VMware AHCI driver. After re-enabling the drivers, I rebooted and tried the upgrade again… this time with success and with all the Datastores listed.
Not sure how many people with SuperMicro homelabs have the default VMware AHCI driver disabled anymore, but I know that the initial ESXi 6.5 performance issue caused a lot of headaches at the time, so chances are there are more than a few of you that could be in the same position come time to upgrade to ESXi 7.0… if so… you have the fix!