The growing list of unsupported CPU’s

VMware has disgruntled some customers by releasing ESXi versions that no longer support some previously-supported CPU’s. I think this is an inevitable change: if the Hypervisor is going to change in some ways then it’s going to have to stop supporting old CPU’s with limited features at some point. Some may argue this is too soon, but you can’t please everyone.

One thing to be clear about is that this is a change for ESXi as a part of vSphere. That is the hypervisor. Not vCenter. vCenter is generally the first thing you upgrade in an environment and you can run an updated vCenter server with backwards compatibility for older versions of ESXi. There are all sorts of reasons you might not upgrade ESXi but you might go ahead and upgrade vCenter, especially with the benefits of the UI upgrades we’ve been seeing of late.

VMware’s language from the release notes is striking and makes me smile a little. Here’s the ominous heading:
Upgrades and Installations Disallowed for Unsupported CPUs 

Under that heading there is a list of unsupported CPU’s right in the release notes, parallel to what you find in the HCL. (VMware is clearly trying to be upfront.) Here are the lists for vSphere 6.5 and 6.7:

vSphere 6.7 (release notes) – CPU’s newly unsupported since 6.5

  • AMD Opteron 13xx Series
  • AMD Opteron 23xx Series
  • AMD Opteron 24xx Series
  • AMD Opteron 41xx Series
  • AMD Opteron 61xx Series
  • AMD Opteron 83xx Series
  • AMD Opteron 84xx Series
  • Intel Core i7-620LE Processor
  • Intel i3/i5 Clarkdale Series
  • Intel Xeon 31xx Series
  • Intel Xeon 33xx Series
  • Intel Xeon 34xx Clarkdale Series
  • Intel Xeon 34xx Lynnfield Series
  • Intel Xeon 35xx Series
  • Intel Xeon 36xx Series
  • Intel Xeon 52xx Series
  • Intel Xeon 54xx Series
  • Intel Xeon 55xx Series
  • Intel Xeon 56xx Series
  • Intel Xeon 65xx Series
  • Intel Xeon 74xx Series
  • Intel Xeon 75xx Series

vSphere 6.5 (release notes) – CPU’s newly unsupported since 6.0

  • Intel Xeon 51xx series
  • Intel Xeon 30xx series
  • Intel core 2 duo 6xxx series
  • Intel Xeon 32xx series
  • Intel core 2 quad 6xxx series
  • Intel Xeon 53xx series
  • Intel Xeon 72xx/73xx series

vSphere 6.0 does not define a list, but points to the age-old hardware compatibility list (HCL). Look up your CPU’s and validate.

The HCL should always be consulted, in every case. If you’re using VMware then you value a resilient infrastructure. Take the time to check your hardware and make sure it’s compatible before you upgrade your hypervisor.



Upgrading to Horizon 7.4

Upgrading VMware Horizon components and the order in which that is done has been significantly improved in the last few years, but at the same time the related VDI components have changed leaving an administrator like me going back to the documentation asking…

how do I go about my upgrade again?”

Thankfully VMware has had their View Upgrades guide published for some time and it’s been updated for VMware Horizon 7.4. This is the go-to document if you’re moving from 5 or 6 with latest patch releases. (It says as much right at the beginning.)

The online documentation:

The PDF: (for those who love trees so much we like to hold them in our hands…)

If you’re moving from View 7.x to 7.4 then there’s another guide that just covers patches that may be a help.

That said, I still like to review the whole scope of what needs touched when there’s a new release. Essentially, I want to know how much has changed in the whole stack of software. Release notes cover it, but I sometimes like to dig into the full documentation to understand more of how things have changed.

From a whole-system upgrade, here’s the basic list from the documentation above:

  1. Back up View Composer & vCenter, halt some tasks per documentation & Upgrade Composer
    (Composer operations go down during an upgrade)
  2. Backup View Connection Server & Upgrade View Connection Server
    (non-reversible, pay attention to special ordered requirements if you’re still using security servers)
  3. Backup Security Servers & Upgrade Security Servers along with each one’s paired Connection Server
  4. Upgrade GPO’s
  5. Upgrade vCenter (if needed), then vSphere
  6. Upgrade the Horizon Agents on RDS servers or Virtual Desktops/Gold Images
  7. Upgrade Horizon Client

3 cheers for 7 easy steps to an upgrade.

But what about App Volumes, UEM, and other components that View works with? There’s a few considerations I’d like to lay out in a future post, but VMware sends you to the newly pluralized “Product Interoperability Matrices” and doesn’t clutter up their documentation with those other products, though it would be nice if there were more to alert that they do have to be considered.

The bottom line is that for 7.4, it’s green lights for other products below at the versions specified:

UEM back to 9.0
AppVolumes back to 2.12.0
Mirage back to 5.8.1
Horizon Clients back to 3.2.0

UAG back to 2.1
IDM back to 2.9.1

NSX back to 6.2.4
vRealize Operations Manager back to 6.3 or vRealize Operations for Horizon only back to 6.5.0 (this should be upgraded at the same time if you’re using it)