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.