VMware ESXi 6.0 Drops Network Connectivity Then Slowly Lockups

Background

DBryWTCxfrerRLKq_500So, a few weeks ago I upgraded all my ESXi hypervisors in my lab to version 6.0. All was working perfectly but an older server started acting up. It is an ASUS RS500-E6/PS4 that was purchased back in 2012 that I have running with two Intel Xeon E5504 2.0GHz processors and 48GB of DDR3 memory. It has 2 x Intel 82574L Gigabit ethernet ports (keep that in mind). It ran fine on version 5.5 without a problem, but all of a sudden after the upgrade to 6.0 it began to exhibit the behavior when a decent network load was placed on it would drop connectivity to VMs then that would follow with the management interface dropping. After it happened I checked the DCUI and it was still up but all options were sluggish. Then after a few minutes the DCUI was completely unresponsive.

The Problem

VMware updated the e1000e driver that is used for various Intel network chipsets in version 6.0. For some reason this new driver does not agree with the 82574L chipset when it is under heavy load. Applying all up to date patches in Update Manager didn’t help the situation. So rather than not be able to use the onboard NICs, a solution had to be found.

My Solution

I found a 3rd party version of the e1000e written by George L. Roman(VMware forums user GLRoman) that was written to include many chipsets and I thought I would give it a shot to see if it would solve my issues. Come to find out, it does. You can find info on it on V-Front.de’s VIBS Depot here.

So here is how I solved my issue:

  1. Download the offline bundle of net-e1000e-3.1.0.2-glr2 from here.
  2. Upload net-e1000e-3.1.0.2-glr2-offline_bundle.zip to a datastore on your esxi host.
  3. Put your host in maintenance mode.
  4. Enable the ESXi shell by following these directions if you haven’t already done so.
  5. Open the ESXi shell
  6. Navigate to the directory on the datastore where the patch file was uploaded to and verify that the file exists:
    # cd /vmfs/volumes/Datastore/DirectoryName
    # ls 

    Where Datastore is the datastore name where the patch file was uploaded to, and DirectoryName is the directory you created on the datastore.

  7. Change Software Acceptance level to Community.
    # esxcli software acceptance set --level=CommunitySupported
  8. Install the VIB
    # esxcli software vib install -d "/vmfs/volumes/Datastore/DirectoryName/net-e1000e-3.1.0.2-glr2-offline_bundle.zip"
  9. Verify that the VIBs are installed on your ESXi host:
    # esxcli software vib list | grep net-e1000e
    net-e1000e 3.1.0.2-glr2 GLRoman CommunitySupported 2015-08-23
  10.  Reboot the ESXi host:
    # reboot
  11. Exit maintenance mode, and enjoy.

Summary

I hope that this helps you with your issue, it’s been working strong for me for weeks now.

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