ESXI 6(.5) - OSX with GPU Passthrough

FullMetalJester

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Jan 5, 2017
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So I have been unable to get this to work at all. I'm using a vanilla unmodified macOS Sierra install on a Dell T3500 workstation. I've tried with both 6.0 and 6.5 with the same results. I can boot the machine just fine without the GPU passthrough and/or with passthrough and nv_disable=1 boot flag (no drivers loaded). Once i try to enable the drivers (either with nvda_drv=1) or via the Nvidia System Preferences pane, the machine does the infamous boot loop from the Apple logo (gets about 50% of the way and then reboots). The GPU is an Nvidia Quadro FX580, so it should have no issues with passthrough on ESXI. It worked great in my Server 2012 R2 VM in passthrough so I know the hardware works.

Before I go ahead and install OSX in hackintosh mode (Clover or Chameleon bootloader) is there any way to get this working without a totally rebuild of the VM?

I've read in a few places that macOS Sierra does not read the nvda_drv=1 bootflag to force the driver, but since it doesnt boot all the way i can't tell if its actually loading the driver before it crashes or if its trying to use the Apple driver (which won't work and will cause it to crash)
 

RyC

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Oct 17, 2013
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Where are you passing the boot flags? Just the built in EFI prompt? And how are you booting macOS on ESXi 6.5? Are you using the RC unlocker?

FWIW, there was a change from El Capitan to Sierra that's preventing both AMD and nvidia GPUs from passing through OOB for me. They do passthrough, but are not recognized in System Profiler OOB like they were in El Capitan.
 

FullMetalJester

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Yep used RC Unlocker (latest version 2.0.9?)

booting into OSX recovery mode to access the terminal since you cannot do it from the OS any longer (ie change the boot flags). I suspected Sierra was being a dick about it, looks like I should try again with El Capitan just for shits and giggles. I wonder if it would work with Clover/Chameleon on Sierra, might have to play around a bit.
 

whitey

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Jun 30, 2014
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I have been hearing reports that the Quadro series do not pass-thru well if at all. YMMV I sold my NVIDIA Quadro 4000 GPU as I gave up on getting it to work, heard better reports of AMD/ATI playing 'nicer' but I have not attempted, there's a few threads around here and a few brave souls who have conquered or got further along than I before I threw in the towell and had to get back to 'real work'. :-D
 

RyC

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Oct 17, 2013
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Yep used RC Unlocker (latest version 2.0.9?)

booting into OSX recovery mode to access the terminal since you cannot do it from the OS any longer (ie change the boot flags). I suspected Sierra was being a dick about it, looks like I should try again with El Capitan just for shits and giggles. I wonder if it would work with Clover/Chameleon on Sierra, might have to play around a bit.
Have you found a guide on using Clover to boot Sierra on ESXi? I've seen reports on other forums that "nvda_drv=1" may not work in Sierra anymore.
 

FullMetalJester

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Have you found a guide on using Clover to boot Sierra on ESXi? I've seen reports on other forums that "nvda_drv=1" may not work in Sierra anymore.
I have not but I'm pretty sure once I get the correct settings for the base VM i should be able to use Clover to do the install if I go that route. I'm going to try El Capitan tonight and see if that makes a difference. Otherwise I'll need the EFI bootloader route to force the GPU injection I suspect.
 

FullMetalJester

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Jan 5, 2017
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finally got El Capitan VM setup, same deal seems to hang/crash at about 75% progress on Apple logo. Will try Clover next.
 

ecosse

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Jul 2, 2013
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Stupid question - when you pass through the graphics card how do you normally use it. I want to have my cake and eat it - to be able to use the VM from the vSphere console when out of the house and locally when not. Mirroring displays isn't working properly at the moment.
 

FullMetalJester

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my primary goal of this project is to replace my Mac Pro 1,1 with something far less power hungry. So its primarily going to be used a virtual desktop solution, but I need output to a real monitor for photo editing color matching, etc.
 

ecosse

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Jul 2, 2013
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my primary goal of this project is to replace my Mac Pro 1,1 with something far less power hungry. So its primarily going to be used a virtual desktop solution, but I need output to a real monitor for photo editing color matching, etc.
OK. The trouble I have is that the menu isn't displayed on both screens i.e. I'm looking at the VM from a VMRC session and as the screen is locked the password prompt is on the physical screen?!
 

FullMetalJester

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You may need to force OSX to set the primary monitor via the display properties to get the login to be on the screen you expect
 

ecosse

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You may need to force OSX to set the primary monitor via the display properties to get the login to be on the screen you expect
Arrghh I hope there was some nicer solution :) Of course I can reorder the screens but if I forget before I leave the house I'm stuffed?! :)
 

RyC

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Oct 17, 2013
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You shouldn't have to add the pciHole settings in 6.0 or 6.5 anymore. You may have better luck using the macOS built in VNC server instead of the ESXi console. If you're connecting from another Mac, it'll show every screen. Once you set the GPU screen as primary, it should show that screen over VNC from other clients.
 

ecosse

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Jul 2, 2013
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yes i tried with and without the pciHole settings. If you try the hypervisor option the machine will fail to boot OSX entirely.

Had a quick google, everything I have read says use graphics injection so far... not very helpful but thought I'd look
 

ecosse

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Jul 2, 2013
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You shouldn't have to add the pciHole settings in 6.0 or 6.5 anymore. You may have better luck using the macOS built in VNC server instead of the ESXi console. If you're connecting from another Mac, it'll show every screen. Once you set the GPU screen as primary, it should show that screen over VNC from other clients.
Thanks! I've tried with nomachine a bit but I couldn't get that to work so far - seems always to connect to the VMware display regardless of the default display setting. I'll try VNC later.
 

FullMetalJester

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Quick update, I was able to pickup an HIS HD 5750 (Juniper core) ATI card locally last night and after some minor BS (had to edit esx.conf and force passthrough, it was greyed out in the hardware tab) and needed custom kext for ATI on El Capitan, the card works! I also set the screens to mirror so I could use the console and the monitor at the same time. Havent tested any other functions yet, but seems that the Nvidia cards were just being super bitchy.
 

Kal G

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Oct 29, 2014
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I haven't tried it yet in ESXi 6.5, but in 6.0U3, my Quadro K420 passes through just fine. All I did was install the Nvidia drivers before enabling passthrough.
 

Topstep1

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May 28, 2017
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I haven't tried it yet in ESXi 6.5, but in 6.0U3, my Quadro K420 passes through just fine. All I did was install the Nvidia drivers before enabling passthrough.

Hi, I did it with a Quadro K2200, with the Nvidia Web Drivers installed (and snapshop) BEFORE adding the card.

It comes up in Nvidia Driver Manager, as well as, in Apple Devices.

But, 'About this Mac' show 'Display 128mb' (the vmware driver) and it's also listed along with the K2200, in Apple Devices.

When I select LaunchPad/Other, that Other screen draws from top to bottom, very, very slowly. But I do notice that the login screen shows the Desktop image as a blurred background, instead of no image at all.
I thought that was a sign of the video kicking in. Maybe that also happens with the VMWARE Tools Darwin.iso.

When I attach this same card to a Windows Machine, I see only the Quadro card in Device Manager and not VMWARE sVGA. And it's working with Hardware accelleration (Dxdiag reports all DirectX features enabled

How can I try and fix this?

Shuttle SZ170R8V2
ESXi 6.5
Sierra 12.5
Quadro K2200