Is it possible to run OSX 10.8 as a VM, but passthrough the iGPU HD4000 and onboard sound to the VM, and actually hook up a monitor to the ESXi and use the VM as a desktop?
Posted 16 September 2013 - 04:28 AM
Posted 25 January 2014 - 10:56 PM
Hi all, I'd like to add to this thread that I'm having some good success with virtualized OS X Mavericks on a Lenovo Thinkserver TS140 (Haswell) running on a Xeon E3-1225 v3 Quad core processor.
First of all, the just-released ESXi 5.1 U2 appears to resolve the problem with USB controllers becoming de-selected from passthrough each reboot. I believe it still has some problems with USB 3.0 passthrough though, as I'm having some glitchy issues passing through various PCIe USB 3.0 cards to it. More on that later though, since this thread is really about graphics acceleration.
I too have a Mac Mini (2011) I've been using and its Core2Duo and Intel 3000 graphics are just not cutting it for iMovie/FCPX. I picked up this Lenovo for $320 on amazon which I consider quite the steal. The system can take non-ECC memory too so I got it loaded with 4x4GB of non-ECC UDIMMs (the system can take up to 32GB).
Donk's unlocker works wonderfully. Installing OS X was the easiest part. I've had some experience with VT-D/VMDirectPath before so I know it is really hit or miss. I took a chance on a Radeon 7750 card, which was the best I was going to be able to find considering I can't use Nvidia, didn't want to waste a second slot (I only have four on this case/mobo) and the Lenovo power supply is proprietary and only 280W without a video card connection. The 7750 gets all its power via the PCIe bus, takes up only one slot and was fairly cheap so I went with that. Even more importantly it's natively supported in Mavericks without any kext shenanigans--also an important consideration for me.
Passing that through was a cinch. In the mobo BIOS setup I could set the integrated Intel graphics as primary so that ESXi's console still uses it. Then the Radeon along with its HDMI audio device get passed through to OS X. I haven't actually tried the HDMI audio--have no idea if that works or not.
My bigger problem was USB. The Lenovo has 2-front and 4-back onboard SuperSpeed USB 3.0 ports... usually with ESXi you are presented with multiple controllers so you can keep one controller (housing the USB flash drive you're booting ESXi from) dedicated to ESXi and pass through the other. I was able to do this just fine... but for some reason I'm only presented with EHCI controllers to pass through, not the xHCI one(s) I need for USB 3.0 speeds. I haven't figured that one out yet--assume it's either a chipset or ESXi limitation (the onboard SATA controller also doesn't appear in the list of devices able to be passed through).
So I knew I needed to try a PCIe 1x USB 3.0 card. I already had a spare Renesas one. I got that working OK with the GenericxHCI kext, but for "fun" I wanted to try to get this VM running with only the built-in drivers. Now you can easily find the Fresco FL1100 and FL1009-based cards with native support in ML and Mavericks. I first tried the Orico 4-port model (http://www.amazon.co...r/dp/B008V3TH48) but got kernel panics when I passed it thru. I still want to try and see if it works better under ESXi 5.5 but haven't gotten around to that yet.
For grins then I tried the 2-port Orico which uses FL1009. I am having much more success with that. Haven't run any speed tests but it installs great and everything I have tried connecting to it so far has worked (tried a USB 3.0 Optical drive enclosure, USB 3.0 external drive (bus powered) and a Transcend USB 3.0 memory card reader). Also, I've tried a Zalman USB Audio interface I've had kicking around forever. To my surprise and delight it works fine... Haven't tried listening to music or anything but the built-in OS X sounds play great with no crackling or distortion.
However, I'm having this issue now where ESXi is locking hard overnight. It started after I passed through the USB 3.0 card so I'm suspicious that is the reason but haven't done enough testing yet to narrow it down... could have been something I had plugged into the card too so tonight I will try it with nothing plugged in and see if it still hangs. If so then I will try ESXI 5.5 and see if that makes a difference.
For fun today I got out an old Dell SAS 6/ir RAID card (can be had very cheap on ebay), flashed it to the equivalent LSI 1068e card and got it passed through as well. Mavericks picked it up and it shows up as a SAS adapter. I've got a blu-ray writer and a spare SSD hooked up to it. So if in the end I can't get USB 3.0 to be stable then I'll probably just stick with USB 2.0 off the mobo and use the LSI card to connect drives via SATA.
Anyway, circling back to graphics acceleration. I haven't actually tried any tests to see if it's helping. I do know that Final Cut Pro X launched OK which I don't think it would do before the Radeon was passed through. I am confused though because I tried playing an avi using VLC on the display connected to the Radeon and I got a message from VLC "OpenGL acceleration is not supported on your Mac. Your Mac lacks Quartz Extreme acceleration, which is required for video output. It will still work, but much slower and with possibly unexpected results."
The video played it wasn't terribly smooth. So I don't know if this is a VLC problem where it is still trying to use the VMWare video card (even though I had the VLC window on the monitor connected to the Radeon) or if that means that FCPX isn't going to be able to use the Radeon GPU for faster rendering either. I hope that's not the case.
Anyway, just thought I would share my experiences.
Posted 15 February 2014 - 05:54 PM
Following up, I found out that the new Maps app in Mavericks relies on QE/CI so I was able to use that to test things out. Turns out that with any kind of mirroring between the built-in VMWare display and the Radeon QE/CI is disabled (or at least the Maps app wouldn't draw anything). Nor would it do so if the VMWare monitor was the primary (with the menu bar and dock), even if I moved the app over to the Radeon display.
But if I set the Radeon as primary and kept the Maps app on it, QE/CI appeared to work as the Maps app functioned correctly.
Now, playing videos in Quicktime or VLC seemed to chew up the CPU more than I thought it would. But I was also trying this over screen sharing which may have been the culprit there. I will try hooking up a monitor directly to the Radeon and then try a video.
Edit: I also solved my nightly lockup issues by going back to ESXi 5.1 U2. That seems to be the version I'm having the most success with. I've also given up on the Orico USB 3.0 cards. I'm presently using a Renesys with the GenericUSBXHCI.kext and everything seems good.
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