Identify NIC driver and supported driver version for ESXi server

Lately I troubleshoot some NIC driver problems in VMware ESXi 5.x. During the troubleshooting I needed to Identify the NIC driver, software version used and the latest driver version supported by VMware. Here are the steps outlined.

Identify the NIC driver and software version:

  • Make a SSH connection to the ESXi host
  • Identify all the NIC’s by using the following command: esxcli network nic list

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  • In this example you can see that Intel (igb) and Broadcom (tg3) NICs are used.
  • To identify the driver version of the Broadcom NIC (vmnic0) use the following command: ethtool -i vmnic0

driver: tg3
version: 3.135b.v50.1
firmware-version: FFV7.6.14 bc 5720-v1.31
bus-info: 0000:01:00.0

  • The output list the driver and firmware version. Run the “ethtool” command for all different NICs drivers to obtain the driver version. With the introduction of the new native mode driver, ethtool is no longer supported. Using ethtool with a native drivers results in the following  warning “Can not get control fd: No such file or directory”. The following esxcli command list the driver and firmware version: esxcli network nic get -n vmnic0

 

Identify the latest NIC driver supported by VMware:

  • We need to find the hardware ID’s of the NIC by using the following command: vmkchdev -L | grep “vmnic”

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The hardware ID contains the following parts:

VID = Vendor Id (Red part)
DID = Device Id  (Yellow part)
SVID = Sub-Vendor Id (Green part)
SSID = Sub-Device Id (Blue part)

  • Open the VMware Compatibility Guide (HCL) webpage and choose IO Devices, Link

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  • On the right you see the “Additional Criteria” Colum. Enter the VID, DID, SVID and SSID generated by the “vmkchdev” command

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  • Click the “Update and View Results” button
  • The NIC is displayed, click on the Model

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  • Expand the version of ESXi (release) used. Click on the the Download link (if exist).

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  • Download the driver and use VMware Update Manager (VUM) or use “esxcli software vib update” command to install the driver

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