VMware vSphere 6.0 – What’s New:

by Andrew Lancaster, Systems Engineer at Computelec

Now that VMware vSphere 6 has been released I’m sure some of you may be thinking you should go download and install it over lunch, so over the next few weeks and months I’ll be going through the new features of vSphere 6.0 to help you be more informed about making the move.


Let’s start with the enhancements in Compute by comparing the features in vSphere 5.5 and vSphere 6.0:

Feature vSphere 5.5 vSphere 6.0
Cluster Nodes 32 64
Max CPU’s per ESXi Host 320 480
Max Memory per ESXi Host 4 TB 12 TB
Max vCPU per VM 64 128
Max vCPU per Fault Tolerant (FT) VM 1 4
Max Memory per VM 1 TB 4 TB
Graphics Support 3D Hardware
Graphics Acceleration

Instant Clone

A new feature introduced in vSphere 6 goes by the exciting name of “instant clone” which can clone up to 10x faster than in previous versions. This new feature will only really be useful in conjunction with VDI and not for day to day VM’s.

If you’re wondering how you can get it, despite the rumours that all new features will only be available in the vSphere Web client, it actually appears to be available only via the API.


Fault Tolerance – is it finally useful?

While the increases in max nodes, CPU and RAM have gone up significantly, most schools are never going to use that much on a single VM or exceed the number of cluster nodes. Where it gets really exciting is the increase to the maximum FT vCPU’s. Having been previously limited to one vCPU it was often impractical to use FT at all. Now with the increase to 4 vCPU and 64GB RAM we can finally make things like TASS, Synergetic or any LMS far more resilient.

VMware have also made improvements in storage in regards to FT VM’s. Where previously you could only use Eager Zeroed Thick volumes you can now use Thick Lazy Zero and Thin. Improvements have also been made in regards to storage redundancy for FT VM’s. vSphere 5.5 used the same VMDK file for both the primary and secondary VM. vSphere 6.0 now enables you to have separate VMDK files for the primary and secondary VM’s and they can be placed on separate datastores. This means that you can not only withstand a host failing but the storage as well. A very exciting feature for those who have an active/passive or active/active scenario.


Who’s ready for VDI?

Previous versions of vSphere offered a trade-off of extremes. For example, using virtual Shared Graphics Acceleration vSGA allows a GPU to be shared across many users, but it limits performance. An alternative is to use virtual Dedicated Graphics Acceleration (vDGA) which allows for a GPU to be mapped to a single user. This greatly increases performance but is quite expensive and doesn’t scale well.

Finally there is now a solution that covers the middle ground. vSphere 6.0 has added the ability to virtualise the GPU. By combining an NVIDIA GRID K1 card and VMware Horizon you can have up to 32 virtual desktop on one card. This scenario shares the GPU’s across multiple end users while still supporting specialised software with official NVIDIA drivers. This results in drastic reductions in your CapEx.

NVIDIA GRID vGPU explained:

VMware Horizon with NVIDIA GRID vGPU:

Want to know more about VMware vSphere 6.0? Stay tuned, there are more posts to follow that will cover storage, network, availability and Management.


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