I began building up a new lab environment with a few old DL380 G3 servers (courtesy of ebay) and pulled down the latest ISO of ESX 3.5 with Update 3 integrated. The install went well with my only changes to the defaults being some partitioning changes (I more or less follow the recommendations set forth by Rich at VM/ETC for partitioning) and not checking the option for creating a default network for virtual machines – I prefer to set up all my networking manually once I am in the VI client. I selected the first on-board NIC for my Service Console connection. The NIC was detected as a BCM5703, but the server really has the Broadcom NC7781 chipset. I thought it odd, but continued with the install. After ESX came up the SC had no network connectivity. The NIC’s appeared but the drivers and TCP/IP stack could not be initialized against them. I was able to reproduce the same behavior on two different DL380 G3’s.
A quick Google indicated some issues with the DL380 G3 and ESX (enabling hyperthreading causes performance problems, incorrect ACPI configuration in BIOS can cause system instability, etc.). The NIC firmware was out of date. Updated NIC firmware yielded the same problems on a re-install. I didn’t have much time to troubleshoot the issue as I was trying to stage a demo of NetApp’s SnapManager for Virtual Infrastrucuture, so I reinstalled using an ESX 3.5.0 disk. The install went fine with no network connectivity issues. I was able to patch the installation to Update 3 using Update Manager without problems.
I don’t want to shoot from the hip, but I suspect the problems may be related to the updated support for Broadcom NIC’s as described in the ESX Update 3 Release Notes. I’ll try to troubleshoot this out as time allows and will post an update if I uncover anything of great interest. Or better yet, maybe I’ll start looking around for some better hardware for the lab. Leave a comment if you have had a similar issue.