So this is something that has caused me about a week of frustration all to get fixed in about 5 minutes of re-reading the same posts over and over again. The Googles were short on answers here, and to be honest, I still don’t understand why this works the way it does. If you have any explanations, I would love to hear them!
I purchased a QNAP QNA-T310G1S Thunderbolt 3 to 10GbE Adaptor, Single-Port Thunderbolt 3 to Single-Port 10GbE SFP+ to take advantage of that sweet Thunderbolt 3 port on the 10th Gen NUC. This version uses a SFP+ port rather than an RJ-45 and is silent sitting next to the NUC. I’ve connected it to my Ubiquity 16 XG switch via a DAC and it now provides a full 10GbE connection with 9K Jumbo Frame support! I had previously had issues with the USB 1GbE adapters supporting anything much above 1700 bits.
This device uses the Marvel/Aquantia ESXi driver. There is a VMware Certified driver available for download here. As of this writing, the latest version is 188.8.131.52 dated 24 Apr 2020. Although the driver is listed for vSphere 6.7, it will work for vSphere 7.0 and 7.0U1 as well. Using this “native” driver enables you to keep your “Host Image Profile Acceptance Level” at “Partner Supported” rather than “Community Supported.” In my prior life, this was a security requirement for our ESXi servers. The driver will also not cause issues with Secure Boot since it’s signed by VMware.
You will need to enable SSH on the ESXi server to install and have the Offline Bundle uploaded to a datastore already mounted on the host. Once the service is started, log in as root and install the driver using the following command:
[[email protected]: ~] esxcli software vib install -d <path to driver>\MRVL-Atlantic-Driver-Bundle_184.108.40.206-1OEM.6220.127.116.1169922-offline-bundle-16081713.zip
After installation, you will need to reboot the host. This is where things started going squirrely for me. In my case, there were no issues with the reboot process. However, when I logged into the ESXi host via the web, the new 10GbE interface was not showing. I enabled SSH to log back into the host and see what I could find using commands listed on the various forums. First, I wanted to grab the version of ESXi I’m running to help document my configuration:
The next step was to list the available NICs seen by the server. This list mirrors what was shown in the web interface:
[[email protected]:~] esxcli network nic list
I also grabbed the list of installed packages to ensure the driver WAS actually installed using the following command:
[[email protected]:~] esxcli software vib list
The Marvel driver (“atlantic”) was listed at the top of the list. The next was to see the list of seen PCI devices. If everything was going well, the QNA-T310G1S should be listed here. It wasn’t.
[[email protected]:~] lspci
I started reviewing whatever I could find online, which admittedly wasn’t a whole lot. I did end up reloading the server with Windows 10 temporarily so I could update the BIOS on the NUC to the latest (Version 47) as well as update the firmware on the QNAP adapter to version 3.1.109. I was running a stock firmware on the QNA device and didn’t know if that was my issue. I am using a DAC cable to connect the device to my Ubiquity switch and I swapped the cable with a known-good cable connecting my two switches together.
I verified the various BIOS settings (Thunderbolt Support enabled, Thunderbolt Security Level set to Legacy Mode) and nothing worked:
Going back to the posting by William Lam, I noticed he had also checked the Boot Devices setting for booting off of the Thunderbolt port. I looked in the Boot Priority menu and found the following setting:
I checked this block and rebooted the NUC. Sure enough, ESXi started to see the new NIC as vmnic1:
After a (not so) quick “Happy Dance” I grabbed a bunch of screenshots, posted a thanks to William’s blog, and set to documenting my frustration here. I know there’s not a lot of documentation on the 10th Gen NUCs and the QNA-T310G1S, so I figured I’d help out where I can. If you’re struggling to get this working, I hope this helps you out. If not, share your story and maybe together we can work it out.