Hardware VMware vSphere / vCenter Windows 10

10GbE with TRENDnet TEG-10GECTX and VMware Workstation

So there I was…isn’t that the way it usually starts out with these things? My desktop PC is a great beauty. I built her in late 2018 to provide a solid baseline for light development, gaming, and virtualization with VMware Workstation. She has an Intel i9-9900K processor with 64GB of GSkill TridentZ RGB 3200 memory. I have a couple of mirrored 2TB Samsung EVO 860 that I use to host my VMs and a nice 6TB WD Black 7200 rpm drive for archive (and large VM drive storage). However, the on-board NIC for my Gigabyte Z390 Aorus Master motherboard doesn’t support VLANs, which really limits how I expose my Workstation VMs to my network.

So I decided to up the ante and purchase a 10GbE NIC that does support VLANs, Jumbo Frames, and all of the good stuff that my server stack does. This would allow me to off-load some of my critical VMs for updates and such. vCenter is a pain to work around when upgrading hosts and only 1 can really support it. After doing some research, I decided on the TRENDnet TEG-10GECTX. This card support Jumbo Frames up to 16K, 802.1Q VLAN tagging, and has a RJ-45 port (which is good given the distance between my desktop and my rack).

This is kind of the idea that I had for the setup. The 1GbE port on the motherboard would connect to my switch as it usually does. I want all my normal traffic going this route. I want the 10GbE port exposed to the VMs hosted by VMware Workstation though. I don’t need or want the host to use this card at all for the time being.

Now, it took a bit to try and figure out once I got the card installed, driver installed and the system rebooted. Good news is that the card was recognized by the Ubiquity switch and they negotiated 10Gbps speed right away. The TRENDnet card doesn’t have any utilities to manage the card. You use the standard Windows 10 Control Panel to adjust the adapter settings. With that, here are my adapters:

Ethernet 2 is the new TRENDnet card. It’s recognized as an Aquantia AQtion card. To enable Jumbo Frames on the card (not a default setting), right-click on the adapter and select “Properties”. From there, choose the “Advanced” tab:

Since I will be using this card with my NSX-T environment, I need to have at least a 1700 byte frame size supported. Select the value you need for your environment as shown here. The next bit is to configure the VLANs. Scroll down the list until you see “VLAN ID”. The value of “0” for the VLAN ID is sufficient. I have the port on the switch trunked to pass all of the appropriate VLANs for the embedded ESXi host.

I thought that would be it. Nope. I could only get the ESXi host to be recognized if I set a “Native VLAN” on the Switch Port Configuration in the Ubiquity UI. It wasn’t recognizing the other VLANs in the trunk. I scrolled down one item to “VLAN Monitor mode”. Not a lot of documentation on this, but it was disabled by default. I changed it to “Enabled” as shown here:

Sure enough, the vMotion VLAN started to be recognized by my system. I got rid of the native VLAN on the switch port config and set the ESXi host to use the Management VLAN for it’s management port. Everything just started working!

Now, how to isolate the card from the host. This was a Google search to find, but I found a reference that said a way to isolate the card from the host was to simply uncheck both the IPv4 and IPv6 addressing option on the adapter properties as shown here:

You will get a warning that the host will be unable to communicate via the card, which is ok to ignore. That’s what we want. However, it’s important to ensure you don’t uncheck the “VMware Bridge Protocol” option. That is what we need for the VMware Workstation VMs to use the card.

Ok, to configure VMware Workstation to use the card, open up the “Virtual Network Editor” app. You will want to either run this as an Administrator or click the “Change Settings” button in the lower right hand corner once it opens. You will need administrative rights to add a new VMnet network.

Once you have the ability to click the “Add Network…” button, add a new custom network. It doesn’t matter which network you choose. Since I want to have the option of using my host adapter, I don’t want to mess with any of the existing connections. Click “OK” to create the new network.

Select the new network and change the VMnet information to be “Bridged” and use the new Aquantia network adapter as shown here. No further configuration is needed.

Click “OK” to save the network settings. You’re now ready to connect your VMware Workstation VMs to the new adapter. Open the properties for the VM you want to change and select the new “Custom” adapter (VMnet2 in our case):

That’s it. The new VM is communicating with the network using the trunked adapter. This works really well for an embedded ESXi host that can be added to vCenter.

What did you think? Have you been struggling with adding a second network card in your system? Did this help answer your question or solve your problem? Let me know!

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