Hardware Version VMware

Hardware Version VMware

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The hardware version VMware (Virtual Machine Hardware Version) denotes the virtual machine-supported hardware features related to the host server hardware.

Hardware versions count modifications to VMs operating older operating systems. When users from a VM can make a preference of the standard hardware version VMware or a previous version.

Selecting a lower version may indicate reduced functionality. However, the VMware product will not be able to operate a virtual machine with a hardware version higher than the one it supports.

Consequently, Fusion 5.x can only run virtual machines on hardware version 9 and lower; to run VM on hardware version 10, the user will have to use Fusion 6.x.

While new hardware versions of the virtual machine are released regularly with more recent versions of ESXi, VMware suggests not upgrading to newer versions unless there is an absolute need to do so, as new features are required.

VMware KB 1003746 explains the different versions of each ESXi version.

VM hardware upgrade requirements

  • VMware recommends backing up your virtual machine image;
  • If you upgrade the virtual hardware on Microsoft Windows virtual machines before upgrading VMware Tools, the virtual machine may lose its network settings;
  • Verify that all .vmdk files are available for the ESX/ESXi host on the VMFS3, VMFS5, or NFS data store;
  • Verify that virtual machines are stored on VMFS3, VMFS5, or NFS repositories.

Upgrading issues

Upgrading a virtual machine to the latest hardware version is the equivalent of replacing a device on one system with a new one. Its success will depend on the resilience of the guest operating system to hardware changes.

Upgrading to the virtual machine’s hardware version is not recommended unless features are required in the new version. VMware does not recommend upgrading to the virtual hardware version if you do not need the new features exposed by the latest version.

Suppose the Controller VMs (CVMs) run older VMware virtual machine hardware versions (earlier than version 8).

Moreover, the option to reserve all guest memory in the virtual machine settings will not be available. Upgrade the virtual machine hardware to version 13 (qualified with ESXi 6.5) to access that option.

Refer to the table below for a map between the highest available virtual machine HWE and the ESXi versions.

It is recommended to upgrade AOS via 1-click/LCM workflow, so the CVM Virtual Hardware version is adjusted as part of the process starting from AOS 5.5.2 and Foundation 3.7 for new installations.

VM compatibility

VM compatibility determines the match between the VM’s virtual hardware and the host’s physical hardware. Each major version of VMware vSphere also brings a new level of virtual machine (VM) compatibility and recent virtual hardware performance.

Ideally, you can create a new VM with virtual hardware from a lower version than the current one. You may have different versions of ESXi (like 6.0 or 6.5), and you may be ready to run a VM on these hosts one day.

You need to update VMware Tools to the latest version before upgrading VM Virtual Hardware because VMware tools contain drivers for the new virtual hardware.

If you create a VM on a VMware product that supports a given virtual hardware version and then transfer it to a VMware product that does not help this virtual hardware level, it will not turn on.

Determining the VM hardware version on VMware vSphere

VMware vSphere continues to evolve. With each new release of VMware vSphere, a new VM hardware version is introduced, and the number regularly increases approximately every two years.

VM hardware versions supply virtual hardware functions to upgrade VM hardware version. Virtual hardware functions supported on the VMware-ESXi host assist virtual hardware versions in the vCenter Server with a default hardware version.

The hardware version of the VM (Virtual Machine Hardware Version) means the virtual hardware supported by the Virtual Machine (VM), which correlates with the hardware of the ESXi host. Hardware versions usually add new features and enhancements to VMs.

Bear in mind that there is usually a case when you want to upgrade the hardware version of the VM and not upgrade it. But in certain situations, you may need to downsize the hardware version of the VM.

It may be the case when a virtual machine is created on a VMware product that supports a given version of virtual hardware and then migrates to a VMware product that does not help this virtual hardware level and does not turn on.

Critical features of VM hardware version

Virtualization-based security (VBS)

Microsoft VBS is a feature of both Windows 10 and Windows Server 2016. It employs hardware and software virtualization to enhance system security by forming an isolated, specialized subsystem specified to a hypervisor.

Why is VBS important? Even if the malware gets access to the OS kernel, exploitation may be restricted as the Hypervisor may prevent the malware from executing code or accessing the platform’s secrets.

VBS uses the primary guest operating system hypervisor to create this secure virtual mode and enforce restrictions that protect vital system and OS resources.

Microsoft uses Hypervisor as limited memory space, and if you have sensitive information such as credentials, it can store it instead of the OS itself.

With increased VBS protection, if you have a VM configured with VBS, it will use Windows Hypervisor, which will load in front of the guest operating system.

Virtual Trusted Platform Module (vTPM)

vTPM is a virtualized infrastructure that should implement TPM in software as opposed to hardware TPM systems embedded in the actual host hardware.

Naturally, vTPM 2.0 is very similar to physical TPM. The only difference is that it handles cryptographic operations in the software. Instead of storing secrets in a hardware component, it keeps them in an “.nvram” file in the VM home directory and encrypts it.

(NVDIMM) and NVDIMM controller

VMware’s vmx-14 counted a new high-speed storage device that emerged in the server’s ecosystem. These devices are NVDIMM devices. VMs configured with vmx-14 can have 1 NVDIMM controller and 64 NVDIMM devices. VMware took advantage of these devices and introduced persistent memory in vSphere 6.7.


Typically, as with every major release of VMware vSphere, there’s a new virtual hardware version. We already know virtualization’s ultimate space is the VMware Workstation.

VMware uses this desktop virtualization software primarily for testing new virtual hardware versions ahead of time.