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Recommended disk or LUN sizes for VMware ESX/ESXi installations

Solution

VMware recommends provisioning enough space to satisfy the partitioning requirements outlined in product documentation. The default partitioning layout is sufficient for the majority of deployments, but the information provided below may be used as a baseline for customization.

Notes:
  • The following space requirements outlined are based on the partition tables created by the graphical and text-based installers.
  • Boot-from-SAN configurations require additional consideration with regards to VMFS. For VMware ESX 4.0 and 4.1, which require VMFS, you may format a portion of the boot LUN as VMFS (default), or opt for utilization of a separate storage device formatted as VMFS to store the Console OS.

VMware ESX 3.0.3 and 3.5

VMware ESX 3.x requires a minimum of approximately 8GB.

System Disk Partitions

  • 100MB boot partition
  • 5GB system root partition
  • VMFS partition, if defined, spans the remainder of the disk
  • Extended partition

System Disk Logical Partitions

  • 1GB swap partition
  • 2GB system log partition
  • 110MB VMkernel core dump partition

VMware ESX 4.0 and 4.1

For VMware ESX 4.x, the ESX Console OS is instead situated within a virtual machine disk (.vmdk) file on a VMFS file system. The size of this disk file varies between deployments, based on the size of the logical unit used. A minimum requirement is approximately 8GB.

Notes:
  • The stored Console OS virtual machine disk files may increase in size over the course of a deployment, accommodating for additional log data and files.
  • It can be stored on a SAN LUN or different block device than the system disk, as long as it has been partitioned and formatted as VMFS.
  • The Console OS disk, as a best practice, should not be situated on a shared SAN LUN.

System Disk Partitions

  • 1100MB boot partition
  • 110MB VMkernel core dump partition
  • Extended partition spans the remainder of the disk
  • Logical VMFS partition spanning the remainder of the extended partition

VMFS Partition / Console OS VMDK Partitions

These are partitions that reside within the Console OS VMDK, stored on the formatted VMFS volume:
  • 600MB swap partition
  • 2GB system log partition
  • Extended partition spanning remainder of Console OS .vmdk file
  • 5GB system (root) partition

VMware ESXi 3.5, 4.0, and 4.1 (Installable)

VMware ESXi installations benefit from reduced space and memory requirements due to the omission of the Console OS. It requires approximately 6GB of space without a defined VMFS partition or datastore.

When additional block devices are provided, they may be formatted and utilized as VMFS, or in some cases as additional scratch storage space.

System Disk Partitions

  • 4.2MB FAT boot partition
  • Extended partition
  • 4.3GB FAT partition for scratch storage and swap
  • Remainder of device may be formatted as VMFS

    Note: The minimum size for a VMFS datastore is approximately 1GB.

System Disk Logical Partitions

  • 250MB FAT partition for a hypervisor bootbank
  • 250MB FAT partition for a second hypervisor bootbank
  • 110MB diagnostic partition for VMkernel core dumps
  • 286MB FAT partition for the store partition (VMware Tools, VMware vSphere/Infrastructure Client, core)

VMware ESXi 3.5, 4.0, and 4.1 (Embedded / USB)

Embedded VMware ESXi installations typically utilize approximately 1GB of non-volatile flash media via USB. An additional 4-5GB of space may be defined on local storage for additional scratch storage and swap to be stored.

Persistent logging is not included with embedded ESXi. VMware recommends configuring remote syslog services for troubleshooting or when anticipating technical issues. For additional information, see Enabling syslog on ESXi (1016621).

USB Device Primary Partitions

  • 4.2MB FAT boot partition
  • Extended partition

USB Device Logical Partitions

  • 250MB FAT partition for a hypervisor bootbank
  • 250MB FAT partition for a second hypervisor bootbank
  • 110MB diagnostic partition for VMkernel core dumps
  • 286MB FAT partition for the store partition (VMware Tools, VMware vSphere/Infrastructure Client, core).

Local Disk Partitions (If Present)

  • 4.3GB FAT partition for scratch storage and swap
  • 110MB diagnostic partition for VMkernel core dumps
  • Remainder of device may be formatted as VMFS

    Note: The minimum size for a VMFS datastore is approximately 1GB.
For additional information on these installation requirements, see the respective installation guide for your chosen product in theVMware Documentation pages.

VMware ESXi 5.0 (Installable)

For fresh installations, several new partitions are created for the boot banks, the scratch partition, and the locker. 

Fresh ESXi installations use GUID Partition Tables (GPT) instead of MSDOS-based partitioning. The partition table itself is fixed as part of the binary image, and is written to the disk at the time the system is installed. The ESXi installer leaves the scratch and VMFS partitions blank and ESXi creates them when the host is rebooted for the first time  after installation or upgrade. 

One 4GB VFAT scratch partition is created for system swap. See “About the Scratch Partition,” in the vSphere Installation and Setup Guide.
The VFAT scratch partition is created only on the disk from which the ESXi host is booting. On the other disks, the software creates a VMFS5 partition on each disk, using the  whole disk.  

During ESXi installation, the installer creates a 110MB diagnostic partition for core dumps. The other size recommendations that apply to ESXi 4.x installable are also applicable to ESXi 5.0 installable.

VMware ESXi 5.0 (Embedded/USB)

One 110MB diagnostic partition for core dumps, if this partition is not present on another disk. The other size recommendations that apply to ESXi 4.x embedded are also applicable to ESXi 5.0 embedded.
The VFAT scratch and diagnostic partitions are created only on the disk from which the ESXi host is booting. On other disks, the software creates one VMFS5 partition per blank disk, using the whole disk. Only blank disks are formatted.

In ESXi Embedded, all visible blank internal disks with VMFS are also formatted by default.

vSphere 5.0 supports booting ESXi hosts from the Unified Extensible Firmware Interface (UEFI). With UEFI you can boot systems from hard drives, CD-ROM drives, or USB media.

ESXi can boot from a disk larger than 2TB provided that the system firmware and the firmware on any addin card that you are using support it. See the vendor documentation.

USB key size for ESXi 5.0 embedded is vendor dependent.

Based on VMware KB 1026500

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