Over the last couple of weeks there have been several reports coming in from customers that the local SSD device found in newer Apple Mac Pro 6,1 were no longer being detected by ESXi. Starting with ESXi 5.5 Patch03 and ESXi 6.0, the Apple Mac Pro 6,1 was officially supported but it looks like the latest versions of the Mac Pro 6,1 that are being shipped contain  a slightly different local SSD device which is not recognized by ESXi.

This was not the first time that this has happened, when the 2014 Mac Mini were first released, they too had a similar issue in which a custom VIB was required to get the internal device to get recognized by ESXi. There is an internal bug (PR 1487494) that is currently tracking the issue and if you are also experiencing this problem, please file an SR and have the GSS Engineer attach your case to this bug.

In the meantime, there is an unofficial workaround which was discovered by one of my readers (Mr. Spock) that by installing the community SATA-XACHI VIB over on Andreas Peetz VIB Depot site, both ESXi 5.5 and ESXi 6.0 will then recognize the local SSD Device. You will need to either use VMware Image Builder or Andreas ESXi Customizer tool to create a custom image if you decide to install ESXi directly on the local SSD device. I personally would recommend installing ESXi on USB device, this would allow you to install the VIB as a post-installation and not requiring a custom ESXi image.

12 thoughts on “Heads up: ESXi 5.x & 6.0 unable to detect newer Apple Mac Pro 6,1 local SSD Device

  1. It does work here is the condensed text from powershell on how i did it not at the start in the folder x are all the files you need and can download for free:

    Directory: C:\Users\ladmin\Desktop\x
    Mode LastWriteTime Length Name
    —- ————- —— —-
    -a— 7/27/2015 3:31 PM 6148 .DS_Store
    -a— 6/2/2015 1:45 PM 30966 ESXi-Customizer-PS-v2.4.ps1
    -a— 6/30/2015 8:57 AM 700391769 ESXi600-201507001.zip
    -a— 6/17/2015 8:14 PM 5528 sata-xahci-1.32-1-offline_bundle.zip
    -a— 3/7/2015 1:49 PM 60104240 VMware-PowerCLI-6.0.0-2548067.exe
    1. Install Power CLI !
    2:
    PS C:\Users\ladmin\Desktop\x> .\ESXi-Customizer-PS-v2.4.ps1 -pkgDir .\offline_bundles -izip .\ESXi600-201507001.zip -nsc

    Script to build a customized ESXi installation ISO or Offline bundle using the VMware PowerCLI ImageBuilder snapin
    (Call with -help for instructions)
    Logging to C:\Users\ladmin\AppData\Local\Temp\ESXi-Customizer-PS.log …
    Running with PowerShell version 4.0 and VMware vSphere PowerCLI 6.0 Release 1 build 2548067
    Adding base Offline bundle .\ESXi600-201507001.zip … [OK]
    Getting Imageprofiles, please wait … [OK]
    Using Imageprofile ESXi-6.0.0-20150704001-standard …
    (dated 06/22/2015 05:40:26, AcceptanceLevel: PartnerSupported,
    For more information, see http://kb.vmware.com/kb/2111985.)
    Loading Offline bundles and VIB files from .\offline_bundles …
    Loading C:\Users\ladmin\Desktop\x\offline_bundles\sata-xahci-1.32-1-offline_bundle.zip … [OK]
    Add VIB sata-xahci 1.32-1 [New AcceptanceLevel: CommunitySupported] [OK, added]
    Exporting the Imageprofile to ‘C:\Users\ladmin\Desktop\x\ESXi-6.0.0-20150704001-standard-customized.iso’. Please be patient …
    All done.
    PS C:\Users\ladmin\Desktop\x>

  2. I initially thought this problem was related to Apple firmware, but there does indeed seem to be a hardware difference in the latest Mac Pro 6,1’s that Apple is shipping.

    My older Mac Pro 6,1’s that I purchased last year can install the latest 5.5 and 6.0 just fine and local disk appears as an option during install (though I install to USB like most folks). This is true even after updating the firmware to the latest, so it’s not firmware.

    Despite lspci -vv | grep SATA showing the exact same output for old and new Mac Pro 6,1’s there does indeed seem to be something that changed on the hardware side. I have not scrutinized the full lspci output but just wanted to mention to folks don’t bother trying to back-rev your Mac Pro 6,1 to older firmware as that won’t buy you anything in this case.

    The Andres Peetz vib (linked earlier in William’s article above) works perfectly for me, so that’s what I’ll be using until this gets resolved.

  3. I got a chance to review the lspci and there is in fact an observable difference in the recent Mac Pro 6,1 hardware (compared to those sold on apple.com last year).

    ## Old vs. New
    Samsung PCIe SSD Controller
    Samsung SM951 SSD M.2 Controller

    Here’s the lspci output…

    [MAC PRO 6,1 INITIAL RELEASE]
    # lspci -vv | grep -A1 SATA
    0000:0e:00.0 SATA controller Mass storage controller: Samsung, Inc. Samsung PCIe SSD Controller [vmhba0]
    Class 0106: 144d:1600

    [MAC PRO 6,1 JULY 2015 from apple.com]
    # lspci -vv | grep -A1 SATA
    0000:0e:00.0 SATA controller Mass storage controller: Samsung Electronics Co Ltd SM951 SSD M.2 Controller [vmhba0]
    Class 0106: 144d:a801

    • Which version of ESXi did you get to recognize the OWC drive? I’ve got a MacPro 6,1 trying to run ESXi 6.0U2 on an OWC Aura 2TB drive, but it refuses to recognize the drive. It’s currently running OS X just fine.

  4. I didn’t have any success using the VMware Image Builder but the Andreas ESXi Customizer tool worked perfectly to make a custom image. ESXi 6.0 installed fine with the custom image.

    After a couple reboots, ESXi would not boot and failed with “error loading /state.tgz fatal error 6 (buffer too small)”. Rebooting was not successful. I tried doing an in-place upgrade but it failed as well indicating an issue with the disk. I did a new install and formatted the SSD which is working OK again.

    I am not sure if it was a fluke or an issue with the community SSD ViB.

  5. Same here, SSD won’t work on a new MacPro 6,1. My older MacPro works just fine though. I won’t be applying anything custom or 3rd party since we’re in production and I can’t take risks until vmware fixes that.

    Please keep this post updated!

  6. With ESXi 6 Update 1b, I am still having the issue on a pair of new MacPro 6,1 delivered 1/2016. The BIOS is MP61.0116.B16 and does not recognize the SSD or anything plugged into the USB ports once the installer is loaded into memory. It will boot and load the installer into memory but once it’s loaded, nothing plugged into the USB ports is recognized. I tried 5.5 update 3b and it does recognize the USB on these MacPros but still does not see the SSD. I was able to install on a USB stick with 5.5 update 3b. VMware support was less than helpful suggesting that I check the BIOS for legacy settings and contact Apple…..

    • Strangely enough, using an Apple USB extender cable got me the ability to install 6.0 update 1b but it does not recognize the SSD so that’s still not working.

      • I too was a bit disappointed when I tested seconds after he update was released. I am confident the next update will be the one. Based on past updates, I am speculating the beginning of March we’ll see another update.

  7. I have been running ESXi 6 with a native/embedded driver since January. Around every 3 weeks, the MAC goes offline. I attached a console each time but there was nothing. I have upgraded each release but the problem continues. After the last failure, I connected a monitor and left it attached. It actually had something on the display after the this weekend. I expected a purple crash screen but instead it was a boot failure. Once again, “error loading /state.tgz fatal error 6 (buffer too small)”. It could be the rack mount case causing the reboot or the OR rebooted without a crash. Not sure yet but this problem is pretty consistent. Anyone have any similar experience?

Thanks for the comment!