Intel just started shipping their i3 7th Gen (Kaby Lake) Intel NUCs and no surprise, Florian of virten.net has already gotten his hands on a unit for testing. The Intel NUCs is a very popular platform for running vSphere/vSAN-based home labs, especially for their price point and footprint. Last week, Florian discovered from his testing that the built-in network adapter on the 7th Gen NUC was not being detected by any of the ESXi installers and had published his findings here.
Since the Intel NUC is not an officially supported platform for ESXi, it does not surprise me that these sort of things happen, even if the NUC had a pretty good track record going back to the 5th Gen releases. Nonetheless, I reached out to Florian to see if he can provide me with a vm-support bundle and see if there was anything I could do to help.
A couple of Engineers took a look and quickly identified the issue with the Kabylake NIC (8086:15d8) but before getting to the solution, I did want to clarify something. The Kabylake NIC is actually NOT an officially supported NIC for ESXi and although it currently shows up in the VMware HCL, it is a mistake. I have been told the VMware HCL will be updated shortly to reflect this, apologies for any confusion that this may have caused.
Ok, so the great news is that we do have a solution for getting ESXi to recognize the built-in NIC on the 7th Gen Intel NUCs. The semi-bad news is that we currently do not have a solution in the short term for any released version of ESXi, as the fix will require an updated version of the e1000e Native Driver which will only be available in a future update of ESXi. I can not provide any timelines, but keep an eye on this blog and I will publish more details once they are available.
In the meantime, if you already own a 7th Gen NUC, there is a workaround which Florian has already blogged about here which uses the USB Ethernet Adapter VIB for the initial ESXi installation. If you are planning to purchase the 7th Gen NUC and would like to wait for folks to confirm the fix, then I would recommend holding off or potentially looking at the 6th Gen if you can not wait. Thanks to Florian and others who shared their experiences with the 7th Gen NUC and also to the VMware Engineers who found a quick resolution to the problem.
UPDATE (07/27/17) - The updated e1000e Native Driver that was included in ESXi 6.0 Update 3 is now included in ESXi 6.5 Update 1 which just GA'ed. You should be able to install ESXi without require any additional modifications to the latest Intel NUCs.
UPDATE (02/24/17) - An updated e1000e driver which contains a fix for 7th Gen NUC is now available as part of ESXi 6.0 Update 3, below are several options in how you can consume the driver.