vRAM licensing remains for VMware vSphere Hypervisor 5.1

UPDATE: After I published this post I got a response from VMware stating there was an error on their website. The free hypervisor is limited to 32GB physical RAM, there is no longer a vRAM limit. Their website originally reported 32GB vRAM and 32GB physical limit. This has now changed to “For vSphere Hypervisor 5.1, there is no vRAM restriction.” but there also is no longer a mention of the 32GB physical limit. I reported this and hope they will add that back again.

UPDATE 2: Well this post is becoming a mess :-) Official reply from the VMware team and the one and final answer:
“There is no vRAM in vSphere 5/5.1, including the free vSphere Hypervisor. If a host licensed with vSphere Hypervisor has more than 32GB of physical RAM it will error when applying the license or on boot. Before the vSphere Hypervisor license is applied, it will be running in 60-day evaluation mode (functionally equivalent to Ent+).  So in the case of a host with more than 32GB of physical RAM, when assigning the vSphere Hypervisor license fails the host will remain in the evaluation mode. If they do want to proceed they either need to find a box with 32 or less or go into the BIOS of the offending machine and turn off the additional RAM.”

When VMware announced the new vSphere 5.1 release at VMworld this week, they also announced the removal of the vRAM licensing and  any core limitations. There was no mention though about the VMware vSphere Hypervisor 5.1, the Free edition. The website for vSphere 5.1 was quickly updated with all new licensing models for all the vSphere editions and the new vCloud Suite. On the vSphere Hypervisor page I couldn’t figure out if this was already updated or not, because it reads:

How much vRAM does a VMware vSphere Hypervisor license provide?
vSphere Hypervisor license provides a vRAM entitlement of 32GB per server, regardless of the number of physical processors. vSphere Hypervisor can be used on servers with maximum physical RAM capacity of 32GB.

Yesterday I asked a VMware employee about these limits for 5.1 and today I received an answer by e-mail from Mike Adams, Group Product Marketing Manager, vSphere . The above statement is still true for the vSphere Hypervisor 5.1 version, a 32GB vRAM and 32GB physical maximum. Is that bad? In some situations you might run into these limits, but remember why VMware is making the vSphere Hypervisor available for free:

VMware vSphere Hypervisor is available at no cost in order to help companies of all sizes experience the basic benefits of virtualization.

Did you know the VMware vSphere Essentials kit is available for just $495 and grants you a license to run 3 hosts of up to 2 CPUs managed by vCenter.

EDIT: I got some questions on twitter on how hard this 32GB physical RAM limit is and if a host with 48GB RAM would for example only see address 32GB by the vmkernel. But this is not true. Your host simply can not have more than 32GB physical RAM present.

24 thoughts on “vRAM licensing remains for VMware vSphere Hypervisor 5.1

  1. Too bad, we will have to wait (or hope) till vSphere 6 then for an increase of the vRAM limit for the free vSphere Hypervisor. Whitebox servers are capable of having 32GB and more nowadays at very low cost. If companies need VMware with a lot of memory, the Essentials Kit is the way to go.

  2. Hi Joe, you are correct. Just got an e-mail from VMware in which they confirm that there is NO vRAM limit only a 32GB physical limit. The website wasn’t updated yet. Now, you just saw the updated version of the website and there is something wrong again, since now there is no longer a mention of the 32GB physical limit :-) I will e-mail them again to correct that.

  3. “Your host simply can not have more than 32GB physical RAM present.”
    What do you mean by this? Does it refuse to boot?

  4. Hi. My GUESS, since this is how VMware normally enforces licensing, is that you simply cannot power on VMs when the host has more than 32GB physical RAM. Unless you enter a different license.

  5. “The new vSphere licensing model for both vSphere 5.0 and 5.1, continues to be based on processor licenses. It eliminates the restrictive physical entitlements of CPU cores and physical RAM per server and has no limitation on the number of VMs or amount of virtual memory (vRAM) on each licensed processor.”


  6. So does this mean that 5.1 allows having more than 1 physical CPU e.g. dual lga boards, but has a physical RAM limit of 64GB?

    Also, another curious question… in cases of > 32GB physical RAM, what stops someone from install just 5.0 version of hypervisor.. which had a soft limit instead of hard limit?

  7. As far as I can see, there is no limit on CPU. There is a limit of 32GB TOTAL physical RAM, not sure how you came up with the 64GB??? The license will stop you from upgrading. ESXi will detect the free license, see more than 32GB physical and will stop using the free license

  8. Sorry, that 64GB was a typo.. i meant 32GB.

    If someone has >32GB physical RAM, then can one install just 5.0 version of hypervisor, instead of 5.1… which had a soft limited instead of hard limit?

  9. So, version 5.0 did not have the physical 32GB ram limitation?
    someone can confirm this?
    if not the other option or only optin will be pay the kit version for $495 ?

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