CPU microcode update needed to fix VM crashes with certain Intel Xeon E5/E7 v2 processors

In their recently released KB2073791 article VMware describes an issue that affects ESXi 5.x installations on hosts with an Intel E5 v2 series processor: VMs running Windows 2008 R2 or Solaris 10 (64bit) experience random blue screens resp. kernel crashes.

The root cause is a known bug in the CPU microcode of the mentioned processors. It leads to incorrect memory page translations when the EPT (Extended Page Tables) feature of the CPU is enabled and is mentioned as Erratum CA135 in an Intel specification update of the E5 v2 CPU family. EPT is an important CPU virtualization feature and helps to offload the VM memory address translation to the CPU which can significantly increase a VM's performance. So this bug is rather critical! How can it be fixed?

New ESXi 5.5 patch fixes NFS bug and another serious OpenSSL bug!

Yesterday VMware finally released a fix for the nasty NFS bug that was introduced with ESXi 5.5 Update 1. Customers who were waiting to update to U1 because of this bug can now safely update their hosts and will also get protection from the OpenSSL Heartbleed bug.

But there is another reason why you should update your ESXi 5.5 hosts with this patch very soon - even if you are not affected by the NFS bug and have already applied the Heartbleed fix!

How to download individual VIBs from the VMware Online Depot

Lately I was troubleshooting a PSOD issue on one of our ESXi 5.0 hosts with VMware Support, and they advised me to downgrade the bnx2 driver to the ESXi builtin version (I had a newer HP supplied version installed because it was HP hardware). Later it turned out that this was a wrong advice, but at that time I wondered: How do you do this?

The support guy pointed me to the well known KB article Installing async drivers on VMware ESXi 5.0, 5.1 and 5.5, but the instructions there assume that you have downloaded an Offline bundle of the new driver from somewhere. However, the version of the net-bnx2 package that I was advised to install (2.0.15g.v50.11-5) was not available for download anywhere ...