vSphere Licensing: Part 8 ESXi Free = 32GB Hard limit?

In the mix of licensing specifics around ESXi/vSphere 5 is the idea that for a paid license you have a soft limit – the vRAM entitelment is a high-water mark over a period of time that you can exceed briefly if you keep an eye on the average. However, I’ve been told that the Essentials/Essentials Plus licensing is a hard limit at 192GB (which I doubt since they increased the limit right before RTM) and that the ESXi free version has a hard limit at 32GB.

I don’t have sufficient hardware to test the Ess/Ess+ limit but it’s easy to test the ESXi limit:

Fire up Workstation 8 and install ESXi 5.

Register at VMware.com and get a license key for ESXi (otherwise you get the eval license which is the equivalent of Enterprise Plus)

Build 5 VMs giving each 8GB of RAM.

Power on 4

So far so good.
Try to power on #5 to get this message.

Yes Virginia there really is a hard 32GB limit for the free version of ESXi.

Nevermind! I ran the datastore (which was approx 32GB) out of space which is what stopped me. By setting memory limits on the VMs I was able to exceed 32GB vRAM powered on.

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4 Responses to vSphere Licensing: Part 8 ESXi Free = 32GB Hard limit?

  1. Jeff says:

    Interesting, according to this page


    it’s just a soft limit and you could go over that now

    • JAndrews says:

      Curiouser and Curiouser. I’ll run my tests again on the last build once I get access to that hardware again.

      • JAndrews says:

        Doh! I found the problem – The error message I was getting was accurate, I ran out of space on the datastore the VMs (and thus their swap files) were on which was right at 32GB! Setting a memory limit for each VM resolved that issue and let me power on >32GB of VMs.

      • Jeff says:

        Very cool news, thanks. I’m prepping a server with 64GB memory, and I was going to be sad to see half of that sit useless 😐

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