Stage IV: I want 10GbE

I loved my new powerful ESXi Hosts, but I wanted 10GbE at home. How should I do that?

I dived a Little bit deeper into the Apple Mac Mini specifications: There was a Thunderbolt port. What is Thunderbolt?

Intel Thunderbolt:

Transforming device interconnectivity, Thunderbolt™ technology is a dual protocol I/O innovation that dramatically increases transfer performance with bi-directional 10 Gbps speed, and offers daisy chaining to multiple devices, providing flexibility and simplicity for innovative, thin system designs like laptops and Ultrabooks™.


As the building block to Thunderbolt technology, Thunderbolt controllers contain a high performance cross bar Thunderbolt protocol switch, a PCI Express switch, and one or more Thunderbolt ports, DisplayPorts, and PCI Express protocol adapter ports. By integrating all the features necessary to implement Thunderbolt into a single chip, the host-side controller enables system vendors to easily incorporate Thunderbolt technology into their designs.


Thunderbolt has a Display port and a PCIe Switch…. Hmmm, what happens if I add Expansion Cards to that PCIe Switch?

I found cheap 10GbE Adapters for my homelab:

On a Weekend I searched for 10GbE at ebay. I found a dealer, who sells Brocade CNA 1020 HBA for a reasonable Price.


Here are the specifications for the 1020:

FCoE Specifications
Protocols FC-SP, FC-LS, FC-GS, FC-FS2, FC-FDMI, FC-CT, FCP, FCP-2, FCP-3, FC-BB-5
Performance 500,000 IOPS per port
Logins Support for 2048 logins and 4096 exchanges
Class of service Class 3, Class 2 control frames supported
Ethernet Specifications
CEE support Priority-Based Flow Control (PFC: 802.1Qbb)
Enhanced Transmission Selection (ETS: 802.1Qaz) DCBX Data Center Bridging Exchange Protocol
Performance 10 Gbps full-duplex line rate
Frame sizes 9600 jumbo frames and mini-jumbo frames supported
Ethernet standards compliance 802.3ae, 802.1P/Q, 802.3x, 802.3ad
Stateless offload IPv4/IPv6, TCP, and UDP checksum offload; IPv4 header checksum offload;
TCP Segmentation Offload  (TSO); Receive Side Scaling (RSS); Header Data Split (HDS);

VLAN insertion/stripping and VLAN filtering

I found a Thunderbolt – PCIe Expansion box:


I ordered two of the Sonnet Echo Express Pro Expansion Chassis and installed my new (used) Brocade CNA 1020 adapters. I connected the Chassis to my Mac Mini ESXi servers and booted them up. The Cards are not recognized….

I was frustrated! After a few minutes troubleshooting, I found out, that the cards are recognized but no driver was found / loaded. I checked the HCL and then the Brocade website, downloaded the Network driver for ESXi and installed it….

Huhu, after the boot, each ESXi host shows two 10GbE Interfaces. YES!!!

I used a copper twin-ax cable for cross-over connections between my two Apple Mac Mini 6,2 ESXi Servers.


What a success. After one or two months, I wanted to use the 10GbE ports not just for vMotion…

I need a 10GbE switch at home……