vSphere 5 vRAM Changes


Thanks to the numerous traffic about vSphere 5’s vRAM “tax” – VMware has changed the entitlements.

(Take a look at Justin’s post here explaining vRAM “tax” and how it works.)

Basically, VMware has made 3 changes:

  • Increased vRAM entitlements for all vSphere editions.
  • Capped the amount of vRAM counted in any given VM
  • More flexible in calculating and reporting hitting the limit

The fist one being the most important – and it was quite an increase for Enterprise and Enterprise+ and the Free hypervisor.  Here is VMware’s chart:

vSphere edition Previous vRAM entitlement New vRAM entitlement
vSphere Enterprise+ 48 GB 96 GB
vSphere Enterprise 32 GB 64 GB
vSphere Standard 24 GB 32 GB
vSphere Essentials+ 24 GB 32 GB
vSphere Essentials 24 GB 32 GB
Free vSphere Hypervisor 8 GB 32 GB
vSphere Desktop Unlimited Unlimited

Enterprise and Enterprise+ have doubled, up to 96GB.  The rest have increased only by 8GB.  However, keep in mind that this is a per license limit.  Your ESXi server will have at least 2 CPUs, meaning 2 vSphere licenses.  So, This means that a typical Essentials vSphere server will an entitlement of up to have 64GB of vRAM available.

As a special note – for the Free Hypervisor, 32GB is the physical RAM limit for the physical server.

The second item, the “capped amount” simply means that (for example) if you have a VM with 512GB of vRAM, it’s not going to require you to have 5 vSphere licenses just to let that VM run. That VM only counts for 96GB of vRAM.

Lastly, They have changed the way vSphere tracks the vRAM usage – by taking the average vRAM consumed over a 12 month period, rather than keeping you alerted every-time your VM’s consume more vRAM than you are licensed for.

This was a good move by VMware, and it’s nice to know they listen to their market.  I’m looking forward to vSphere 5.

See the official VMware Blog posting here.

This Post Has 7 Comments



    Thanks in a nutshell could you please say how much of physical memory my host can have if i install vmware FREE 4.1 bare metal hypervisor and how much vram per host can i have ,
    there is no single piece of document in web which clearly states this
    thanks and regards

  2. Harry

    Hi, I am running vCenter Server 4 (ESX Hypervisor 4) and vSphere 4 Ent+. If I want to upgrade vSphere to 5.0, do I need to upgrade vCenter Server 4 to ESXi 5.0 first, or can I keep that and only upgrade vSphere?

    1. Tim


      Looks like you have a couple terms mixed up. vCenter is the management piece that is installed on a Windows box. ESXi is the hypervisor. You are licensed to run Enterprise+ features on your ESXi (hypervisor) servers. You may be running ESX, and not ESXi. In 5.0, there is no more ESX, just ESXi.

      That being said…. You would upgrade your vCenter server to vCenter 5.0 using the setup utility to upgrade your server and database. After that, you could continue to leave your servers on 4.x. I would recommend upgrading them though. in vSphere5, the only option is ESXi. So, if you are using full blown ESX, you will have to start a fresh install of ESXi. If you are already using ESXi 4.x, you can use the ESXi 5 CD to upgrade ESXi to 5.0.

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