Saturday, May 3, 2014

SplitRXMode in VMware vSphere 5

My previous post was on how multicasting is handled in VMware vSwitch context. You can read about it here.

Now it is most apt to mention some advanced setting around it. The advanced setting we talk about is SplitRXMode.

While Multicasting worked fine for some multicast applications this still wasn’t sufficient enough for the more demanding multicast applications and hence stalled their virtualization. 

The reason being that in this case VMs would process the packet replication in a single shared context which ultimately led to constraints. This is because when there was a high VM to ESX ratio there was a consequent high packet rate that often caused large packet losses and bottlenecks. VMware vSphere 5 provides, the new splitRXMode to not only compensate for this problem but also enable the virtualization of demanding multicast applications.

SplitRx mode is an ESXi feature that uses multiple physical CPUs to process network packets received in a single network queue. This feature provides a scalable and efficient platform for multicast receivers. SplitRx mode typically improves throughput and CPU efficiency for multicast traffic workloads.

VMware recommends enabling splitRx Mode in situations where multiple virtual machines share a single physical NIC and receive a lot of multicast or broadcast packets.


  •         SplitRx mode is supported only on vmxnet3 network adapters. 
  •         This feature is disabled by default.
  •         SplitRx mode is individually configured for each virtual NIC.

To enable SplitRX do the following:

This feature, which is supported only for VMXNET3 virtual network adapters, is individually configured for each virtual NIC using the ethernetX.emuRxMode variable in each virtual machine’s .vmx file (where X is replaced with the network adapter’s ID).

The possible values for this variable are:

 ethernetX.emuRxMode = “0″

The above value disables splitRx mode for ethernetX.

ethernetX.emuRxMode = “1″

The above value enables splitRx mode for ethernetX.

To change this variable through the vSphere Client:

  1. Select the virtual machine you wish to change, then click Edit virtual machine settings.
  2. Under the Options tab, select General, then click Configuration Parameters.
  3. Look for ethernetX.emuRxMode (where X is the number of the desired NIC). If the variable isn’t present, click Add Row and enter it as a new variable.
  4. Click on the value to be changed and configure it as you wish.

The change will not take effect until the virtual machine has been restarted.

References and Credits: Chris Hendryx (

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