VMware How to Enable GPU for Passthrough Tutorial

The GPU is used in a wide range of applications, including graphics and video rendering. But do you know how to enable GPU for passthrough on hypervisors and virtual machines? This article will introduce it to you.


By Crystal / Updated on March 8, 2023

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What is GPU passthrough

GPU, or the graphics processing unit, has become one of the most important types of computing technology. Designed for parallel processing, the GPU is used in a wide range of applications, including graphics and video rendering.

Also, the addition of GPU support to VMs enables virtualized workloads on premises and in the cloud to handle the demanding computation efficiently for tasks such as real-time data visualization and virtual desktop graphics.

GPU passthrough

A passthrough mode provides access, control and use of an entire device. When a GPU operates in pass-through mode, the hypervisor assigns one GPU to one VM. The VM then has complete use of the GPU and can realize 100% of the GPU's capabilities, including processing power and associated graphics memory.

✎ Hypervisors support GPU passthrough:
VMware ESXi
Microsoft Hyper-V

But GPU support isn't automatic. Hypervisors support GPUs in either pass-through or virtual GPU (vGPU) modes. GPU support often must be enabled deliberately and added to VM configurations before the VM can use those GPU capabilities.

Next, this article will show you VMware how to enable GPU passthrough.

Prerequisites for GPU passthrough

  • Verify that your GPU device is supported by your server vendor.
  • Verify that your GPU can be used in passthrough mode.
  • Verify you have created a virtual machine for the vSphere Bitfusion server.
  • Verify whether your GPU device maps memory regions with a total size of 16 GB or more.

On VMware How to enable GPU passthrough for ESXi host

The VM of the vSphere Bitfusion server must boot in EFI or UEFI mode for correct GPU use. Therefore, except for enabling the GPU for passthrough on the ESXi host.you also need to enable UEFI or EFI in the boot options the virtual machine.

Tip: If your GPU requires 16 GB or more of memory mapping, in the BIOS settings of the ESXi host, enable the GPU for passthrough.

Typically, the name of the setting is Above 4G decoding, Memory mapped I/O above 4GB, or PCI 64-bit resource handing above 4G.

1. In the vSphere Client, right-click on the ESXi host and select Settings.

2. On the Configure tab, select Hardware > PCI Devices, and click Configure Passthrough.

PCI device

3. In the Edit PCI Device Availability dialog box, in the ID column, select the check box for the GPU device. Click OK.

4. Now the GPU is displayed on the Passthrough-enabled devices tab. Reboot the ESXi host.

Needs reboot

5. Right-click on the target VM, select Edit Settings > VM Options > Boot Options.

6. From the Firmware drop-down menu, select UEFI or EFI. Click OK.

Boot options

During the deployment process of the vSphere Bitfusion appliance, you can pass through the GPU to the VM of the vSphere Bitfusion server.

Toggle passthrough

Backup VMware ESXi VMs to avoid data loss

You may need an effective backup software for VMware vSphere to protect your virtual environment and gain the ability to quickly recover your virtual machines when needed. In this article, I will introduce an efficient VMware vSphere backup software - AOMEI Cyber Backup, which enables you to backup multiple VMs either managed by vCenter Server, or on a standalone ESXi host.

It simplifies the backup process and present the steps with intuitive GUI interface. In addition, it offers you the following benefits.

Agentless Backup: create complete and independent image-level backup for VMware ESXi and Hyper-V VMs.
Flexible vSphere Backup: batch backup large numbers of VMs managed by vCenter Server, or multiple VMs on a standalone ESXi host.
Multiple Storage Destinations: backup to local drive, or network destinations like Windows share or NAS.
Automated Execution: create backup schedules to automate backups daily, weekly, monthly.
Role Assignment: allows one administrator to create sub-accounts with limited privileges.

AOMEI Cyber Backup

As for VMware vSphere, AOMEI Cyber Backup supports both paid and free VMware ESXi 6.0 and later versions.

Next, I will show you how to perform vSphere VM backup and restore via AOMEI Cyber Backup. You can click the following button to download the free trial.

Download Free TrialVMware ESXi & Hyper-V
Secure Download

*You can choose to install this VM backup software on either Windows or Linux system.

Steps to perform vSphere backup and restore via AOMEI Cyber Backup

Backup multiple VMs:

1. Bind Devices: Access to AOMEI Cyber Backup web client, navigate to Source Device > VMware > + Add VMware Device to Add vCenter or Standalone ESXi host. And then click > Bind Device.

Add VMware ESXi host

2. Create Backup Task: Navigate to Backup Task > + Create New Task, and select VMware ESXi Backup as the Backup Type.

VMware ESXi backup

3. Set the Task Name, Device, Target, Schedule and Cleanup as needed.

  • Task Name: you can change the task name or use the default name with an ordinal.
  • Device: batch backup multiple VMs on vCenter or standalone host within one backup task.

Select virtual machines vCenter

  • Target: select to back up to a local path, or to a network path like NAS.
  • Schedule (optional): perform full, differential, or incremental backup, and automate execution according to the frequency you specified.

Backup schedule type

  • Cleanup (optional): automatically delete the old backup copies that exceed the retention period you specified.

backup cleanup

4. Run Backup: Now you can click Start Backup and select Add the schedule and start backup now, or Add the schedule only.

Start Backup

Created backup tasks will be listed and monitored separately for restoring, progress checking and schedule changing.

Restore VM from backup:

5. Restore from Backup: Select the backup task you want to restore, and click ... > Restore to open the wizard.

Or you can click Backup Management > History Versions. Specify a VM and select a restore point from the left list.

Restire from backup task

6. Start Restore: Choose to Restore to original location or Restore to new location. And click Start Restore to recover the virtual machine in place.

Restore to new location: Create a new VM in the same or another datastore/host directly from the backup to perform out-of-spacre recovery, saves the trouble of re-configuring the new VM.

Restore to new location


Nowadays, graphics technology is applied more extensively to an increasingly wide set of problems. And today’s GPUs are more programmable than ever before, affording them the flexibility to accelerate a broad range of applications that go well beyond traditional graphics rendering.

This article introduces what is GPU passthrough, and showed VMware how to enable GPU passthrough for ESXi host. The VMware Workstation GPU passthrough is currently not supported.

If you want to protect your VM data, you may need a handy vSphere virtual machine backup software. You can try AOMEI Cyber Backup, a software that allows you to centrally manage and automate the backup and restore of multiple VMware ESXi or Hyper-V VMs.

Crystal · Editor
Crystal is an editor from AOMEI Technology. She mainly writes articles about virtual machine. She is a positive young lady likes to share articles with peolpe. Off work she loves travelling and cooking which is wonderful for life.