E1000, E1000E and VMXNET3 performance test

After reading some posts and blogs on vSphere5 and E1000E performance my curiosity was triggered to see if actually all these claims make sense and how vSphere actually behaves when testing.

Test setup

The setup I used is similar as described in http://www.vmware.com/pdf/vsp_4_vmxnet3_perf.pdf. The setup looks like:

Bare metal server (Client): B22-M3, 16GB, 2xE5-2450, 1280VIC
vSphere ESXi 5.0 server: B200-M3, 64GB, 2xE5-2680, 1280VIC
To accommodate the tests, the 1280VIC’s are connected to 2108 IOM’s and we are only using Fabric A / 6248-A.

The VM is configured in the following way (screenshot):

  • Local Area Connection: E1000
  • Local Area Connection 2: VMXNET3
  • Local Area Connection 3: E1000E
  • 4GB Memory, 1 vCPU
  • Windows 2008R2

Test results

The following is a result of the best performance test I did run

Raw Data
Adapter Win Net Win CPU VM CPU VM Net FEX Net Graph
VMXNET3 9715 53% 82.57% 9493.67 9.92 link
E1000 9784 67% 118.89% 9491.87 9.99 link
E1000E 9654 66% 91.77% 9469.47 10.0 link

Column explanations:
Column description
Win Net Average transmission in Mbit/s on Windows
Win CPU Average CPU load on Windows measured
VM CPU %USED counter in esxtop
VM Net MbTX/s in esxtop
FEX Net Tx Bit Rate in Gbps as seen by the 2108 IOM module

Data interpretation

We can clearly see that all adapters can be filled, full line speed. There are small differences but these could very much be due to sampling periods etc…

There is a higher CPU usage seen for E1000 and E1000E adapters, for both WIN CPU and VM CPU. I think however only for E1000 there is a high penalty where for E1000E this stays within acceptable limits.


I’m not a bench guy neither is this my job, hence these figures are just my personal observation and by no means are they a result of a full professional benchmark. They are however fully reproducible.

The attached graphs do show some dips, I did not further look into them. I know technically why they are there, but did not look into fixing them.