USB 3.0 Ultra Dock Passthrough? Virtualization Heaven

so for @wendell might be a fun video if you can get pluggables to sponsor it

and this is more a thought experiment, but I got the idea from a question over here about multiple machines being replaced with one from a VM

Could you do a passthrough to a VM of an ultra dock, like this which is a USB 3.0 dock with display options, and a ton of connectivity including Ethernet, DVI/HDMI, and audio stuff, and then how would that work exactly? Would you be able to give each virtual machine a direct internet line, and it's own monitor and all that hooked up to the dock? would your GPU even matter in this case for getting displays to each machine?

I'm also unsure how cost effective this would be given the price of the PC + 3 docks compared to just buying a few dedicated PCs, I guess this may use less power than that overall though, especially with a higher end PSU, might be worth it for a business in that case.

This would be the build for it, dunno if the GPU would matter, so picked one with 4 mini display port outputs, and 8320e, so 2 cores per machine + 2 for host, with an SSD for each should be more than enough for basic office tasks, and then you could also like throw in a 4TB drive and have each VM be able to access it to save work to it right?

motherboard is there for the 4 USB 3.0 ports for the dock, but I'm sure you have hardware lying around you could do it with if you were to go with the video route

PCPartPicker part list:
Price breakdown by merchant:

CPU: AMD FX-8320E 3.2GHz 8-Core Processor ($126.99 @ SuperBiiz)
Motherboard: ASRock 970M PRO3 Micro ATX AM3+/AM3 Motherboard ($56.99 @ SuperBiiz)
Memory: G.Skill Ares Series 16GB (2 x 8GB) DDR3-1600 Memory ($56.99 @ Newegg)
Storage: Sandisk SSD PLUS 120GB 2.5" Solid State Drive ($42.92 @ Amazon)
Storage: Sandisk SSD PLUS 120GB 2.5" Solid State Drive ($42.92 @ Amazon)
Storage: Sandisk SSD PLUS 120GB 2.5" Solid State Drive ($42.92 @ Amazon)
Storage: Sandisk SSD PLUS 120GB 2.5" Solid State Drive ($42.92 @ Amazon)
Video Card: ATI FirePro W4100 2GB Video Card ($159.99 @ Newegg)
Case: Fractal Design Core 1000 USB 3.0 MicroATX Mid Tower Case ($34.99 @ Micro Center)
Power Supply: XFX 550W 80+ Bronze Certified ATX Power Supply ($55.99 @ SuperBiiz)
Total: $663.62
Prices include shipping, taxes, and discounts when available
Generated by PCPartPicker 2016-03-24 22:01 EDT-0400

1 Like

This is interesting. I think it may work. I would try it like this:

  • USB hubs can't be passed in as hubs. Only end point devices can be assigned. A workaround for this is to passin USB controllers to the VM, and any USB ports on the controller are owned by the guest. I would go with a separate PCIe USB card to pass in for each VM. This hub would then go on each passed in USB card.
  • I think each VM can be started with a virtual video device, then configured to display out of the USB based video once booted. Unsure about this.
  • You won't need the NIC. You can bridge the host NIC and attach them as virtual NICs to each guest. It will probably be more reliable.
  • Audio should work fine out of hub.

Couldn't you passthrough a KVM switch hooked up to the dock to the VM? Pluggable makes a USB 3.0 one of those as well

That way you don't need to run a bunch of PCI-e add in cards

and isn't splitting the one connection across multiple computers going to run into some slow down rather than giving each it's own connection through the dock if possible?

Not sure. How exactly would you hook it up?

I suppose if all clients are accessing external resources at gigabit speeds, it will slow you down, but any client to client or client to host traffic is significantly faster over the virtual interface. Which do you prioritize? You could always have both connections too. I just don't really trust USB NICs.

Something like this I think, well hope

I'm not able to pass through my KVM switch. Instead I passed through my usb 3.1 controller because I'm not using it for anything else and have the USB plugged into that port as well as a 3.0 which is still owed by the host.

Curious about this as well. I physicalized a win10 VM on ESXi and had to get a USB PCI card to pull it off. I want to move the host into the closet and don't want a bunch of extended wires running out-- I have that 3.0 docking station in my watch list but am hesitant to pull the trigger.