What is the oldest processor possible to use with VFIO?

I want to play with vfio on an old computer and make sobething explode. What is the oldest chip that I could run vfio stuff on? I’m expecting sandy bridge or sobething.

I don’t know about the oldest, but Haswell has VFIO.

I know Nehalem (i.e. first gen core i) supports it, I have heard conflicting things about earlier gens.

However, for those CPUs, lots of motherboards have either broken IOMMU support or no support at all. So if you already have a motherboard, go ahead and try it, but you don’t have a great chance of it working.

If you are purchasing something, go sandy bridge or newer. Although for sandy bridge Xeons, the engineering sample revisions and then also the first revision production chips do not support IOMMU, so make sure to get a second revision, or alternatively get ivy bridge.

x79 from what I have heard is pretty good in general for IOMMU, although those boards are expensive AF on the open market.

I do not know about AMD.


Well its not like I’m looking for amazing performance. Hmmm, I’ll be looking into that more.

x79 and sandy bridge / ivy bridge… stuff is “mature” and well documented. Best VFIO experience I’ve had is with my Asus Sabertooth x79 and a sandybridge-ep Xeon cpu. Also very helpful the stuff is dirt cheap on ebay.

X79S-UP5-WIFI user here and the VFIO experience (if you don’t use the onboard USB 3.0) is stellar. I recommend pairing it with a 4960X though for gaming performance.

I used an e5-2667v2 myself. Mainly to maximize available lanes, and all that juicy cache.

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I see a lot of completed auctions for the Sabertooth x79 for $80-130 which I don’t consider “expensive AF”, but they’re not giving them away either. The CPUs are the best part of the deal, you can get an old xeon that cost thousands when it was new now for 5-10% of its original price.

from my looking the OLDEST that can is a ibm power 5/6 from the instructions available to the cpu and only limited by firmware but it would be slow af like stupid slow af

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Just this spring I threw away a Power 5 system, retired a few years back because IBM stopped supporting it on the latest i/OS releases

The more relevant thing to check is chipset and motherboard support.

Haswell has IOMMU on the CPU, but unless you have a Z series chipset (on consumer) or X series on HEDT, your board won’t do it.

Find a motherboard with good support, then find a CPU for said board. Otherwise you may end up with a CPU that supports it and no ability to use it due to broken or non-existant board support.

I’ve had good luck with Ivybridge motherboards from Asus, Biostar and Asrock. Officially, only the Q chipsets support this. That is probably the case for Intel branded boards, but since the work is done on the CPU it seems like most manufacturers turned this feature on anyway.

Sandybridge chipsets might be a bit more hit and miss, it might just require a bios update.

I also had passthrough working on a A88X Gigabyte motherboard at one point, but I mainly ran that one through ESXI.

For every time someone throws something unusual and interesting away, I shall whack them with a spoon for a fear.

I have a brand new Tektronix color laser to throw away, still in its sealed box. It was a freebie from our Xerox vendor years ago. They hoped we would buy the toner, which costs more than the printer.