vRAM licensing remains for VMware vSphere Hypervisor 5.1

UPDATE: After I published this post I got a response from VMware stating there was an error on their website. The free hypervisor is limited to 32GB physical RAM, there is no longer a vRAM limit. Their website originally reported 32GB vRAM and 32GB physical limit. This has now changed to “For vSphere Hypervisor 5.1, there is no vRAM restriction.” but there also is no longer a mention of the 32GB physical limit. I reported this and hope they will add that back again.

UPDATE 2: Well this post is becoming a mess :-) Official reply from the VMware team and the one and final answer:
“There is no vRAM in vSphere 5/5.1, including the free vSphere Hypervisor. If a host licensed with vSphere Hypervisor has more than 32GB of physical RAM it will error when applying the license or on boot. Before the vSphere Hypervisor license is applied, it will be running in 60-day evaluation mode (functionally equivalent to Ent+).  So in the case of a host with more than 32GB of physical RAM, when assigning the vSphere Hypervisor license fails the host will remain in the evaluation mode. If they do want to proceed they either need to find a box with 32 or less or go into the BIOS of the offending machine and turn off the additional RAM.”

When VMware announced the new vSphere 5.1 release at VMworld this week, they also announced the removal of the vRAM licensing and  any core limitations. There was no mention though about the VMware vSphere Hypervisor 5.1, the Free edition. The website for vSphere 5.1 was quickly updated with all new licensing models for all the vSphere editions and the new vCloud Suite. On the vSphere Hypervisor page I couldn’t figure out if this was already updated or not, because it reads:

How much vRAM does a VMware vSphere Hypervisor license provide?
vSphere Hypervisor license provides a vRAM entitlement of 32GB per server, regardless of the number of physical processors. vSphere Hypervisor can be used on servers with maximum physical RAM capacity of 32GB.

Yesterday I asked a VMware employee about these limits for 5.1 and today I received an answer by e-mail from Mike Adams, Group Product Marketing Manager, vSphere . The above statement is still true for the vSphere Hypervisor 5.1 version, a 32GB vRAM and 32GB physical maximum. Is that bad? In some situations you might run into these limits, but remember why VMware is making the vSphere Hypervisor available for free:

VMware vSphere Hypervisor is available at no cost in order to help companies of all sizes experience the basic benefits of virtualization.

Did you know the VMware vSphere Essentials kit is available for just $495 and grants you a license to run 3 hosts of up to 2 CPUs managed by vCenter.

EDIT: I got some questions on twitter on how hard this 32GB physical RAM limit is and if a host with 48GB RAM would for example only see address 32GB by the vmkernel. But this is not true. Your host simply can not have more than 32GB physical RAM present.