VMware says it won't be bringing EXSi to the 2019 Mac Pro after all

Mac Pro
Mac Pro (Image credit: iMore)

What you need to know

  • Virtualization outfit VMware has ditched plans to bring its ESXi hypervisor to the 2019 Mac Pro.
  • VMware says that Apple's transition to Apple silicon is one of the reasons it won't be looking to pursue hardware verification for ESXi.

Virtualization outfit VMware has announced that it will no longer pursue hardware verification for its ESXi hypervisor on the one machine you would expect to get it — the 2019 Mac Pro. Hypervisors are layers of software that allow virtual machines to be installed.

VMware took the unusual step of announcing that it has canned planned support via a blog post, with The Register spotting it.

According to VMware, one of the reasons that it's ditching plans to support the Mac Pro is Apple's move to Apple silicon. It's possible the company doesn't want to do the work to get hardware verification signed off only for Apple to pull the rug on the Intel Mac Pro.

While VMware does not comment on future hardware enablement for our ESXi platform, we felt an update was warranted for our customers who have been inquiring about support for the Apple 2019 Mac Pro 7,1.Due to various challenges of COVID-19 and the recent announcement from Apple on their transition away from x86 to Apple Silicon, VMware will no longer pursue hardware certification for the Apple 2019 Mac Pro 7,1 for ESXi.

This is a shame for a few reasons, not least the fact that the 28-core Mac Pro with 1.5TB of RAM would make for one very impressive virtual machine host

As The Register also points out, this leaves some businesses in a pickle — Apple only allows macOS to be virtualized on its own hardware and the current Mac Pro would be perfect for that.

A reminder: Apple only allows macOS VMs to run on its own hardware, even in the cloud. So decently powerful Mac hosts are needed. Apple seemed to give a nod to this by offering the 2019 Mac Pro as both a desktop workstation and a rack-mountable machine.

All this means that, amazingly, the old Intel i7 Mac mini is the most recent Mac that is supported by ESXi. And that's just ... odd. It's a great machine, but is it the best Mac for running high-power virtual machines? No, probably not. But it's the best we've got in terms of ESXi, it seems.

Oliver Haslam

Oliver Haslam has written about Apple and the wider technology business for more than a decade with bylines on How-To Geek, PC Mag, iDownloadBlog, and many more. He has also been published in print for Macworld, including cover stories. At iMore, Oliver is involved in daily news coverage and, not being short of opinions, has been known to 'explain' those thoughts in more detail, too.

Having grown up using PCs and spending far too much money on graphics card and flashy RAM, Oliver switched to the Mac with a G5 iMac and hasn't looked back. Since then he's seen the growth of the smartphone world, backed by iPhone, and new product categories come and go. Current expertise includes iOS, macOS, streaming services, and pretty much anything that has a battery or plugs into a wall. Oliver also covers mobile gaming for iMore, with Apple Arcade a particular focus. He's been gaming since the Atari 2600 days and still struggles to comprehend the fact he can play console quality titles on his pocket computer.