USB controllers are available to add to virtual machines to support USB passthrough from an ESXi host or from a client computer to a virtual machine.

You can add two USB controllers to a virtual machine. The xHCI controller, available for Linux guest operating systems only, supports USB 3.0 superspeed, 2.0, and 1.1 devices. The EHCI+UHCI controller supports USB 2.0 and 1.1 devices.

The conditions for adding a controller vary, depending on the device version, the type of passthrough (host or client computer), and the guest operating system.

USB Controller Support

Controller type

Supported USB Device Version

Supported for Passthrough from ESXi Host to VM

Supported for Passthrough from Client Computer to VM


2.0 and 1.1




3.0, 2.0, and 1.1

Yes (USB 2.0 and 1.1 devices only)

Yes (Linux guests only)


Drivers are not available for the xHCI controller on Windows guest operating systems.

For Mac OS X systems, the EHCI+UHCI controller is enabled by default and is required for USB mouse and keyboard access.

For virtual machines with Linux guests, you can add one or both controllers, but 3.0 superspeed devices are not supported for passthrough from an ESXi host to a virtual machine. You cannot add two controllers of the same type.

For USB passthrough from an ESXi host to a virtual machine, the USB arbitrator can monitor a maximum of 15 USB controllers. If your system includes controllers that exceed the 15 controller limit and you connect USB devices to them, the devices are not available to the virtual machine.

ESXi hosts must have USB controller hardware and modules that support USB 2.0 and 1.1 devices present.

Client computers must have USB controller hardware and modules that support USB 3.0, 2.0, and 1.1 devices present.

To use the xHCI controller on a Linux guest, ensure that the Linux kernel version is 2.6.35 or later.

Verify that the virtual machine is powered on.

Required Privilege (ESXi host passthrough): Virtual Machine.Configuration.Add or Remove Device


Select a virtual machine.

In the virtual machines and templates inventory tree, select a group of virtual machines and select a virtual machine from the list on the right.

Search for a virtual machine and select it from the search results list.


In the VM Hardware panel, click Edit Settings.


Click Virtual Hardware.


From the Add a device drop-down menu, select USB Controller and click Add device.

The USB controller appears in the virtual device list above.


Click the USB controller triangle to expand the USB controller options.


Select the type of USB controller.


Click OK.

Add one or more USB devices to the virtual machine.