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)

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


Right-click the virtual machine and select Edit Settings.


To locate a virtual machine, select a datacenter, folder, cluster, resource pool, host, or vApp.


Click the Related Objects tab and click Virtual Machines.


On the Virtual Hardware tab, select USB Controller from the New device drop-down menu, and click Add .

The new USB controller appears at the bottom of the Virtual Hardware device list.


Expand New USB Controller to change the USB controller type.

If compatibility errors appear, fix them before you can add the controller.


Click OK.

Add one or more USB devices to the virtual machine.