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ESX/ESXi hosts fail with a purple diagnostic screen and report the error: #PF Exception(14) (2012404)

Symptoms

  • The ESX/ESXi host fails with a purple diagnostic screen
  • You see a backtrace similar to:

    @BlueScreen: #PF Exception(14) in world 1056477182:sh ip 0x41803645e7fc addr 0x417ff5d1e50c
     LBR: from 0x41803645e825 to 0x41803645e7e1
     Code starts at 0x418036400000
     0x4100c7ff7d08:[0x41803645e7fc]WorldNewInt+0xa3 stack: 0x4100a30e4bf0
     0x4100c7ff7d38:[0x41803645ec6f]World_New+0xbe stack: 0xbad0014
     0x4100c7ff7d98:[0x41803645ee0e]WorldNewDefaultWorld+0x179 stack: 0x4100c7ff7e08
     0x4100c7ff7de8:[0x41803657ae50]UserCartel_NewChildWorld+0x9b stack: 0x4100c7ff7e48
     0x4100c7ff7e38:[0x41803657af5d]UserCartel_Fork+0xc8 stack: 0x4100c7ff7e78
     0x4100c7ff7ef8:[0x41803656369d]LinuxThread_Clone+0x134 stack: 0xec7ff7f28
     0x4100c7ff7f28:[0x41803653d90c]User_LinuxSyscallHandler+0xa3 stack: 0x0

Cause

When new worlds are created, an integer is incremented. When this integer overflows, the kernel panics and fails with a purple diagnostic screen. In ESXi, new worlds are created for all processes because there is no service console operating system. Therefore, this number increments much faster in ESXi than ESX. In ESXi, this issue occurs when the system has been running for a very long time (over a year) without a reboot and has been actively creating processes. In ESX classic, it is almost impossible to hit this threshold.

Resolution

This issue is resolved in the following ESX/ESXi releases:

Note: This issue does not affect ESXi 5.1


If you are unable to upgrade to the appropriate release, to workaround this issue on earlier release of ESX/ESXi, reboot the host. Rebooting the host restarts the counter and eliminates the risk of any failure.
 
To avoid a reboot, you can check to determine if your system is at risk.
 
To determine if your system is at risk, run this script in the ESXi command line:

ps -c  | awk {'print $1'} | sort -n | tail -n 1
 
If the output returns a value of 100,000 or above it is recommended to schedule a reboot.

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