I am not a VMware expert, but I hate to see any question go unanswered.
As far as I know, the Intel Deployment Assistant lets you slipstream the drivers so you can do an unattended install. If you don't have it (or don't use it), it just means you have to manually add drivers during the OS load. Annoying, but not critical.
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>I am able to install vSphere ESX 4.1 Update 1 from the install cd, and not use the Intel Deployment Assistant, but do I get all drivers then??
Even IDA does not add drivers for VMWare installation, as it does for other OS installation. The reason being most of the latest drivers are already part of VMWare CD, hence no new driver addition is required.