Archive

Posts Tagged ‘virtualisation’

Windows Server 2008 R2 Beta Download

January 11th, 2009 1 comment

Now that the road to downloading Windows 7 Beta 1 and finding a key for Windows 7 Beta 1 have been travelled by most, its time to look towards Windows Server 2008 R2 Beta.

This release contains some significant updates to the virtualisation hypervisor in Windows Server (Hyper-Vwiki) and will only be offered as a 64-bit release sporting 256 processors (with 32 processors in VMs).

{lang: 'en-GB'}
Share

Sun ushers in VirtualBox 2.1 with cool new features!

December 18th, 2008 2 comments

VirtualBoxIt only feels like last month Sun released VirtualBox 2.0 and they’ve just released 2.1 which brings a plethora of additional goodies… from the changelog:

  • Support for hardware virtualization (VT-x and AMD-V) on Mac OS X hosts
  • Support for 64-bit guests on 32-bit host operating systems (experimental; see user manual, chapter 1.6, 64-bit guests, page 16)
  • Added support for Intel Nehalem virtualization enhancements (EPT and VPID; see user manual, chapter 1.2, Software vs. hardware virtualization (VT-x and AMD-V), page 10))
  • Experimental 3D acceleration via OpenGL (see user manual, chapter 4.8, Hardware 3D acceleration (OpenGL), page 66)
  • Experimental LsiLogic and BusLogic SCSI controllers (see user manual, chapter 5.1, Hard disk controllers: IDE, SATA (AHCI), SCSI, page 70)
  • Full VMDK/VHD support including snapshots (see user manual, chapter 5.2, Disk image ?les (VDI, VMDK, VHD), page 72)
  • New NAT engine with signi?cantly better performance, reliability and ICMP echo (ping) support (bugs #1046, #2438, #2223, #1247)
  • New Host Interface Networking implementations for Windows and Linux hosts with easier setup (replaces TUN/TAP on Linux and manual bridging on Windows)

Some key things to note here, those “cool” people that run OS X can now get hardware virtualisation. Even if you have a 32bit host operating system your able to run 64bit hosts so long as you enable hardware acceleration on the CPU (AMD-V or Intel-VT) as VirtualBox’s Hypervisor requires this to work. A couple of other major additions – tested personally, include the enhanced virtualisation on the new Nahalem processors (Extended Page Table & Virtual Processor Identifier – see below) and the starting block for OpenGL (and later DirectX) Acceleration in XP and Vista. Testing this on OpenGL gave some decent performance though its still got a bit of work to do.

The move to include 3D acceleration is an interesting one, considering VMWare recently acquired Tungsten Graphics – who is the company behind Mesa, TTM memory manager and Gallium3D.  Interesting times ahead – as always 🙂

What’s an Extendable Page Table & that VPID thing???

Virtualisation in the Intel world comes in two flavours, the Intel VT-x and Intel VT-i Architectures. The VT-x is for IA-32 processors, whilst the VT-i is for Itanium processors.

Intel took a slice of the Virtualisation pie offered by AMD’s Pacifier architecture in implementing a method of translating ordinary IA-32 page tables from the guest-physical addresses to the host-physical addresses used to access memory. This way, guest’s can handle their own page tables directly and page-faults associated with them directly and minimize the (sizable) overhead associated with translating. This is known as Extended Page Tables (EPT).

Virtual Processor Identifiers (VPIDs) on the other hand allows a hypervisor (or a VMM) to assign a non-zero VPID to each virtual processor with the initial processor (VPID = 0) assigned to the hypervisor itself. This way, the CPU can use the VPIDs to tag translations in the Translation Lookaside Buffer (TLB) which removes the performance penalties associated with flushing TLBs on VM Entry and exit.

Both these two bits of technology (along with NMI-window exiting)  come on the Nahelem processor‘s Virtualisation enhancments. If your interested in a more indepth explanation see the article Solving Virtualisation Challenges with VT-X and VT-I from the Intel Technology Journal.

Other Changes in 2.1

  • VMM: signi?cant performance improvements for VT-x (real mode execution)
  • VMM: support for hardware breakpoints (VT-x and AMD-V only; bug #477)
  • VMM: VGA performance improvements for VT-x and AMD-V
  • VMM: Solaris and OpenSolaris guest performance improvements for AMD-V (Barcelona family CPUs only)
  • VMM: ?xed guru meditation while running the Dr. Web virus scanner (software virtualization only; bug #1439)
  • VMM: deactivate VT-x and AMD-V when the host machine goes into suspend mode; reactivate when the host machine resumes (Windows, Mac OS X & Linux hosts; bug #1660)
  • VMM: ?xed guest hangs when restoring VT-x or AMD-V saved states/snapshots
  • VMM: ?xed guru meditation when executing a one byte debug instruction (VT-x only; bug #2617)
  • VMM: ?xed guru meditation for PAE guests on non-PAE hosts (VT-x)
  • VMM: disallow mixing of software and hardware virtualization execution in general (bug #2404)
  • VMM: ?xed black screen when booting OS/2 1.x (AMD-V only)
  • GUI: pause running VMs when the host machine goes into suspend mode (Windows & Mac OS X hosts)
  • GUI: resume previously paused VMs when the host machine resumes after suspend (Windows & Mac OS X hosts)
  • GUI: save the state of running or paused VMs when the host machine’s battery reaches critical level (Windows hosts)
  • GUI: properly restore the position of the selector window when running on the compiz window manager
  • GUI: properly restore the VM in seamless mode (2.0 regression)
  • GUI: warn user about non optimal memory settings
  • GUI: structure operating system list according to family and version for improved usability
  • GUI: prede?ned settings for QNX guests
  • IDE: improved ATAPI passthrough support
  • Networking: added support for up to 8 Ethernet adapters per VM
  • Networking: ?xed issue where a VM could lose connectivity after a reboot
  • iSCSI: allow snapshot/diff creation using local VDI ?le
  • iSCSI: improved interoperability with iSCSI targets
  • Graphics: ?xed handling of a guest video memory which is not a power of two (bug #2724)
  • VBoxManage: ?xed bug which prevented setting up the serial port for direct device access.
  • VBoxManage: added support for VMDK and VHD image creation
  • VBoxManage: added support for image conversion (VDI/VMDK/VHD/RAW)
  • Solaris hosts: added IPv6 support between host and guest when using host interface networking
  • Mac OS X hosts: added ACPI host power status reporting
  • API: redesigned storage model with better generalization
  • API: allow attaching a hard disk to more than one VM at a time
  • API: added methods to return network con?guration information of the host system
  • Shared Folders: performance and stability ?xes for Windows guests (Microsoft Of?ce Applications)

Performance & Updates

Overall, on the two different machines that I’ve tried the new 2.1 release on, they’ve both “felt” snappier (QX6850 and a Core i7 965Earchitecture summary) but unlike the 1.6 release – which was somewhat flakey for me, 2.x releases of VirtualBox are solid.

3D Acceleration Option

Dont take my word for it, download and try it out.

Gets me a VirtualBox 2.1

Grab your copy and try it out.

  • VirtualBox 2.1.0 for Windows hosts x86 | AMD64
  • VirtualBox 2.1.0 for Solaris and OpenSolaris hosts x86 | AMD64

Give it a shot, heck try OpenSolaris 2008.11 on there just for kicks!

{lang: 'en-GB'}
Share

Sun releases VirtualBox 2.0 just couple of days after 1.6.6!

September 7th, 2008 1 comment

One of the hottest Virtualisation applications going around the internets these days is Sun’s recently aquired VirtualBox software suite. The bright folks at Sun have just announced version 2.0 release which is a couple of days after the 1.6.6 maintenance release.

Being a fan of VirtualBox from around the 1.3.x days when it was owned by Innotek and seeing it mature the way it has, its been quite impressive – if not for the wide platform compatibility and the fact that its a ‘free’ product for personal use that’s competitive with commercial offerings such as VMWare – which has been my fulltime VM product (loving VMWare 6.5 btw!).

VirtualBox 2.0 brings some uber goodness to the mix (from the changelog):

    This version is a major update. The following major new features were added:

    • 64 bits guest support (64 bits host only)
    • New native Leopard user interface on Mac OS X hosts
    • The GUI was converted from Qt3 to Qt4 with many visual improvements
    • New-version notifier
    • Guest property information interface
    • Host Interface Networking on Mac OS X hosts
    • New Host Interface Networking on Solaris hosts
    • Support for Nested Paging on modern AMD CPUs (major performance gain)
    • Framework for collecting performance and resource usage data (metrics)
    • Added SATA asynchronous IO (NCQ: Native Command Queuing) when accessing raw disks/partitions (major performance gain)
    • Clipboard integration for OS/2 Guests
    • Created separate SDK component featuring a new Python programming interface on Linux and Solaris hosts
    • Support for VHD disk images

    In addition, the following items were fixed and/or added:

    • VMM: VT-x fixes
    • AHCI/SATA: improved performance
    • GUI: keyboard fixes
    • Linux installer: properly uninstall the package even if unregistering the DKMS module fails
    • Linux additions: the guest screen resolution is properly restored
    • Network: added support for jumbo frames (> 1536 bytes)
    • Shared Folders: fixed guest crash with Windows Media Player 11
    • Mac OS X: Ctrl+Left mouse click doesn’t simulate a right mouse click in the guest anymore. Use Hostkey+Left for a right mouse click emulation. (bug #1766)

    Download your copy based on your Operating System:

    • VirtualBox 2.0.0 for Windows hosts x86 | AMD64 (only on Windows x64!)
    • VirtualBox 2.0.0 for Solaris and OpenSolaris hosts x86 | AMD64

    After installing 2.0, my 1.6.x images seamlessly moved to the 2.0 release with minimal fuss, just make sure you shutdown your VMs prior to upgrading to avoid hassles.

    Not to be forgotten is VMWare’s upcoming 6.5 release which is rolling full steam ahead!

    {lang: 'en-GB'}
    Share