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Virtualization - AMD and Intel

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August 2, 2006 11:51:24 PM

I'd love to run XP and Linux simultaneous (or XP64 + XP32) on a new PC. How do the new fancy AMD + Intel hardware virtualizations work? I've done the VMWare thing and don't find it ideal... Anybody with experience with virtualization with the new CPUs?
August 2, 2006 11:55:45 PM

Quote:
I'd love to run XP and Linux simultaneous (or XP64 + XP32) on a new PC. How do the new fancy AMD + Intel hardware virtualizations work? I've done the VMWare thing and don't find it ideal... Anybody with experience with virtualization with the new CPUs?



I haven't seen much of Intel VT, AMD V was demoed with Xen. There is no real support for it in VMWare or Vitrual Server. You actually have to run it under a "hypervisor" Just some Sw that sits under the OS'.

You can do it without the HW support with any of the ones I mentioned. Xen is pretty expensive and I'm not sure if it's out of Beta.

Google Xen hypervisor
August 3, 2006 8:26:58 PM

Quote:
You actually have to run it under a "hypervisor" Just some Sw that sits under the OS'.


Thanks.

Guess I'll go the route of dual-booting (argh) for now. VMWare almost works perfectly. I had high hopes for Intel's VT and AMD's V allowing a simpler hypervisor (i.e BIOS/small-OS solution?)..
Related resources
August 3, 2006 10:05:58 PM

Just outta curiosity - how would someone switch between OSs? Or would there be two running on two monitors?
August 3, 2006 11:25:17 PM

Xen Community is an opensource under GNU, which will be sold as an enterprise edition much like linus is. The issue with Xen is that in order to run windows you need to have VT/Pacifica. That said Xen is much faster than VmWare's microkernel. You can read about it and download community release on their website.

It's still virtualization though, so I believe it run's in a Host/Guest controlled just much faster. Personally, I'd rather reboot anyway and have the full power behind my operations. Maybe have a suspend to ram option while running a guest OS, but that's just dreaming.
August 3, 2006 11:52:30 PM

Quote:
You actually have to run it under a "hypervisor" Just some Sw that sits under the OS'.


Thanks.

Guess I'll go the route of dual-booting (argh) for now. VMWare almost works perfectly. I had high hopes for Intel's VT and AMD's V allowing a simpler hypervisor (i.e BIOS/small-OS solution?)..


MS is working on there's for LongHorn Server and I believe the more expensive VMWare GSX or ESX - can't remember does run on he HW, but again it's cost prohibitive.

Virtual Server is FREE and is even better than VMWare workstation. I use it for Server OS'.
August 3, 2006 11:54:45 PM

Quote:
Just outta curiosity - how would someone switch between OSs? Or would there be two running on two monitors?


A hypervisor works the same way the combination Virtual Servr and Server 2003 does. You start up the machine in the raw state and add partitons for the processors. Then you install the OS' and you would just switch back and forth the same way.
August 9, 2006 2:40:36 AM

Quote:
... Anybody with experience with virtualization with the new CPUs?

I haven't seen much of Intel VT, AMD Pacifica was demoed with Xen. There is no real support for it in VMWare or Vitrual Server. You actually have to run it under a "hypervisor" Just some Sw that sits under the OS'. You can do it without the HW support with any of the ones I mentioned. Xen is pretty expensive and I'm not sure if it's out of Beta.
Google Xen hypervisor

"No real support in VMware Server"?, but according to their site:
http://www.vmware.com/products/server/#_tabfeatures

I found the wikipedia article a great jumping off point for reading up on VT and it also lists the CPUs that contain this feature. So it would seem all you need to do is find a motherboard supporting one of these.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/X86_virtualization

I'd be interested in your performance degradation estimates of running XP under Linux with VMware vs. native. What speed is your CPU? I wonder if there is any difference in doing it XP under Linux vs. Linux under XP (ugh). Since the X window system is such a bottleneck the latter may be faster. I have only used much earlier stuff like Win4Lin, but I'd love to try out the VMware Server on the new hardware. There MUST be some user feedback on this out there somewhere.

AND... just found this thread on VMware's board all about VT
http://kb.vmware.com/vmtnkb/search.do?languages=&rwTarg...

Inside that forum on the VMware site is a link to this pdf slide presentation at VMworld2005 by their R&D head.
http://download3.vmware.com/vmworld/2005/pac346.pdf
On page 15 and onward, he shows that the initial generation of Intel VT and AMD Pacifica hardware assist for virtualization -- is not complete. It doesnt handle memory or device virtualization. Only priveledged instructions are handled by gen 1 VT hardware. He claims that virtualization of the memory function is a key to performance.

From the summary slide I am guessing that VMware is mainly using Intel VT right now to assist in handling 64 bit guests, but are not using it for speed enhancements in other areas because their existing BT (binary translation) technology is superior to the limited VT hardware at the moment.
August 9, 2006 5:38:47 PM

Here is a great recent review of VMware Server using either Linux or XP as the host (without any VT hardware). He finds performance quite satisfactory. He also compares Linux and XP as the host OS, and Linux comes out on top (XP under Linux is faster than XP under XP!)

http://software.newsforge.com/article.pl?sid=06/07/19/1...
August 9, 2006 8:29:06 PM

Quote:
I'd be interested in your performance degradation estimates of running XP under Linux with VMware vs. native.


Frankly, I'm not concerned about performance degradation - even 50% would be fine (I'd buy a faster computer!).

Two main uses for VMWare:

1) Migrating old DOS/Windows/Linux servers onto one single machine (i.e quad CPU machine).
2) Running two OSes simultaneously without dual-booting.

I first attempted (1). My problem with VMWare is the virtualization of the hardware devices. It's a great idea but it creates problems. Second, VMWare products require you to re-installed the OS which causes extra work when "migrating"(via Norton Ghost) a legacy server to a VMWare Server. I know VMWare sells a separate product for this, but from first look, it didn't appear to solve my problem.

Now I am interested in (2)... hence my message about AMD V and Intel VT. I wanted to run XP64 + XP32 (two installs on two separate HDs - simultaneously). I wish I didn't have to go through the process of "creating a new VM" etc... to run the previously installed OS - on top of another. But I think I'm living in a virtualization dream...
August 9, 2006 9:13:04 PM

Quote:

...Second, VMWare products require you to re-installed the OS which causes extra work when "migrating"(via Norton Ghost) a legacy server to a VMWare Server. I know VMWare sells a separate product for this, but from first look, it didn't appear to solve my problem.

Voxel, hi. Checkout this link for six different ways to convert physical servers to virtual. These are the alternatives to the expensive VMware P2V.
http://4sysops.com/archives/p2v-for-vmware-six-ways-to-...
August 10, 2006 5:32:07 AM

Quote:
Checkout this link for six different ways to convert physical servers to virtual. These are the alternatives to the expensive VMware P2V.
http://4sysops.com/archives/p2v-for-vmware-six-ways-to-...


Only (1) and (2) are useful to me - Linux to Windows migration... and both cost $$$ Why are you so obsessed with VMWare? It has improved since I first looked at it 5 years ago...

Regardless, VMWare doesn't solve my "running two OSes under a light hypervisor" desire... I wish VMWare was it's own OS.
September 29, 2007 3:45:53 PM

Hi,

The best Virtual solution nowadays is:

Hardware needs:

MB + CPU both support Intel-VT or AMD-V technology

Example:

MOTHERBOARD : SUPERMICRO X7DBE-X ~700$ per unit
CPU: 2x INTEL XEON X5355 BX80563X5355A ~1000$ per unit
RAM: 4x KVR667D2D8F5K2/2G ~200$ per unit

total 3500$

Software needs:

OS: Gentoo minimal CD 2006.1
Virtualization software: Xen

Knowledge needs:

Hardware: average (needed to assemble the parts of the system)
OS: good (requires quite a good level to correctly optimise the Gentoo Linux)
Virtualization software: good (you have to know how a hypervisor works, and what you need to do to be able to create virtual machines)

Time required to successfuly achieve the project?:

Hardware: depends on how much quality you require from your systems; a fully loaded system with SAS JBODS and other fine hardware inside in a 19" chassis will take 2 DAYS to be built better than any IBM or something will do.
OS: that's the very long part of the project time; to fully optimize the OS for your hardware, you will need to recompile the full base system and compile every single software for your hardware. To have a fully prepared with X and all the nice admin tools you will need: 5 DAYS.
Virtualization software: If like me, you're just trying to find an exit from the VMWare products, you will find Xen very difficult to set up, and quite confusing too. Those with ESX experience will, nevertheless, find that the Xen setup is not that harsh, because, more or less, the ESX setup steps will have to be done for XEN as well. With XEN, things go just a bit deeper. If you never tried something like this before you'll need about 7 DAYS to work before you see your first virtual machine. If you already have some knowledge, you'll need 1-3 DAYS.

BENEFITS ???:

What? about 2 weeks of work for a rookie with computers? Yes, and even more if you never touched a linux in your life. But, Xen running on an optimized Gentoo Linux is something you won't regret to have. The performance gains are not somthing like 30% faster than VMWare on a Red Hat or Windows Server or ESX. The performance gain is 10x faster (depends greatly on your hardware configuration) than ESX. ESX runs fine with 4 heavily loaded Windows Server guests, which is not such a bad ratio: 1 real computer with 4 virtual computers on it, and twice the amount with Linux guests. But with ESX you will need to take care to use the top storage solution on the market to hide the huge lack of performance from the vmfs file system. You will feel frustrated that your 16 SAS hdds in RAID 5 perform so baddly, and then you will go XEN. Alognside the awful I/O performance of the ESX vmfs file system, you have the awful recovery performance of the ESX vmfs file system; if something at the ESX vmfs file system occurs... and the vmsfchk and other useless vmfs commands don't work... the VMWare support will tell you this: reinstall the ESX (for you it will be understood like a: you're ****, your data is lost, have a good day). This is said from sad, sad personal experience.

With Xen, there's no file system problem or some prorietary secret crapy piece of software that will sabotage the performance of your hardware. Xen will work as works your Linux, because it is basically a linux, using the same good file systems you know, the commands and software you know. So, Xen is not such as new world as that, when you need to operate the system part (drivers and configuration files), it is the linux you compiled your Xen kernel on. Yes, Xen is just a kernel that your prepare like any other linux kernel, and that you boot like any other kernel.

Here are the quick steps to install Xen:

1. Build the hardware, check the hardware matches the needs above.
2. Decide how and where you will store your virtual machines and data
3. Install and compile your Linux (Gentoo recommended for best performance over any other Linux distro at a huge compilation time cost)
4. Prepare your RAID devices with mdadm if needed
5. Prepare a portion of your storage with LVM2 (this will be used to install virtual machines on virtual partitions rather than inside files like does WMWare, LVM2 may reduce the performance of your storage (some say up to 50% slower), but will help you create, manipulate, duplicate, delete, virtual machines much faster. Otherwise you can use the normal file method.
6. When you're sure, you have installed all the needed packages (don't forget X server if you intend to use Windows virtual machines) inside your Gentoo, that they have all been optimized for your hardware, you can install the XEN sources and begin the installation of XEN.
7. You should have a working (it boots!!!) XEN kernel now. Know that some hardware support inside the Xen kernel may not be present while you had it working inside your Gentoo kernel. This will require a little search among the forums (don't abandon yourself to frustration, go on). Remember, XEN will virtualize some devices like hard drive, network interface, storage controllers, etc, this means, the hardware you have, may not work inside Xen, so make sure you have the latest sources of XEN, look for patches and don't use the kind of hardware that has been produced at 10 pieces in the world or that is selling only for the last 24 hours (one year old technology should be safe to use).
8. Now to manage our virtual machines like VMWare does, you will need to install XenMan (requires X, and some package manipulation in Gentoo, should work out of the box for Red Hat). Know that XenMan is still limited; the settings you'll be able to alter and actions you'll be able to do on virtual machines are quite limited (lvm partition creation must be done from the outside of XenMan).

If any one is looking for some Xen virtual machine configuration files for Linux or Windows, just post a reply here.
September 29, 2007 4:47:05 PM

voxel said:
Quote:
Second, VMWare products require you to re-installed the OS which causes extra work when "migrating"(via Norton Ghost) a legacy server to a VMWare Server. I know VMWare sells a separate product for this, but from first look, it didn't appear to solve my problem.
Quote:


Have you tried NewSID? It's a time saver, I no longer need to re-install the base OS.
I haven't done migration... I set up small domains to test our software. I use 5 different base images (Xp pro, 2000, 2003, 2003 with SQL Server, 2000 with SQL Server).
1st: Copy the base machine image.
2nd: Add it to Virtual server
3rd: Run newSID http://www.microsoft.com/technet/sysinternals/Security/...
4th: Add it to the network. (after SID not before)

I don't know if that helps. Possibly (never done this... but I don't see why not) you could
- Make a base machine with the correct software versions installed.
- Copy it,
- Run newSD
- Add it to the newWork
- Copy over the user's directory in "documents and settings".
- Done

Also as a point of interest, I was working with a client the other day. They're running Virtuals for their production environment. The machine was quite responsive... I asked "why?". He says "This server has fiber drives." They might be more expensive then SCSI but they sure showed me that the drive makes the biggest impact. (After adding every last bit of RAM the machine will take)
!