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Virtual PC Platform?

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June 21, 2007 11:39:28 PM

I am currently looking to build a new PC for the purpose of running VirtualPC. I am torn between which processor platform to choose. It would be great if Tom's Hardware did a performance test with a system running 4GB of memory and having at least 4-6 active machines running at the same time.

Perhaps:

Configure two systems One AMD, one Intel;
Same amount and configuration of memory 4GB;
SATA 1: 80GB (OS Install)
(RAID)
SATA 2: 250-500GB
SATA 3: 250-500GB
(Storage for Virtual PC's)
Have 4-6 VPC's running at same time. What CPU performs better?

Alex Kiefer
www.nciteonline.com

More about : virtual platform

a b à CPUs
June 22, 2007 12:21:10 AM

I believe (with no word to back it up) that a dual core Core 2 Duo, or even the 4 core equivalent should do the job nicely. I think Intel's virtualisation is better supported than AMD's Pacifica. Don't take my word 100% on this though.
June 22, 2007 2:22:53 AM

If you're going to do virtual PC on Intel system, buy the ones with virtualization, which means C2D E6xxx series. It allows hardware virtualization for the C2D processor, thus faster
Related resources
June 22, 2007 12:20:46 PM

Also another question, 64-bit?
are core2duo 64-bit processors? I've been looking at intels site and they do not seem to make any mention of it. the only reason being 4GB of memory for the system i am thinking of designing 32-bit processors will only allocate approximatly 3 gigs.
June 22, 2007 12:23:44 PM

Quote:
Also another question, 64-bit?
the only reason being 4GB of memory for the system i am thinking of designing 32-bit processors will only allocate approximatly 3 gigs.


That's 3GB per process; they can address more than 4GB across all processes (64GB is the limit for an x86 chip, isn't it?)
June 22, 2007 1:06:20 PM

Depending on what the users are doing, you can fit a lot more users and virtual PCs than 6 on a dual core machine.

We have recently implemented Vmware running terminal services into each virtual machine. On a dual socket dual core opteron with 16GB memory we were running in the order of 70VMs (one user per VM) at 90% CPU utilization.
This was on BL85 blades (we and 20 of them in total)
a b à CPUs
June 22, 2007 1:47:47 PM

This is kind of an ancillary question. Virtualization is as much, if not more, a sotfware issue and function as it is a hardware issue. Whether the procs are "virtualization" capable seems to be more a matter of marketing hype than if the processor itself is "manufactured" to support VM's. Any newer processor is going to run more "efficiently" than older generation and given that C2D is the "top" performing processor right now, it stands to reason that it will run VM's better than an AM2. I hate to see this turn into an Intel vs AMD debate when it comes to running virtual pc's.

My opinion, snag yourself any last generation 2+Ghz dual core processor and max out the mobo with as much RAM as it can support. Then load it with linux (which distro is your preferrence) and install VMWare. My experience has been that VM's are more RAM hogs than processor hogs; so as long as the dual core proc is last gen it is going to have enough horsepwer to run at least 4-6 VM's. The underlying OS and VM platform and the amount of resources they use play a large role in how effective or efficient the VM's run, that's why I say run a linux distro and install VMWare.

Ever notice the hardware used by datacenters that run multiple VM's? They are mostly bladed servers with dual or quad socket mobos that support HUGE (32GB, 64GB) amounts of RAM.

What are you looking to run on the VM's? How do you plan to use them?
June 22, 2007 2:51:19 PM

Quote:
Any newer processor is going to run more "efficiently" than older generation and given that C2D is the "top" performing processor right now, it stands to reason that it will run VM's better than an AM2. I hate to see this turn into an Intel vs AMD debate when it comes to running virtual pc's.


Okay, I wasn't sure if the processors themselves were optimized to run VM's I figured that the architecture of the processor itself was different in some way.

Quote:
My opinion, snag yourself any last generation 2+Ghz dual core processor and max out the mobo with as much RAM as it can support. Then load it with linux (which distro is your preferrence) and install VMWare.


VMWare! I couldn't remember the name of the other virtual software out there thanks!

Quote:
My experience has been that VM's are more RAM hogs than processor hogs; so as long as the dual core proc is last gen it is going to have enough horsepwer to run at least 4-6 VM's. The underlying OS and VM platform and the amount of resources they use play a large role in how effective or efficient the VM's run, that's why I say run a linux distro and install VMWare.


Okay that sounds reasonable. Recommend and distro of Linux? I wonder if DSL would work?

Quote:
What are you looking to run on the VM's? How do you plan to use them?


Well for college right now I need to build a system that can bettter handle my lab VM's so Server2003 (up to 3), Vista (maybe), Windows XP, etc. as well as linux distros. I mainly want to use it for testing software purposes as well as writing tutorials for the IT club at the National College. I run VirtualPC now on my dual xeon but the processors are only at 550mhz and total system memory is 2gb (pc-100) and it is slow!

Thank you for the reply,

Alex Kiefer
www.nciteonline.com
members.cox.net/kiefer.alex
June 22, 2007 2:54:04 PM

What I just bought for almost this exact purpose was a Quad Core Xeon server from Dell.

http://hotdlz.com/link/?b25ac15cabe1727fcd02973ccdab60f...

I generally build my own boxes, and have for many, many years but look into a Poweredge 1430SC. Quad-core 1.6 Xeon (with one available socket), 2gb RAM for $850.
____________________

To answer your question though, either one will be ok, if you're adamant about going that route. An X2 6000 or 5800 is a great buy, as are other procs. If you're willing to wait a few weeks, get a Quad Core from Intel for sub-$300.
June 22, 2007 2:55:42 PM

At work I run 3-4 virtual machines constantly, these Virtual Servers are running different versions of large Finance system so they are running services and queries constantly against a database which is on the host machine.

The machine I use is a Dell Precision 390

C2D E6600
4GB Ram
Everything else is Dell Branded

If I allocate 512MB RAM to each VM then I have no performance problems at all. If I have a VM open as a basic XP install you can easily get away with only giving the machine 256MB and it will run OK.

My top tip would be to stay away from the Microsoft Virtual PC and Virtual Server and download VMWare Server. The beauty of VMWare is that its free and performs better. Obviously workstation has alot more features like drag and droping of files into your VM from the host but it will cost you a license.
June 22, 2007 3:06:57 PM

Benchmarking shows that Virtualization in hardware gives little if any benefit, and sometimes hurts performance as software is not yet optimized for it. Get the fastest/most CPU(s) you can buy, and max out RAM... That's where VMs will get you is RAM utilization.
June 22, 2007 3:21:42 PM

Okay so the jist of it the CPU really doesn't matter. Buy the fastest CPU i can afford and buy as much memory that can be installed.

Cache size i think still matters though doesn't it? my dual Xeons have 1mb each and it runs better than a 1ghz duron based system i built for my dad.

so a system with 4GB, fast cpu, plenty of starage space should do it.

Thank you everyone,

Alex
June 22, 2007 3:27:44 PM

CPU cache will also help, but not as much with Athlon 64s and Core2 Duos as it used to in older processors.

Your gist is right... fast CPUs and multiple cores combined with as much RAM as money can buy is the route to go.

That's why (without knowing your budget) I recommended the server box I just bought. It arrived on Wednesday, and is ultra-quiet. 4 CPU cores is perfect, and for an extra $150-200, you can put 4gb of RAM in it. $1000 for a server with 4 CPUs and 4gb of RAM is incredible (plus it comes with an add'l 500gb of HDD and PLENTY of SATA slots for expansion)
June 22, 2007 3:34:44 PM

Also, when building a DIY, keep in mind that while Intels are the best performing, AMD's overall platform costs tend to be less for similar performance.

If I were building a DIY box for VMs, I'd wait till the price cuts from Intel and buy their Quad Core CPU for ~$260.

If I were building one today, I'd buy an Athlon 5800 and a good brand motherboard.

However, my choice was made when I saw that deal on Hotdlz. Dell E-Value code 6W300 - bsdwf2g - it expires 6/27... $886 in instant savings.

If you've never bought from Dell Small Business, just make up a business name "Jo Schmo Inc"... they don't really care.
June 22, 2007 4:31:15 PM

I have a complete Win2K3 environment that I run in my home that consisted of 5 servers (Exchange, Web, DC, Multimedia, Firewall) I wanted to add a second web box and a general purpose file server however was getting sick of looking at a rack full of machines in my garage generating heat, chewing up power, and making lots of noise, so I virtualized the whole environment...

Built an AMD x2 4800 with 4GB of ram, a decent AM2 mobo. I have four 120gb drives one for the OS and images - three each with the VM's split among them (considered raid, but didn't want to spend a lot for a hardware raid solution), running Ubuntu 7.04 (Server) and VMWare and it's simply awesome. I currently have 7 machines running on one hardware platform, with room to add a couple more if need be - I'm even running my media server and serving off HD files for playback to my HTPC from a virtual machine....

AMD's Virtualization technology is a little more advanced than Intel's (every large IT shop I know of running VMWare ESX is using Opteron based servers to do it) on so that's why I went with AMD - and when I can get a cheap quad core for this board I'll drop it in....

Also - use VMware (I'm sure someones already said this) they are hands down further along than Microsoft in their implementations. Virtual Server is "OK" and free but you have to run it on top of Windows which means less memory resources available for VM's (we all know that Windows is a RAM hog) where VMWare Server (also free) sitting on top of Linux distro like Ubuntu Server takes less than 100MB of RAM (before adding virtual machines obviously) to get up and running.
June 22, 2007 5:10:38 PM

Quote:
every large IT shop I know of running VMWare ESX is using Opteron based servers to do it


Except ours. ;)  We have 2 HP DL380's with Intel Xeon 3.06 Ghz processors. Still runs like a champ.
June 22, 2007 6:09:31 PM

And ours... In fact we have a 14 server VMWare ESX environment, of which 12 boxes are Intel. Any will be fine if none of the servers are heavily utilized... make sure you build in with enough RAM.

VMWare server is more advanced than MS Virtual PC, but less advanced than MS Virtual Server. ESX is clearly the way to go if you have the cash but if it were me I'd either go VMWare or MS Virtual Server. It might be worth it to get a license for VMWare workstation...
June 22, 2007 6:19:23 PM

We have 6 servers in VMWare environment as well on Intel Xeon servers. They run extremely well using Virtual Server 2005 R2 as well
June 22, 2007 7:54:56 PM

The other 'slight'? issue with Virtual Server is that it only supports 32-bit guest operating systems, so if you want/need to run a 64-bit os you need to run it under vmware.
June 22, 2007 8:46:49 PM

Please choose VMWare it is by far the best option I have tried Virtual PC which is terrible and Server is not much better especially running enterprise packages. It may be OK for DC's etc.. but dont run anything big on them they grind to a halt.

I am not sure of the hardware but I know my config at work does the job for me as I support upto 5 different versions of our software and VMWare reduces the machine overhead to 1 my local machine rathet than 6.

I find if you are going to RDP into these VM's then that can also slow them down because they need alot more RAM as each RDP is a new session running its own services.

The VMware console is also much better so if its just local testing there is no need to RDP as MS Virtual Server to get best viewing results you need to rdp to them.

And obviosuly VMWare supports many more OS's

Mandatory Requirements

As much RAM as possible 8 GB if you can install XP 64 or Enterprise 2003
C2D or Xeons, I have heard alot about AMD and VMWare performance but I have always been an Intel man so they could be good also.
June 22, 2007 11:18:30 PM

Quote:
Mandatory Requirements

As much RAM as possible 8 GB if you can install XP 64 or Enterprise 2003
C2D or Xeons, I have heard alot about AMD and VMWare performance but I have always been an Intel man so they could be good also.


I've seen this RAM statement throughout this thread and it's just not a static requirement. If you are running 1 VM, you can get by with 2GB of RAM. If you are running 16 VMs, then the RAM requirement goes up.

There's just no need for 8 GB of RAM in the host machine if you are not hosting many VMs. It's wasted memory, unless of course, you decide to allocate all of it to 1 or 2 VMs. You need to figure out the RAM requirement for the software each VM will run and sum it up to get the required total.

As for RDP slowing down the VMs, I've never seen that. All of our VMs are as responsive as physical machines (granted these are light duty VMs). Also, the Intel processors are fine.
June 23, 2007 12:10:41 AM

Quote:
Mandatory Requirements

As much RAM as possible 8 GB if you can install XP 64 or Enterprise 2003
C2D or Xeons, I have heard alot about AMD and VMWare performance but I have always been an Intel man so they could be good also.


I've seen this RAM statement throughout this thread and it's just not a static requirement. If you are running 1 VM, you can get by with 2GB of RAM. If you are running 16 VMs, then the RAM requirement goes up.

There's just no need for 8 GB of RAM in the host machine if you are not hosting many VMs. It's wasted memory, unless of course, you decide to allocate all of it to 1 or 2 VMs. You need to figure out the RAM requirement for the software each VM will run and sum it up to get the required total.

As for RDP slowing down the VMs, I've never seen that. All of our VMs are as responsive as physical machines (granted these are light duty VMs). Also, the Intel processors are fine.

Agreed on scaling your ram on the host computer to fit the needs of the VM's you're running - I will however say that when you put VMWare on a Windows host - the RAM requirements are much higher just on the host side - running VMWare on a Linux host the RAM requirements are *substantially* lower allowing for more VM's on a box....
June 23, 2007 12:17:01 AM

Quote:
Agreed on scaling your ram on the host computer to fit the needs of the VM's you're running - I will however say that when you put VMWare on a Windows host - the RAM requirements are much higher just on the host side - running VMWare on a Linux host the RAM requirements are *substantially* lower allowing for more VM's on a box....


I use ESX so I'm not sure about the lower end VMWare products. That's a good thing to know.
June 23, 2007 12:23:17 AM

Sorry to clarify

More RAM is king when using VM's, if you want a few VM's then you need to upscale the RAM as the I have found that it is the limiting factor over the CPU especially when using a C2D. I use my machine as my working desktop i.e standard workspace apps like Outlook, Call Logging System, Internet etc.. I also host 3 or 4 active VMWares at the same time, my system handles all this without slowing down my main workspace

Also to clarify if you have a few VM's running and a number of people RDP to them and open applications the 512 or 1 GB or RAM you allocate soon dwindles so everything is fully paged, depends on how RAM hungry the apps you run are. You do not need to RDP if you are going to be accessing the VM's on your main workspace as the console deals with all that.

VMWare has saved so mmuch time and money but I would definitely reccomend Workstation it is so much better in performance and ease of use. Pay the license, my company wont because they are Microsoft Gold Partners and they get MS Virtual Server free.........
June 23, 2007 12:28:31 AM

Quote:
Agreed on scaling your ram on the host computer to fit the needs of the VM's you're running - I will however say that when you put VMWare on a Windows host - the RAM requirements are much higher just on the host side - running VMWare on a Linux host the RAM requirements are *substantially* lower allowing for more VM's on a box....


I cannot comment on Linux because I have not used it because we have VMWare on our local machines to replicate different versions on our software.

I know peeps at work who love linux especially running Oracle DB on it, however Oracle is like VMWare it is a RAM hog so Linux is a RAM whore you could say....
June 23, 2007 2:51:33 AM

Quote:
however Oracle is like VMWare it is a RAM hog so Linux is a RAM whore you could say....


I'm not sure what you're saying here by comparing Oracle to VMWare to Linux. Maybe I missed an important bit of information, but none of those products are even in the same category. :?

Oracle can be a RAM hog, but it depends on how you configure it. 10g can be loaded in as little as 300MB and 9i goes lower than that (I believe 150-200M can be used). However, depending on the number of users connecting and the number of shared SQL statements, if any, you'd like to cache, of course you're going to use more RAM.

As for RDP, that also applies to physical servers too, not just VMs. Load up a 2003 server 512MB of RAM and you'll surely be limited by the number of concurrent users whether it is virtual or physical.
June 23, 2007 11:26:40 PM

Well here are my thoughts on the PC. I'm going to custom build and not buy a dell even though the quad core is amazing I want to mount my system in an old pc case i have to match my other PC.

I was thinking along the line of:
Gigabyte mainboard (one of the new ultra durable 2 series)
Core2duo (upgrade to quad when price goes down)
4GB of memory to start (upgrade when necessary)

My primary drive would be an 80GB
Partitioned:
Winxp 64-bit - Virtual PC/Server
Linux distro - VMWare

Other drives raid for storage of VM's

VM's range:
Server 2003 enterprise
Windows XP
Windows 98
Windows 2000 server/workstation
Linux distros
etc.

that's about all i can think of.. thanks for the feedback everyone gave me it was extremely helpful!

Alex Kiefer
http://www.nciteonline.com
http://members.cox.net/kiefer.alex
June 24, 2007 1:14:29 PM

Quote:
Core2duo (upgrade to quad when price goes down)


Alex,

You might just monitor your CPU load while you're doing your work in your VMs. We have about 10 VMs on a dual Xeon 3.06 Ghz machine, which are used constantly, but lightly, and the CPU never gets over 30-40%. Usually, the CPU remains in the 10-15% range, so a quad core may be a waste of money.
June 24, 2007 11:17:06 PM

You might well be better off not using RAID for a VM farm. I would keep the drives independent and spread the VMs across them including the O/S drive provided it isn’t used too intensively. This is only applicable if the VMs are used simultaneously because then the RAID array will be slower than using separate drives. i.e. 3 VMs trying to access one RAID array is slower than each VM accessing its own drive.
Whether this makes sense will depend on usage patterns, number of VMs and other parameters such as how many discs your case can support.

Hardware is getting so cheap that you can ‘almost’ run a specialised PC for 8 VMs on an 8 Core Xeon system with 8GB RAM and 8 SATA drives for a surprisingly small amount. The high cost of FB-DIMMS is what makes this an almost.
a b à CPUs
June 24, 2007 11:38:14 PM

Yes, Intel's C2D is 100% 64-bit compatible, as all new modern processors from both AMD and Intel are, so don't worry about 64-bit OS incompatibilities. Whatever you choose you will be fine.
June 25, 2007 12:06:31 AM

Quote:
You might well be better off not using RAID for a VM farm. I would keep the drives independent and spread the VMs across them including the O/S drive provided it isn’t used too intensively.


This is exactly what I did for my home environment and it's working quite well - I have my VM's spread across three independent drives and my OS on a fourth. Works very well.... :lol: 
a c 99 à CPUs
June 25, 2007 3:44:49 AM

Quote:
I am currently looking to build a new PC for the purpose of running VirtualPC. I am torn between which processor platform to choose. It would be great if Tom's Hardware did a performance test with a system running 4GB of memory and having at least 4-6 active machines running at the same time.

Perhaps:

Configure two systems One AMD, one Intel;
Same amount and configuration of memory 4GB;
SATA 1: 80GB (OS Install)
(RAID)
SATA 2: 250-500GB
SATA 3: 250-500GB
(Storage for Virtual PC's)
Have 4-6 VPC's running at same time. What CPU performs better?

Alex Kiefer
www.nciteonline.com


If Virtual PC is anything like VMware (I use VMware as it'll run and virtualize almost any OS) these things affect your performance the most, or at least they do for me:

1. The ability of your disk subsystem to handle I/O requests.
2. The ability of the motherboard/chipset/disk controller to handle the disk I/O.
3. Amount of installed RAM.
4. Number of CPU cores.
5. Ability of the OS to handle resources.
6. Speed of the CPU cores.

HDD I/O capacity is the biggest limiting factor in VM performance as the OS must not only be read from the HDD but much of the memory is as well. This generally requires a disk array to handle well and the controller/bus has a lot to do with the performance of the array.

The next is memory as each VM has to allocate the maximum amount of RAM VM uses as virtual memory (and later, as real memory.) You'll need quite a bit of RAM to ensure that a bunch of VMs don't cause a bunch of swapping. Swapping is especially bad with VMs as it ties up the HDDs that are already getting pounded with I/O requests.

More CPU cores can help a system handle more VMs as a full-on VM like VMware wraps all of the guest OS's hardware calls and translates them into something that the host OS can execute. This requires several CPU operations in the guest for each CPU operation in the host for some tasks. Having more CPU cores than you have VMs allocating CPU cores ensures that both the VMs get to hog their CPUs and also have some processing power left in the host OS to power administrative functions.

The power of the OS to handle lots of I/O requests, threads, and resources is important, also. An OS that is bloated will obviously bog things down. But one that is also poorly tuned to handle a lot of CPU time splitting and thread handling will also bog things down as well. Older versions of Windows were rather bad at that, with one process being allowed to hog an entire CPU's time and locking up an entire system.

Lastly, the speed of the CPU cores comes into play. The CPUs generally have to wait on other things like disk I/O rather than being the bottleneck themselves. A faster CPU may help, but I'd go for a better disk array, more RAM, or more CPU cores over faster ones for running VMs.
a c 99 à CPUs
June 25, 2007 4:05:27 AM

Quote:

Okay that sounds reasonable. Recommend and distro of Linux? I wonder if DSL would work?


IIRC DSL is a 2.4 series kernel. You'd be better served by a 2.6 kernel. Just about any distribution that has a "minimal" install mode will work fine- SUSE, Ubuntu, Gentoo, etc. Most distros are more alike than not when running in text mode or with a minimal X install. I generally see 120 MB or so of RAM being used in my x86_64 Gentoo install when I am in text mode and I've seen very similar usage figures from FC6 boxes (those are the ones I've used.)

If I had to recommend a distro, use SUSE, RHEL, Ubuntu, Debian, or Fedora because VMware has prebuilt packages for those distros. I run Gentoo and VMware works fine, but it's much easier to just install the prebuilt binary straight off than add a Portage overlay that uses alien to extract the binaries out of the RPM, execute custom scripts to set up an xinetd, etc. like I did. Just use what you're either familiar with or what someone you know is familiar with as Linux is basically Linux once you really get down to it.
June 25, 2007 5:59:53 AM

What will you do with your virtual machines? If it is something like below, where all servers could be combined on one OS and virtual machine where all listed functions would run faster without the overhead of virtualization and cheaper w/o the software, it will be a waste of time and money.
Quote:
I have a complete Win2K3 environment that I run in my home that consisted of 5 servers (Exchange, Web, DC, Multimedia, Firewall) I wanted to add a second web box and a general purpose file server however was getting sick of looking at a rack full of machines in my garage generating heat, chewing up power, and making lots of noise, so I virtualized the whole environment...

Virtualization makes sense where one typically combines multiple OS'/OS-level configurations.
June 25, 2007 6:05:34 AM

Quote:
Depending on what the users are doing, you can fit a lot more users and virtual PCs than 6 on a dual core machine.

We have recently implemented Vmware running terminal services into each virtual machine. On a dual socket dual core opteron with 16GB memory we were running in the order of 70VMs (one user per VM) at 90% CPU utilization.
This was on BL85 blades (we and 20 of them in total)


Application Servers/Terminal Services is another area where virtualization makes sense.
June 25, 2007 1:35:19 PM

Quote:
What will you do with your virtual machines? If it is something like below, where all servers could be combined on one OS and virtual machine where all listed functions would run faster without the overhead of virtualization and cheaper w/o the software, it will be a waste of time and money.
I have a complete Win2K3 environment that I run in my home that consisted of 5 servers (Exchange, Web, DC, Multimedia, Firewall) I wanted to add a second web box and a general purpose file server however was getting sick of looking at a rack full of machines in my garage generating heat, chewing up power, and making lots of noise, so I virtualized the whole environment...

Virtualization makes sense where one typically combines multiple OS'/OS-level configurations.

Actually - I hardly consider doing it a waste of time and money - the box was cheap to build, Linux and VMWare were free, and I went from having 7 physical boxes in my garage sucking power to 2 physical machines, one a web server I can't virtualize and the VMWare box running evertyhing else...how can saving energy be a waste of money - or time, given that I learned quite a bit doing it.... :?

Performance wise, given the hardware the machines were on, across the board I'm getting better performance....
June 25, 2007 2:38:37 PM

I know I will get hit by the VMware crowd for this but... If you are using Microsoft OS systems in the guests then seriously consider MS Virtual Server R2 SP1, it really is a good, stable, simple product. With a CPU with virtual additions, it's just as fast as VMware, and there is official support from Microsoft were any MS product is guaranteed to work in a virtual server setup (no such guarantee from VMware – in fact I have heard problems with running SQL Server in VMware for example).. Virtual Server also has the killer app of being able to backup the guest systems (full system state) from the same host while they are running – VMWare as I believe can’t do this..

There are 2 downsides to MS Virtual Server, no guest SMP and no guest 64bit, but these were non issues for me.
June 25, 2007 3:08:41 PM

Quote:
I know I will get hit by the VMware crowd for this but... If you are using Microsoft OS systems in the guests then seriously consider MS Virtual Server R2 SP1, it really is a good, stable, simple product. With a CPU with virtual additions, it's just as fast as VMware, and there is official support from Microsoft were any MS product is guaranteed to work in a virtual server setup (no such guarantee from VMware – in fact I have heard problems with running SQL Server in VMware for example).. Virtual Server also has the killer app of being able to backup the guest systems (full system state) from the same host while they are running – VMWare as I believe can’t do this..

There are 2 downsides to MS Virtual Server, no guest SMP and no guest 64bit, but these were non issues for me.


*WHACK* just kidding.. :)  To note though, I have a couple of SQL Server instances on ESX 2.5 with no problems.
June 25, 2007 3:45:01 PM

Quote:
I know I will get hit by the VMware crowd for this but... If you are using Microsoft OS systems in the guests then seriously consider MS Virtual Server R2 SP1, it really is a good, stable, simple product. With a CPU with virtual additions, it's just as fast as VMware, and there is official support from Microsoft were any MS product is guaranteed to work in a virtual server setup (no such guarantee from VMware – in fact I have heard problems with running SQL Server in VMware for example).. Virtual Server also has the killer app of being able to backup the guest systems (full system state) from the same host while they are running – VMWare as I believe can’t do this..

There are 2 downsides to MS Virtual Server, no guest SMP and no guest 64bit, but these were non issues for me.


The no 64bit guest support is what kills Virtual Server straight away along with lackluster Linux support...I work for a company that is, for reasons I can't say, *has* to use Microsoft products and even with that mandate we use VMWare ESX for virtualization because of the lack of 64 bit support and the Linux testing we do when no one is looking...
June 25, 2007 6:21:39 PM

Whatever you choose may not be fine.

http://www.intel.com/design/pentium4/datashts/306382.ht...

Intel CPU's require support not just on the chip but also in the chipset and the BIOS, the PDF attached to that link gives excellent summary of the Intel Virtualisation platform.

When you purchase a motherboard (or a system) make very sure that the supplier understands that you will be using it for virtualisation and make them confirm it will both recognise VT and allow you to enable the VT function. Many consumer level Intel based Motherboards either do not support the function or recognise it but lock it off. Some of the newer boards will recognise the function and allow you to enable it (most set it to off in the BIOS by default).

Intel 6xx Core Duo chips support VT hardware assisted virtualisation Some P4's do

AMD K8 chips after Stepping F support the AMD hardware assisted virtualisation.

From experience I would recommend spending as much as you can on RAM and a decent HD sub-system. For us memory and memory bandwidth is the killer closely followed by Hard Disc I/O, even with a relatively low number of VM's. Under heavy load we have never maxed out the CPU's with a total of 50 VM's running Memory and Disc throughput is always the limiting factor, you may want to consider spending more on that than the CPU.

Any of the VM products will do the job, although we use VMware we have demo'd/tested Virtual Iron and have demo'd VirtualPC, all do the job, we also run a range of apps including small scale SQL servers (and no VMware has no problems with it) although (IMO) if you are running an SQL server you shouldn't be running it on a VM anyway.
June 25, 2007 7:18:33 PM

No offense but when you said:

Quote:
I have a complete Win2K3 environment that I run in my home that consisted of 5 servers (Exchange, Web, DC, Multimedia, Firewall)


...I thought you had all of them running on Win2K3. Had this been the case, you could have run all these server roles on one instance of Win2K3, if you know what I'm saying.

...and in this case it would have been a waste of money. Not the VM but five boxes you had built :) 

Quote:
Performance wise, given the hardware the machines were on, across the board I'm getting better performance....

Sure. A Web server, file server, firewall, Exchange hardly need muscles - unless you have millions of hits but you would have hired an office with an appropriate server room in this case instead of using your home :) 

Quite frankly, a Willimate is good enough for all above tasks.
June 26, 2007 1:25:11 AM

Quote:
No offense but when you said:

I have a complete Win2K3 environment that I run in my home that consisted of 5 servers (Exchange, Web, DC, Multimedia, Firewall)


...I thought you had all of them running on Win2K3. Had this been the case, you could have run all these server roles on one instance of Win2K3, if you know what I'm saying.

...and in this case it would have been a waste of money. Not the VM but five boxes you had built :) 

Quote:
Performance wise, given the hardware the machines were on, across the board I'm getting better performance....

Sure. A Web server, file server, firewall, Exchange hardly need muscles - unless you have millions of hits but you would have hired an office with an appropriate server room in this case instead of using your home :) 

Quite frankly, a Willimate is good enough for all above tasks.

Nah, no offense taken man - it was early for me so if I came off as snippy it's because I just got up and was rushing out the door to catch the bus to work -

I did have them all running on 2K3 as seperate physical boxes (built out of hardware that would have otherwise sat around and went to the dump in a couple years) but my power bill is too high and VMWare was something new to learn - which is primarily why I maintain an full envoronment at home in the first place....
!