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Amd vs intel for running VM

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  • Desktops
  • Intel i7
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January 1, 2013 9:01:11 AM

I recently purchased a new MBP Retina with the i7. My custom desktop is the one detailed here (except now it has two 128GB Crucial SSDs in RAID 0):

http://www.tomshardware.com/forum/forum2.php?config=tom...

I am noticing that, using Parallels (but also using Fusion, vs. desktop), the same VM runs so much more smoothly on my new laptop. Considering both have SSD, is this mostly due to the i7? Or perhaps lower overhead of OS X helps? The same VM feels very virtual under Win 7 (running it with either Parallels Workstation or VMWare Player).

Here's the thing - I don't really need the laptop, and am thinking of returning it. But after my additional tests (originally I only used VMWare Player, so I thought that switching to Parallels workstation on the Windows side would help, which it did, but still doesn't feel like bare metal), I have to conclude that my desktop is simply getting a bit old for the demand I am placing on it.

The poker apps I run are not heavy duty, but there are a lot of windows and UI refreshing going on. Also the poker room I play at is very inefficiently written, which might be the biggest contributing factor to workload.

Based on my rig link above, I don't think I have any easy upgrade path to try getting my desktop to work better, right? I'd have to buy a new MB either way, for AMD or Intel?

The thing is, since 2007 (and this includes during my time with the desktop), I primarily used my prior MBP until its mainboard finally gave up due to the nVidia bad batch of chips. I used to build all my systems before that, but to be honest, got kind of tired of it. I am wishing now I had gone i7 in my build above, perhaps it would still be useful to me today.

So to be more concrete, my questions are:

1) Can my perceived difference in performance be attributed mostly to the older CPU my desktop runs?

2) If so, is Intel going to be better than AMD for a single VM? I don't care about running several VMs, just one with the highest performance possible. (and I run in a VM for security purposes, I don't trust the poker client to not be scanning my drives, key input, etc.)

3) What would be a recommended budget and upgrade path for my desktop, if the above ar true to any extent?

4) I looked into running my poker stuff under a separate Win7 user account, but I don't believe this would provide much security. Or is this an option for securely running on the bare metal without using any VM (and in that case, I don't think I would need any upgrades on my desktop)? Or is there simply some other way I should be considering sandboxing the poker client (like firewall software, but something that can really block it from taking screenshots, key logging, browsing directories, etc. - I don't think there is, but am asking just in case).

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a c 78 à CPUs
January 1, 2013 2:06:38 PM

I was just going to try setting up a VM in my 6-core AMD rig when I realized that I have yet to install a disc drive.

My i7 desktop runs the two-core XP VM I set up like it's nothing.

I may just "steal" the dvd drive from my i7 rig long enough to set up a VM in the AMD rig and test.

(Then you will know if a 6-core phenom is a useful upgrade)

*edit* I'm just going to do it now...BRB

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a c 121 à CPUs
January 1, 2013 2:23:06 PM

You've left out some useful info. What OS is the VM (you may have provided that info, but I can't find it)? What model is your i7 laptop and what CPU is installed? If the laptop supports Vt-d and the desktop doesn't support IOMMU, then that could make the VM feel smoother on the laptop. The performance difference might also be the result of a faster Intel CPU (we'll know once you tell us which one you have).
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January 1, 2013 2:29:28 PM

Definitely looking forward to your test result - I know my MB will support the 6 core Phenom so that would indeed be a very easy upgrade, although I am not sure if it is any different from my current processor. But the other interesting result will be if you notice it being much slower on the AMD!

Also, question for you - are you using 32 bit or 64 bit Win XP? After all of my thinking, I realized I forgot that my client is the 32 bit WinXP, so I am going to try migrating all my programs to a 64 bit Win 7 VM instead!
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January 1, 2013 2:35:17 PM

GhislainG said:
You've left out some useful info. What OS is the VM (you may have provided that info, but I can't find it)? What model is your i7 laptop and what CPU is installed? If the laptop supports Vt-d and the desktop doesn't support IOMMU, then that could make the VM feel smoother on the laptop. The performance difference might also be the result of a faster Intel CPU (we'll know once you tell us which one you have).


See my above post on the VM client - I am thinking that is a strong possible reason. Although it's the same exact VM I am running on both machines (copied from one to the other to run locally). Do you think running 64 bit (either XP or 7) would be a big help? The reason I used WinXP 32 was for the smaller memory footprint on my older laptop, and because some of my software was not compatible with Win7 at the time (now it all should be).

The laptop is the macbook pro retina with the 2.6 Ghz option. (I am not sure offhand which exact chip revision it is if you need that info - I could look it up.)

I am familar with VT-d and thought that was a reason originally, but then it seemed that VMWare supports AMD's virtual extensions too, right? I am kind of ignorant on these details, is the idea that Intel's extensions are better performing? Or the AMD chip's extensions are older tech compared to their newer counterparts (whether AMD or Intel)?
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a c 78 à CPUs
January 1, 2013 2:52:25 PM

rockafella said:
Definitely looking forward to your test result - I know my MB will support the 6 core Phenom so that would indeed be a very easy upgrade, although I am not sure if it is any different from my current processor. But the other interesting result will be if you notice it being much slower on the AMD!

Also, question for you - are you using 32 bit or 64 bit Win XP? After all of my thinking, I realized I forgot that my client is the 32 bit WinXP, so I am going to try migrating all my programs to a 64 bit Win 7 VM instead!


32 bit, 4g ram, 2 cores. (this will be the same for both rigs)

I'm on the AMD rig now, It's installing the VM as I type and is smooth the 4-cores/12G RAM left over. (2 cores are running the VM install)
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a c 121 à CPUs
January 1, 2013 3:06:32 PM

I run VMs on two very similar systems. One is on Windows Server 2008 64-bit and the other is on Windows XP 32-bit (software that I use won't run on Windows 7). Performance of the same VM is very similar.

Don't confuse virtualization (it has to be supported by the CPU) with Vt-d and IOMMU (your AMD CPU supports it, but your motherbaord may not). I have an old Asus P5W DH Deluxe with an overclocked E6400. It runs Windows Server 2012 and Hyper-V as long as Vt-x and Execute Disable Function are enabled, but Vt-d is not available (not an issue as I'll build a new system with a Xeon E12xx v2 CPU).

The MacBook supports Vt-d: http://www.anandtech.com/show/6023/the-nextgen-macbook-... If it has the 2.6GHz i7, then it's significantly more powerful than your AMD CPU (and most AMD CPUs).
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a c 78 à CPUs
January 1, 2013 3:09:21 PM

The XP machine is up and running well. No discernible difference between the two, however, I' also overclocked @ 3.4 Ghz.

I'm going to try it at stock settings to see if that changes things.
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a c 121 à CPUs
January 1, 2013 3:29:31 PM

Z1NONLY said:
The XP machine is up and running well. No discernible difference between the two, however, I' also overclocked @ 3.4 Ghz.

I'm going to try it at stock settings to see if that changes things.

The OP wrote "The poker apps I run are not heavy duty, but there are a lot of windows and UI refreshing going on. Also the poker room I play at is very inefficiently written, which might be the biggest contributing factor to workload. " Are you running the same poker applications in your VM? Vt-d and IOMMU should help with that type of application, but it doesn't when running CPU intensive applications.
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a c 78 à CPUs
January 1, 2013 3:40:15 PM

GhislainG said:
Are you running the same poker applications in your VM?


Ummmm, no.

I was simply verifying the CPU's ability to run two operating systems at once. The list of possible applications that could be ran in each OS are almost endless.

It appears to run as a stand-alone AMD two-core CPU rig. Anything that would tax a two-core AMD rig should also tax this VM.

-And I just finished checking its operation at the stock 2.7Ghz. It's not as "peppy" as 3.4Ghz, but it still runs seamlessly, and switches back and forth between virtual and actual rigs.

OP, Make sure you have "visualization" enabled in your BIOS. And take a look at the resources you allocated to your VM.

You could also allocate 3 cores to your VM and leave only one core for your host OS. (If the VM is doing all the heavy lifting when you are running it)






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a c 121 à CPUs
January 1, 2013 5:01:06 PM

Based on reading that I've done, the faster i7 CPU probably is the reason why the VM is more responsive on the laptop. Vt-d and IOMMU most likely aren't supported by VMware Player.
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January 1, 2013 6:31:55 PM

Thanks to both of you for the feedback and the testing. I will check my BIOS but I think it's all enabled. (not sure if it means anything but in the VM it "sees" my actual processor, not a virtualized one) Enabling more cores hasn't helped, and I don't think any of the software is using any of that (i.e., they're not multithreaded - a newer version of the tracking program is, but that's not really the bottleneck). Perhaps using Win7 as a client would help if it assigned each of my programs to execute on a different core?

Regarding VMWare Player, I think you're right - the virtualization engine options are Automatic, Binary Transation, Intel VT-x or AMD-V, and Intel VT-x/EPT or AMD-V/RVI.

So Ghislain, am I correct in summarizing what you've said that (in general terms) the i7 supports better performing extensions for the VM engine to use, and in my case it does make a difference? Or it's showing better performance simply due to pure higher clock cycles/speed?

So in my case, the only way to get my VM with my workload to be peppy on my desktop is to upgrade the mobo to an i7 that supports VT-d? Or are we saying that if I upgrade my motherboard and keep the same phenom chip, things should run a lot smoother?
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January 1, 2013 6:34:40 PM

Z1NONLY said:
I was just going to try setting up a VM in my 6-core AMD rig when I realized that I have yet to install a disc drive.

My i7 desktop runs the two-core XP VM I set up like it's nothing.

I may just "steal" the dvd drive from my i7 rig long enough to set up a VM in the AMD rig and test.

(Then you will know if a 6-core phenom is a useful upgrade)

*edit* I'm just going to do it now...BRB


Actually I just came across this thread, the reply by threehosts makes sense. my chipset is the 790 or earler; may I ask which chipset you're using in your machine?

http://www.tomshardware.com/forum/523-71-intel-home#t19...

I guess I am still confused though as to whether Intel with VT-d will still be a better performer overall. I guess if I was going to replace my mobo, I might as well switch to Intel too, right GhislainG? But would switching be worth it, or might the updated chipset with my current cpu make for the biggest improvement?
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a c 78 à CPUs
January 1, 2013 6:44:03 PM

rockafella said:
Actually I just came across this thread, the reply by threehosts makes sense. my chipset is the 790 or earler; may I ask which chipset you're using in your machine?

http://www.tomshardware.com/forum/523-71-intel-home#t19...

I guess I am still confused though as to whether Intel with VT-d will still be a better performer overall. I guess if I was going to replace my mobo, I might as well switch to Intel too, right GhislainG? But would switching be worth it, or might the updated chipset with my current cpu make for the biggest improvement?


990fx.

Now that I think about it, the only reason my 6-core should perform better than your 4 core is if/when your host OS is demanding/needing more than two cores.

I would try upgrading the AMD chipset first. Just make sure you get it from a location that's not likely to hassle you for a return.

If you try it and like the results, you are done, and have saved a serious chunk of change.

If not, return it and go Intel.

If you are not using a lot of resources for the host OS when you run your VM, you should perform as well as my 6-core chips does or better. Two phenom II cores are two Phenom II cores, so unless the other two cores are stressed with the host OS, the two cores running your VM should do fine.
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a c 121 à CPUs
January 1, 2013 6:49:55 PM

Quote:
So Ghislain, am I correct in summarizing what you've said that (in general terms) the i7 supports better performing extensions for the VM engine to use, and in my case it does make a difference? Or it's showing better performance simply due to pure higher clock cycles/speed?
I'd say the higher performance of the Intel CPU definitely helps. In your case, the video card may also play a role.
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January 1, 2013 6:58:28 PM

Z1NONLY said:
990fx.

Now that I think about it, the only reason my 6-core should perform better than your 4 core is if/when your host OS is demanding/needing more than two cores.

I would try upgrading the AMD chipset first. Just make sure you get it from a location that's not likely to hassle you for a return.

If you try it and like the results, you are done, and have saved a serious chunk of change.

If not, return it and go Intel.

If you are not using a lot of resources for the host OS when you run your VM, you should perform as well as my 6-core chips does or better. Two phenom II cores are two Phenom II cores, so unless the other two cores are stressed with the host OS, the two cores running your VM should do fine.


I think everything is starting to make sense finally! Hopefully GhislainG will weigh in with his opinion on whether this chipset update will give the most bang for the buck, but it definitely looks like it. Luckily there is a Fry's Electronics locally so they have a great selection of parts and have a good return policy too.

Hopefully I will not have to reinstall Win7 (the host OS) and at most do a Repair to get it to work!
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January 1, 2013 7:22:05 PM

GhislainG said:
I'd say the higher performance of the Intel CPU definitely helps. In your case, the video card may also play a role.


I think my 5870 is not a bottleneck (I added it later - it's in my rig thread but not in the original description so you probably didn't see that). The graphics are not too complicated, just some stuff with the one software overlaying the heads up display over the tables.

I guess if I got an AM3+ motherboard I could always upgrade my Phenom to an FX series. Maybe the higher clock of that CPU would help too?

I think I'll read more about the chipset issue to see if I can find anyone else who's stayed with AMD and seen a big improvement. If it really has to be Intel to get it to be snappy, I'll probably keep the laptop, considering the upgrades to the desktop would be $700+ for the mobo, cpu, and ram.

Thanks again to both of you for the assistance!
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a c 78 à CPUs
January 1, 2013 7:25:10 PM

rockafella said:
I think my 5870 is not a bottleneck (I added it later - it's in my rig thread but not in the original description so you probably didn't see that). The graphics are not too complicated, just some stuff with the one software overlaying the heads up display over the tables.

I guess if I got an AM3+ motherboard I could always upgrade my Phenom to an FX series. Maybe the higher clock of that CPU would help too?

I think I'll read more about the chipset issue to see if I can find anyone else who's stayed with AMD and seen a big improvement. If it really has to be Intel to get it to be snappy, I'll probably keep the laptop, considering the upgrades to the desktop would be $700+ for the mobo, cpu, and ram.

Thanks again to both of you for the assistance!


I'm running a 5770 in my AMD rig ATM.

And you may not need another CPU. If you do go FX, get a piledriver and avoid bulldozer. (Piledriver = 4300, 6300, 8320, 8350)
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a c 121 à CPUs
January 1, 2013 7:51:31 PM

The 5870 definitely isn't a bottleneck. If you get a 990X chipset motherboard, you should make sure that it supports IOMMU just in case you ever want or need that feature.

You could read threads like http://communities.vmware.com/message/2080175 as they may be helpful.
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January 2, 2013 5:23:01 PM

Z1NONLY said:
Ummmm, no.

I was simply verifying the CPU's ability to run two operating systems at once. The list of possible applications that could be ran in each OS are almost endless.

It appears to run as a stand-alone AMD two-core CPU rig. Anything that would tax a two-core AMD rig should also tax this VM.

-And I just finished checking its operation at the stock 2.7Ghz. It's not as "peppy" as 3.4Ghz, but it still runs seamlessly, and switches back and forth between virtual and actual rigs.

OP, Make sure you have "visualization" enabled in your BIOS. And take a look at the resources you allocated to your VM.

You could also allocate 3 cores to your VM and leave only one core for your host OS. (If the VM is doing all the heavy lifting when you are running it)


Z1, I came across some other things to think about. First, I had forgotten to exclude my vm directories from my antivirus when moving them to my SSD. So I did that, but it didn't help. Are you running antivirus at all on your host?

More importantly, I am thinking maybe there is something to be done in the way of power management and my SSD. Do you have any power management turned on? I am going to try turning Cool n Quiet off on mine (it reduces the clock when it detects no load - my CPU monitor widget doesn't show it changing speed when I am noticing slow down in the VM, but perhaps it's cycling up and down too quickly to register there).

Also, does your AMD rig use an SSD, and does it use the onboard controller? RAID? (For some reason I still think my RAID 0 array is hurting my performance and not helping! Or that its installation in Windows is not right.)

Finally, you did say it wasn't as "peppy" at 2.7 Ghz - if you move a browser window around the desktop rapidly, do you notice any flickering/tearing? What about if you do a selection on the desktop and move that around changing the selection rapidly - do you notice the lines of the boundary being broken as you change the selection? Maybe that would help quantify what you mean by not "peppy" - it might be similar to what I am experiencing! (and then it would seem it's just an increase in CPU/clock that I need)
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a c 78 à CPUs
January 2, 2013 5:31:46 PM

rockafella said:
Z1, I came across some other things to think about. First, I had forgotten to exclude my vm directories from my antivirus when moving them to my SSD. So I did that, but it didn't help. Are you running antivirus at all on your host?

More importantly, I am thinking maybe there is something to be done in the way of power management and my SSD. Do you have any power management turned on? I am going to try turning Cool n Quiet off on mine (it reduces the clock when it detects no load - my CPU monitor widget doesn't show it changing speed when I am noticing slow down in the VM, but perhaps it's cycling up and down too quickly to register there).

Also, does your AMD rig use an SSD, and does it use the onboard controller? RAID? (For some reason I still think my RAID 0 array is hurting my performance and not helping! Or that its installation in Windows is not right.)

Finally, you did say it wasn't as "peppy" at 2.7 Ghz - if you move a browser window around the desktop rapidly, do you notice any flickering/tearing? What about if you do a selection on the desktop and move that around changing the selection rapidly - do you notice the lines of the boundary being broken as you change the selection? Maybe that would help quantify what you mean by not "peppy" - it might be similar to what I am experiencing! (and then it would seem it's just an increase in CPU/clock that I need)


I am running F-secure anti-virus and changed no settings when I did my VM. My host OS is on an SSD in both rigs and the VM is on an HDD in both rigs. The AMD rig has a SATA II SSD and an old 5400rpm HDD. The intel rig has a SATA III SSD and WD Black HDD.

I leave my power options in "balanced" so that my computer downclocks and undervolts when not being stressed.

Not as peppy was simply in regard to the time between clicking an application and the application running. Just a little more of a delay at lower clock speed.

I did not go on line with my recent experiment, but I did open a few different programs and switch back and forth between them with no issues.
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