Wednesday, June 29, 2011

VMware Hardware Assisted Virtualization with Windows Server 2003 x32

VMware recently published KB 2001372 regarding the use of Hardware-assisted virtualization offered by Intel VT-x and AMD-V with Windows Server 2003 SP2 32 bit. To summarize the article:
  • Pre SP2 it was more efficient to use binary translation (software).
  • Starting with SP2, using Intel VT-x or AMD-V could provide significant performance improvements, depending on workload of course.
  • A VM with "Guest OS" set to "Microsoft Windows Server 2003, ...", will use binary translation by default(the Automatic selection).
I wanted to do a few rudimentary tests to see if it might be worth changing on my Windows Server 2003 SP2 VMs. These are by no stretch incredibly technical tests - my intentions were to see if changing to hardware assisted virtualization helped, and hopefully I might appreciate similar results in more typical workloads. I performed two tests: The first was VM boot-up to Login screen, the seconds was using the Memory Performance Tester by Joey Dieckhans that can be downloaded from Eric Sloof's website. I ran two separate Windows 2003 SP2 VM's through the tests.

Starting with boot up times - I found a consistent 3% to 4% improvement with hardware-assisted virtualization turned on (instruction set and MMU). Most probably don't cycle their Windows servers through enough reboots to find value in this alone, but longer term, it will be interesting to record how normal workloads might benefit.

With the Memory Performance Tester tool there was near zero change in the "MB per Second" figure in either configuration. I also monitored the CPU load in the VM during the memory test and found the same - no difference.

I look forward to trying this setting in a few pilot VMs and comparing their performance to past trends.

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1 comment:

Peter said...

would appreciate seeing follow up performance results as you test on your blog..thanks for the link