Anyone know the status of Intel VT-d (IO-MMU ) which allows direct GPU access by a VM

Posted:
in Mac Software edited January 2014
Can someone with recent experience comment about the support of DirectX9 gaming (and/or OpenGL 3D apps) within VMware or Parallels? Do most modern games run? what do you think the performance as a percentage of native performance is? 50%? 70%?



Also, Does anyone know the situation regarding "IO-MMU" support on Nehalem? Do current Nehalem chips support Intel's VT-d (IO-MMU) technology? Does VMWARE or Parallels products support this technology which would allow a Windows 7 virtual machine to directly access the GPU for native graphics performance?

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    MarvinMarvin Posts: 14,834moderator
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by winterspan View Post


    Can someone with recent experience comment about the support of DirectX9 gaming (and/or OpenGL 3D apps) within VMware or Parallels? Do most modern games run? what do you think the performance as a percentage of native performance is? 50%? 70%?



    DirectX 9 support is pretty good in that the games that work look quite nice but most modern games don't work properly in my experience and the performance is poor - no anti-aliasing support either. I'm not sure of an exact performance comparison as RAM allocation will have an effect and different games behave differently but I wouldn't put it much higher than 50% of running natively - even if a low-end game runs about the same speed, it will use way more resources to do so. Your CPU is pretty much always maxed out running a game in a VM.



    I use the VM for low-end point-and-click games and they usually run just fine but sometimes in-game movies don't play back properly. I tried to run Modern Warfare 2 but it just went to a black screen.



    I currently use VMWare 2 as I find it more stable than Parallels so it's likely you'd have better games support on either VMWare 3 or Parallels 5. This video compares them:



    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HmMLrpuyWac



    He concludes that Parallels 5 is much better for 3D gaming although there are still compatibility issues. Also, he was running it on a Mac Pro so he could assign multiple CPUs and 4GB Ram to the VM. Few people will have that luxury. It looked like it was very laggy but he replied to someone saying that was just the screen capture software.



    Quote:
    Originally Posted by winterspan View Post


    Also, Does anyone know the situation regarding "IO-MMU" support on Nehalem? Do current Nehalem chips support Intel's VT-d (IO-MMU) technology? Does VMWARE or Parallels products support this technology which would allow a Windows 7 virtual machine to directly access the GPU for native graphics performance?



    Parallels have a page for that feature but they only list usage examples for high end SLI Quadro workstations:



    http://www.parallels.com/uk/products/extreme/



    Q: On what hardware platforms is Parallels Workstation 4.0 Extreme currently certified to work on?



    A: Parallels Workstation Extreme works with select OEM Intel Xeon Processor 5500 Series Workstations with X58 Express Chipset.This platform is based on the new Intel® Xeon® Processor 5500 series (Nehalem), which enables users to fully exploit Intel® Virtualization Technology(Intel VT-x) and Intel® Virtualization Technology for Directed I/O (Intel® VT-d).

    In order to enable key applications and for users to optimize their productivity through the use of multi-GPU technologies, Parallels Workstation 4.0 Extreme takes advantage of NVIDIA?s latest SLI capability, SLI Multi-OS, a technology built into the NVIDIA® Quadro® FX 3800, FX 4800, and FX 5800 professional graphics solutions, connecting both the host and a guest virtual machine operating system in an Intel VT-d virtualized environment to its own dedicated GPU.



    In summary, I'd say that reliable VM gaming isn't quite there yet but your closest option will be Parallels 5.
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