Contributor
Contributor

Fusion on Leopard high idle CPU

Hi guys,

I just got my brand new MacBook, installed Leopard on it and all and slapped Fusion 1.1 stable on top. Installed WinXP SP2 (VLK) and Office 2008, the works. The idle CPU usage of my vm is very high (10-15% in MenuMeters), while a vm on my Mac Pro only idles at around 4%.

Is there something I misconfigured, maybe inside the guest itself? Can you please point me at where to even start looking?

I am running a MacBook Pro, 2.2ghz. 4 gigs of ram, Leopard 10.5.1, latest stable Fusion 1.1.1.

Thanks!

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14 Replies
Immortal
Immortal

10-15% is normal on a MacBook Pro - the guest OS has certain overhead on the host, particularly for timer emulation, even though the guest is idle. It gets worse if you connect virtual USB devices.

On a Mac Pro, the CPU load is spread across more cores, so the overhead appears less than on a single CPU (dual core) MacBook Pro.

Contributor
Contributor

Thanks for the quick response.

So, in essense, there is no way to get rid of that constant CPU usage? That wasnt the case in Linux, which I just moved from, where VMWare will idle at very low. I am not familiar with the system timer schematics over in OSX, but I am familiar with the ones insite the Linux kernel. What is the major difference affecting peformance?

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Enthusiast
Enthusiast

Activity Monitor shows Fusion + XP SP2 idling on 10.4.10 on my Mac Pro with a 0.4% (VMware Fusion) plus 8.6% (vmware-vmx) CPU load.

I have a QuicKeys keyboard shortcut that hides the current application. I've customized this shortcut for Fusion to Suspend Guest before hiding the Fusion window. This eliminates the vmware-vmx CPU load, leaving the VMware Fusion process with only a 0.5% CPU load.

Contributor
Contributor

Hey WardC,

I need this thing to be running all the time, since I use it to access our Exchange server at the office and some other office needs.

Thanks for the response!

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Contributor
Contributor

I noticed this on my new MacBook too. I've been using VMWare Server for a while on PC architectures and they idle on a few percent CPU, even hosting multiple VMs. I'm not convinced that Fusion ought to be using 15% of such a modern CPU at idle - I thought the Intel VT extensions are supposed to dramatically help.

Regarding BIOS/IRQ/timer emulation - surely the fact that a MacBook has an EFI firmware can't be to blame since when running a VM on normal x86 hardware you also need to emulate these features for each guest. Is there something I'm not understanding correctly?

EDIT - I found a post on here warning about opening Task Manager's Performance Tab in the Guest - seems to put it in positive feedback up to 100%! My XP SP2 VM's vmware-vmx process seems to stay on 8.9% now which is fine - and I'm guessing is actually 4.5% on aggregate.

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Enthusiast
Enthusiast

I'm not sure what the cause, but I can confirm that of 3 different VMs I have (2 Win XP, 1 RHEL4), all idle approx 10% higher on Fusion than they do when running on VMWare Server under either Linux or Win2k3. I've been unable to figure out why.

I've tried installing the VMWare tools shipped with fusion as well as the "Upgrade Virtual Machine" option, which I presume updates the virtual hardware. Neither option has any effect on idle CPU usage. The RHEL VM is particuarly troublesome for me as I have it running all day. This VM idles at less than 3% on Linux and Win2k3 Server hosts. It idles between 15-18% on Fusion.

it would be great if anyone had some suggestions that might either reduce idle consumption or help identify the cause of the discrepancy.

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Contributor
Contributor

I'm running a linux guest operating system on my MacBook Pro and it takes 30% cpu when it's idling. When I run the same vm on my pc it idles at 1-2%. Please fix this, it's wearing out my cpu fans.

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Contributor
Contributor

I had a similar problem with a Windows Server 2003 vm taking close to 50% of a dual-core macbook pro when it was idling. This vm was created by imaging a dual-processor AMD box. A fresh image created from the Windows Server 2003 install disks is idling at less than 20%, so I have solved the problem by migrating to this new vm.

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Contributor
Contributor

My Fusion is taking 35-50% of the dual core CPUs. Before I upgraded to 1.1.1, it used to run at 10%. Any ideas?

Also when I put my MacBook Pro to sleep, and bring it up again, the Fusion CPU usage goes way up.

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Virtuoso
Virtuoso

It really what software you have installed inside the VM. Some software will bang on hardware or look for it having no guest CPU but affecting the virtual machine. Things like the iTunes helper, Picasa's removable media checker, and other software can cause this.

I installed a fresh XP SP2, IE 7, WMP 11, and Office 2007 with all updates installed and my idle Mac CPU is 4-6% when running. Attaching USB devices will raise the Macs' CPU usage as well. If you don't need a USB device, make sure to disconnect it so you don't waste CPU cycles.

Personally, I would go into the Windows process manager and determine what background processes you can kill that might help.

NOTE: This is on a 20" iMac Core 2 Duo running Mac OS X Leopard 10.5.2

Pat

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Contributor
Contributor

Just wanted to chime in on the "fusion uses reasonable" cpu usage side of the fence. I've got a MBP C2D 2.33 with 3 GB of RAM with 10.5.2 that runs a clone of a WinXP box from work. It's always on, and connected via VPN to our corp LAN 90% of the time. I usually have MS Word & Excel 2003 and Lotus running on the VM. While I'm working on Mac apps, the VM will idle at 6.5-8%. Occasionally the corp antivirus kicks in which will peg the cpu.

I also have an Ubuntu 7.10 Server VM which runs at 2.3% at idle.

The other thing to keep in mind is running VMs with 2 cpus will use more cpu cycles at idle than a single cpu VM.

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Contributor
Contributor

My situation is worse, and consistently so. When I realized how bad it was, I started running Mac's Activity Monitor all the time. After my typical use of Windows, my Mac's CPU usage shows 90% or more.

  • Macbook Pro 2.33GHz Core 2 Duo

  • 3GB of RAM

  • Book Camp Partition formatted NTFS

  • VMWare Fusion 1.1.2

  • Windows XP SP2

  • 2056 MB allocated to Windows (I have tried other settings to no avail)

  • 2 virtual processors allocated to VM

  • 3D Acceleration turned off

  • I tried with and without being a member of a Windows domain (no effect)

  • No USB devices are logically connected to the VM through

All percentages I talk about below are fromActivity Monitor, with fluctuations of a few percent normal..

  1. When I boot Windows and let it sit at the login screen, it idles to no lower than 13.1%

  2. When I am booted up/logged in, it idles to no less than 26.6%.

  3. If I kill "DetectorApp," the CPU usage goes down about 10% to 15.8% minimum, but fluctuates up to 22.8%.

  4. After a few days of typical usage, which includes running FireFox, Excel 2007, Word, Adobe Acrobat, and the occasional Adobe Creative Suite application, the whole virtual machine is taking up the stated 90% or more CPU time at idle (although remember, the maximum would be 200% for the two virtual processors, so I often see well over 100% during peak usage). Sometimes idle times are over 100% when there are a lot of Flash animations in Firefox running.

Here are some things I found out about how to kill off some things that are eaqting up CPU time. I literally tried EVERYTHING! I tried stopping every single thing in the "Services" listing in addition to killing off things listed under the Task Manager. Here are the only things that showed significant improvement:

  • AIM6: 10%

  • ituneshelper: 10% (but no effect immediately after login)

  • DetectorApp: 20% (but 10% after login)

  • Logging off: 5% or more

  • Rebooting: 10% or more

  • None of the services I stopped had any major influence

Of course exiting Firefox will lower CPU usage, since all of the memory, Flash animations, and Java applications should go with it. But running applications are known to do this, and I was trying to list things which had to be killed.

As for the worst culprit, DetectorApp, I guess it comes from Roxio's MyDVD LE. Since I don't think I need this anymore (thanks to both Toast Titanium and the lastest version of iMovie 08 supporting my DVD camera) I need to remove this piece of junk. I normally use a program called "startup control panel" by Mike Lin to do sneaky things like that, although Power Toys will maybe do it, too. I may just completely remove MyDVD LE.

So as it sits now, I have run some programs and closed them, and vmware-vmx is idling at 42% right now. I have not killed anything but nothing is running. I am NOT happy with this, but I have been dealing with it since I bought Fusion.

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Immortal
Immortal

  • 2 virtual processors allocated to VM

This is probably your culprit - using multiple virtual processors is known to increase idle CPU usage. Virtual SMP also not as effective on a system with only two physical cores, since if both the host and the guest decide they want to use more than one core... well, one of them isn't going to win.

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Contributor
Contributor

  • 2 virtual processors allocated to VM

This is probably your culprit - using multiple virtual processors is known to increase idle CPU usage. Virtual SMP also not as effective on a system with only two physical cores, since if both the host and the guest decide they want to use more than one core... well, one of them isn't going to win.

That is right. If I had controlof this thread, etung would get all the credit. Ihave been running like this for months, and I have had to maybe reboot the Windows VM once a month since then. VM Ware Fusion is very stable and a lot faster now using a single virtual processor. It's not perfect after a long session of Windows, but it is 999% better than before.

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