Hi VMWare experts,
I'm interested in VMWare Player/Workstation primarily to provide a more secure & stable Windows environment in which to run my CAD software.
Unfortunately I'm having some performance issues. I'd like to get some feedback on whether this is expected behavior or I'm doing something wrong.
I installed and Player on my Windows 7/x64 Host machine that has 8GB RAM & E8400 CPU. Please note that UAC was 'ON' beacuse atempting to turn UAC off resulted in a bluescreen of the machine. So instead I ran the VMWare host (Workstation / Player) 'as Administrator', which seemed to work and avoided the 'cannot contact the vmware authorization service' issue.
I installed Vista/x64 into a Guest configured with 2 processors & 6GB Ram (MP HAL). I upated the OS with the latest service packs & patches, then Inventor 2011 with a 30-day evaluation license. I configured Inventor to use 'compatible graphics' since it appeared that with other settings Inventor was switching to software graphics mode.
Then I loaded some fairly large models to test performance. Performance was just barely acceptable, but I didn't expect miracles on this somewhat dated hardware platform.
Seeking performance improvements, I downloaded and installed an evaluation copy of Workstation (uninstalling Player first). Subjective testing resulted in possibly subtle improvements, but then I left for vacation and the Workstation evaluation license expired before I could pin down the desiriabliity of Workstation vs. Player and whether the whole scheme is workable and an improvement over a 'raw-iron' CAD install environment.
Since the Workstation evaluation license expired, I uninstalled the product and resintalled the latest version of Player. Now, performance (subjectively speaking at least) seems even poorer. Maybe it's because I'm trying to actually use the product to do some real heavy lifting, but I'm noticing a few things that seem to not be correct.
To monitor system utilization, I have SysInternals PerfMon installed on both Host and Guest environments. I see expected levels of CPU utilization within the Guest environment, where executing a CPU-intensive command in the CAD environment results in aprox. 50-80% CPU utilization. However, when I look at the host's CPU utilization, it is very low during what I expect be a high-utilization spike similar to what I see in the Guest. Instead Inever see vmware-vmx.exe exceed 25% CPU utilization and is usually around 5-15%.
This may explain the low performance I'm seeing within the VM.
I guess this all boils down to the following questions:
Am what I am seeing typical of a correctly running CAD-in-VM environment? If so are there ways to improve performance here?
If there are configuration problems limiting performance, what are they?
The reason I'm doing all this testing is that I'm planning on investing in new computer, most likely an i7-875K / 16GB / GTX460 / SSD or better (plus 2x Windows7, VMWorkstation, updated CAD license, etc) in an attempt to get acceptable performance in a virtual environment. But I'd like to have a reasonable understanding & performance expectation to help form my purchasing decisions.
Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.
Thanks in advance!
your details could have been taken from the book "how to create the slowest VM possible"
1. Vista 64 is probably the worst NT you can install in a VM - use XP or Windows 7 instead if possible.
2. you assigned 2 virtual CPUs to your guest - this only makes sense if your host has at least 4 cores - better use single virtual CPUs
3. you assigned 6 Gb of virtual RAM ... that really is too much - my own rule of thumb: don't assign more then 1536 MB of virtual RAM unless it is really really necessary
by the way: Workstation and VMplayer are the same product - only difference: Workstation has more addons. So uninstalling Workstation after the trial expired was not necessary.
Only the Workstation GUI itself expires - the vmplayer which cxomes with every WS-installation does NOT expire.
Anyway - posty a vmware.log from that slow VM - if i see that I can give better performance tweaks
Thanks for responding, continuum.
Well, no, I didn't intend to create a slow VM. Just the opposite. However, there were reasons for the configuraiton decisions.
Re: 1: Vista/x64 was the only OS license I had avaliable. The CAD app is 64-bit, too. Anyway, Vista's performance issues should be somewhat moot - I'm ignoring OS (boot, load, etc) performance here and looking just at a loaded application's compute performance, so OS performance issues should be minimal... Right?
Re: 2: I understand what you're saying, but isn't the desktop scenario I'm testing (properly multi-threaded app running in a maximized VM with virtually no load on the host system) reasonable? The CAD app can really utilize the second processor, at least when running directly on raw-iron. Anyway, I reconfigured the guest to use a single processor (MP HAL still installed though) and the performance limitation was still there, if not worse, now being limited to one core.
Re: 3: I would agree with you except that the model I'm working on is really big, well over 1GB on disk. The 16-bit version of the CAD app refuses to load it, and from what I can tell the app uses about 5GB RAM to perform the operations I'm testing. Reducing the configured ram will probably induce excessive swapping...
Thanks for the 411 on the differences between Workstation & Player - from what I gather from your post there will be zero performance difference, right?
I guess the conclusion here is 16GB & 4-core is going to be a requirement for going forward. Assuming I can get an acceptable performance expectation here.
Do you have any suggestions that might help me determine whether my CAD environment will run acceptably in a VM on a beefier system?
411 ? - nice shortcut - sounds good but what does it stand for ?
I would say buying a new machine is plan C.
plan B is buying some hardware
plan A is tweaking what you got
Workstation can be tweaked for best performance of a single VM or for low impact on the host.
Default is somewhere in the middle with first priority being the low impact.
As you plan to assign a lot of RAM to a single VM I think the difference between default settings and tweaked for performance can be significant ... lets see if that is enough ...
I am too lazy to look up your CPU model - is that dual-core or quad-core ?
How many physical disks has your host ?
How many virtual disks has your CAD-VM ?
Please attach the vmware.log from that VM - it will annswer the other 20 questions I still have
Let's no underestimate the drives here... RAID 10 (4 SATA drives) is going to give you really good performance.. for your setup anyway.
I wouldn't consider anything LESS than RAID 5 3 SATA drives.
The disk drives (at least from my experience, and I do have data to back it up) is the MOST important for ANY virtual platform. You can't overlook the importance of faster drives, and RAID.
I guess the conclusion here is 16GB & 4-core is going to be a requirement for going forward.
Even more important than that.. you can skimp on memory, maybe reduce CPU performance a tad.. but drives are ultimately where your VM's will get their performance.
don't know where you come from - here 411 on the phone is the Kindergarten 😉
@ RParker: Continuum (Ulli) is from Germany, so 411 is different.
@ Continuum: 411 in the USA is the phone number for telephone number information (i.e.: please give me the phone number for John Doe.) So "give me the 411 at the office" is American slang that means "what's the latest gossip / news / info about what's happening at the office."
So Dave's "Thanks for the 411 about Workstation..." means he was thanking you for providing the detailed info about Workstation.
Hi asatoran - thanks for explanation - I already guessed that - was just curious about that slang term.
And I am sure Richard knows where I come from - he likes to use that as an argument occasionally
Sorry about not responding earlier... That was long week that I'm glad is over.
Thanks for all the responses. Yeah, the 411 thing was covered well - here in the US you dial 411 to reach Infomation.
Taking a step back and thinking out what I'm asking, I guess I'm looking for some sort of assurance that a beefy machine, likely Intel875K + 16GB RAM + SSD + GTX460, will run a resource-intensive CAD app editing a medium-large model will run acceptably fast in a VM.
Currently this scenario runs somewhat (barely?) acceptably on an E8400 +8GB +2x Raid 0 + GTX260 directly on the host OS. But running in a VM, the scenario runs unacceptably slowly at times.
What's the general opinion on running intensive engineering apps in a VM? Can I get acceptable performance where I'm not wasting expensive engineering time waiting for the app to grind? What general level of performance loss can be reasonably expected? 10%? 15%? 20%? Is VMWare well suited to running big direct3d apps crunching big data in a vm configured at 8GB ram with good performance?
Or am I barking up the wrong tree and should just run the big engineering apps on bare iron?
Thanks again for the 411.
Currently this scenario runs somewhat (barely?) acceptably on an E8400 +8GB +2x Raid 0 + GTX260 directly on the host OS.
Wow - I guess for such requirements as you have running this in a VM will not make you happy.
I am sure you are better off running this on real metal.