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Matching/compatible graphics card for Workstation Pro searched! - Passende/kompatible Grafikkarte für Workstation Pro gesucht!

Hello VMware Community,

which graphics card category would be recommended for enabling 3D acceleration or GPU passthrough (so that virtual systems (e.g. Windows 10) generally run more smoothly, the memory is used directly by the graphics card and more graphics power is available to the VMs)

Would a desktop graphics card (e.g. RX 5500 XT, GTX 1660 Super) be sufficient, or do you need the professional/workstation version (e.g. Radeon Pro WX 3200)?

The Radeon Pro series is also designed for virtualization.

In this context, however, I cannot read anything about VMware Workstation Pro (MxGPU for e.g. cloud environments).

Would Workstation Pro benefit from a Radeon Pro Series?

[Request is for Linux/Windows as host system, where Linux is used concretely (Windows just in case, should be included if there might be differences)].

Thanks a lot!

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Hallo VMware-Gemeinschaft,

welche Grafikkartenkategorie wäre für die Aktivierung der 3D-Beschleunigung bzw. von GPU-Passthrough zu empfehlen (sodass die virtuellen Systeme (z. B. Windows 10) generell noch etwas flüssiger laufen, der Speicher direkt von der Grafikkarte genutzt wird und mehr Grafikpower den VM's zur Verfügung stehen)?

Würden hier auch eine Desktop Grafikkarte (wie z. B. RX 5500 XT, GTX 1660 Super) ausreichen, oder benötigt man hier die Professionell/Workstation Version (wie z. B. Radeon Pro WX 3200)?

Die Radeon Pro Serie ist unter anderem auch für Virtualisierung konzipiert.

In diesem Zusammenhang, kann ich jedoch nichts von VMware Workstation Pro lesen (MxGPU für z. B. Cloud-Umgebungen).

Würde die Workstation Pro von einer Radeon Pro Serie profitieren?

[Anfrage gilt für Linux/Windows als Hostsystem, wobei Linux konkret genutzt wird (Windows für den Fall der Fälle, sollte mit einbezogen werden, falls es hier ggf. Unterschiede gäbe).]

Vielen Dank!!

24 Replies
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User Moderator
User Moderator

Hi,

Have a look at the system requirements:

Host System Requirements for Workstation Pro

and in particular:

Display Requirements for Host Systems

Note that the graphics adapter is virtualized and that buying a much more fancier graphics adapter in the host OS might not make much of a difference for the guest OS as the guest OS never gets to see all those exta features.

--

Wil

| Author of Vimalin. The virtual machine Backup app for VMware Fusion, VMware Workstation and Player |
| More info at vimalin.com | Twitter @wilva
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Immortal
Immortal

Wie kommst du darauf das Gpu-passthrough moegich waere ?

Do you need support with a recovery problem ? - call me via skype "sanbarrow"
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Vielen Dank für die Antworten!

Ich dachte dies in mehreren Foren gelesen zu haben, dass dies nur mit VMware möglich sei (GPU-Passthrough).

Und auf der Produktseite steht: "Leistungsstarke 3D-Grafik" "VMware Workstation Pro unterstützt DirectX 10.1 sowie OpenGL 3.3 und gewährleistet somit eine flüssige und schnelle Darstellung von 3D-Anwendungen. Sie können daher anspruchsvollste 3D-Anwendungen wie AutoCAD oder SOLIDWORKS mit nahezu nativer Performance in einer Windows-VM ausführen."

Dies hatte meine Annahme im Hintergrund gestärkt.

Aber Deiner Antwort entnehme ich, dass die Workstation Pro dies doch nicht kann? Also definitiv keine GPU-Passthrough Unterstützung?

Dann anderes gefragt.

Wie erziele ich dies, dass die virtuellen VMware Grafikkarten, der VM's, die Leistung einer verbauten Grafikkarte größtenteils nutzen?

Laut den Systemanforderungen (bezüglich der Grafikkarte) ist es quasi egal welche Grafikkarte man verbaut.

Also kann VMware Workstation Pro mit jeglicher Grafikkarte optimal zusammenarbeiten (egal ob mit AMD oder nVIDIA, egal ob Desktop oder Workstation VGA) und die Leistung der Grafikkarte nahezu komplett auf die VM's entsprechend verteilen (hier bedarf es also keine besonderen Vorgaben der Grafikkarte (das VMware ordnungsgemäß nahezu die komplette Leistung "weitergibt" / auf die VM's und deren virtuellen VGA verteilt); außer dass sie aktueller sein sollte als eine 8800GT / Radeon HD 2600, was ja bei Neukauf immer zutrifft)?

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Many thanks for the answers!

I thought to have read in several forums that this is only possible with VMware (GPU passthrough).

And on the product page it says: "Powerful 3D Graphics" "VMware Workstation Pro supports DirectX 10.1 as well as OpenGL 3.3 and thus ensures a smooth and fast display of 3D applications. You can therefore run the most demanding 3D applications such as AutoCAD or SOLIDWORKS with almost native performance in a Windows VM".

This had strengthened my assumption in the background.

But from your answer I gather that Workstation Pro can't do this after all? So definitely no GPU passthrough support?

Then ask another question.

How do I achieve this so that the virtual VMware graphics cards, the VM's, use most of the performance of an installed graphics card?

According to the system requirements (regarding the graphics card) it is almost irrelevant which graphics card you use.

So VMware Workstation Pro can work optimally with any graphics card (no matter if AMD or nVIDIA, no matter if desktop or Workstation VGA) and distribute the performance of the graphics card almost completely to the VM's accordingly (so there is no need for any special specifications of the graphics card (that VMware "passes on" / distributes almost the complete performance to the VM's and their virtual VGA); except that it should be more current than a 8800GT / Radeon HD 2600, which always applies to new purchases)?

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User Moderator
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Hi,

GPU Passthrough is possible with VMware vSphere, not with VMware Workstation.

Note that the GPU Passthrough capability on vSphere is aimed at the professional graphics cards, not the end user ones.

For NVIDIA end user cards you have to apply some hacks (google it), not sure if that's needed for AMD.

The marketing page for VMware Workstation might state how great it is, and I'd say it isn't bad, but it might come up short for professional use when you want to run things like Solidworks or AutoCAD. It's a virtualized graphics adapter and as such it is much less powerful, because there's a lot that a VM cannot directly access and use.

I would just "try and see" in that case and not immediately take marketing's word for that.

There's a 30 day trial version, so try before you buy.

--

Wil

| Author of Vimalin. The virtual machine Backup app for VMware Fusion, VMware Workstation and Player |
| More info at vimalin.com | Twitter @wilva
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Many thanks for the answer.

So VMware does have a bit of a "mouth too full" attitude. Smiley Wink Okay.

Currently I'm using Workstation Pro with a Ryzen 5 with integrated graphics unit.

However, I would like to try Workstation Pro again with a new computer (Ryzen 9 + separate graphics card).

Hence my question about choosing a suitable graphics card.

So wouldn't an AMD Radeon Pro, when using VMware Workstation Pro, be more advantageous than an end-user graphics card?

Will Workstation Pro work better with an AMD or nVIDIA end user graphics card, or will it work equally well with both chips and/or Linux drivers?

Are there any technical features that a graphics card should have in order for Workstation Pro to provide the virtual graphics card with optimal performance?

Quote: "It's a virtualized graphics adapter and as such it is much less powerful, because there's a lot that a VM cannot directly access and use.

To put it bluntly: Does it make any difference at all if a separate graphics card is used or if only the processor powers the virtual graphics card?

What is the minimum graphics card that should be installed so that it provides more power than the processor has previously provided?

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So no one knows much more about graphics card selection in terms of best possible usability/compatibility/interplay? :smileyconfused:

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User Moderator
User Moderator

Hi,

I didn't answer because it would mostly be a repeat of the earlier answer where I point to the system requirements for Workstation Pro.

Yes, some small improvements might be expected if you use a better graphics card, but the difference will not be much.

VMware Workstation does wrap and translate functionality for DirectX / OpenGL calls, but a lot is also dependent on the specific application of the software you are going to use.

One thing that normally is important in the physical world (not VM's) with GPU's is their available VRAM, because it is very fast RAM.

A VM however cannot access that VRAM and instead works with normal RAM. A lot of the heavy lifting is done by the CPU not the GPU...

If you're going to spend money on a rig for VMware Workstation then spend it on RAM, CPU and SSD/NVMe in about that order.

Not on a more fancy/expensive graphics adapter, you won't see the return of investment for that.

If you want to use it at host level then it might still be worthwhile though.

--

Wil

| Author of Vimalin. The virtual machine Backup app for VMware Fusion, VMware Workstation and Player |
| More info at vimalin.com | Twitter @wilva
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Many thanks for the answer!

Previously I assumed that enabling 3D Graphics and selecting graphics memory would represent the amount of memory reserved/allocated to the guest system from the graphics card memory.

However, as you describe it, it wouldn't make much sense to use a separate graphics card (and an expensive one at that).

I don't want to doubt your competence(!), but I can't assume that yet Smiley Wink

Since I had done a test about 1.5 years ago, which resulted in the following.

Host system Windows 8.1 with the test version of VMware Workstation Pro 14 or already version 15.

With GPU-Z I had read out the current memory consumption of the graphics card.

With this I could see directly that after I started a VM and ran a Full-HD video on YouTube for testing, the memory consumption of the graphics card increased and was used.

In direct comparison, the VM without 3D Graphics + Full-HD Video showed that the memory consumption of the graphics card did not increase, but the used RAM memory did.

So I probably had the alleged fact that Workstation Pro supports GPU passthrough.

However, this simple test contradicts your statement that the graphics card memory was not being used. Or is this phenomenon somehow explainable and consistent with your statement?

What is "really" true?

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There is **no GPU passthrough**, period.

While of course VMware has to pass some of the functionality off to the GPU, it's all wrapped and a lot of the functionality is done on the CPU.

The 3D functionality allows more of the work to be done by the GPU, but certainly not all of it,

Assigning more GPU RAM on the VM will take that RAM from the normal RAM at the host, not from the GPU itself.

There certainly is a difference between using a GPU that can barely keep up (such as an integrated GPU in a laptop) or a discrete AMD/NVIDIA GPU.

I would spent some money there, to be a bit above the required minimums, but not a lot. Just a bit of future proofing in case VMware updates their virtual adapters.

--

Wil

| Author of Vimalin. The virtual machine Backup app for VMware Fusion, VMware Workstation and Player |
| More info at vimalin.com | Twitter @wilva
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User Moderator
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Do a search in these forums, this gets asked alot. I don't know the exact the exact workings of the 3d feature in workstation, but I always assumed it worked something like wine conceptually. The virtual graphics adapter passes direct 3d calls back to the graphics card for processing. This requires the calls to come from the virtualized graphics card to the 3d graphics card and back again. So anything that has to do with the amount of memory or cores in the graphics card really doesn't matter. It does help in things that are very difficult to be done in software, so its more improtant to have a graphics card that supports at least the levels workstation hold, that a high performance card, because all of that extra power is getting wasted if its just for vmware workstation. What I and I assume wila​ is hoping for is a real virtualized graphic card, the way vmware horizon virtual desktops do. That lets virtual machines attach to the card and split it, nvidia or amd needs to develop a feature that allows that in consumer equipment and also allow the host access to the card, but I haven't heard of any graphics card that can do that.

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Thanks for the answers!

Sorry, but what do you mean by graphics card support at least the Workstation Hold levels? This seems to be more in the direction of a professional graphics card, such as the AMD Radeon Pro WX 3200...(?)

And how do you explain the described behavior that when 3D Graphics is activated, e.g. for a video, the graphics card memory is used? According to your statement (which I don't want to doubt, just want to understand), this would be done by the CPU and the main memory. A video is also "nothing special" for me, which could then be processed by the CPU...

For me it would be more interesting to do image editing...

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Take a step back and think about what workstation is doing, ifs creating a fake computer. This is done all in the cpu and memory of the system. Hardware cards can be passed through, but not shared, so its normally either in use by the host or by the vm. With a graphics card you can't pass it through to the vm, because your using in the host, its how you see things on the screen. For true 3d graphics acceleration in workstation you need a graphics card that supports being split up somehow. Thats what I referring to, the vm or the host can only control a piece of hardware when its in use, they cannot be shared. Workstation allows some 3d acceleration by translating the 3d calls from the virtual graphics card(thats being simulated in the cpu) and sending calls to the graphics card to get processed. The vm isn't using your graphics card, its using the vmware 3d sga card, and that sga card is the same no matter what.

I like your need to know more, but honestly if wila​ hasn't seen or heard about a graphics card making that much of a difference, I doubt there is any out there. I really don't know the exact underworkings of how workstation handles the graphics accelleration, only my interptatation of what I've seen so far. There hasn't been an article or document released that I've seen that explains it, and I've looked as I've had the same question in the past.

Just a heads up on who to trust more than who in these forums, look at the icons by there name, if it looks like they have a brain thats the highest level, which is over 20,000 points, mine is only between 2000 and 5000. You get about 10 points per answer so he has had his answered marked as correct probably around 2000 times. There are other ways, but they are a point here or there.

Community Rewards Program FAQ

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Hi,

I don't really want to do the "look at my points" dance as I think it is all a bit relative.

Pretty sure I haven't answered this question 2000 times, but yes it has come up more than once.

Let me point to one more article that might help.

Frequently Asked Questions about VMware Fusion  --> Yes it is about VMware Fusion, but that doesn't matter for this question, the answer is the same on Workstation.

Scroll down all the way to the "Virtual Hardware " paragraph and read that.

That article was written by a former VMware employee. Beware though that the article is a few years old (like 12 years, a lot of it is still valid today), the most relevant bits are under the VMware Fusion release timeline part

There are other posts that explain the same thing (I searched for a particular one, but couldn't find it)

--

Wil

| Author of Vimalin. The virtual machine Backup app for VMware Fusion, VMware Workstation and Player |
| More info at vimalin.com | Twitter @wilva
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@sjesse

So in your opinion, I was right about the Radeon WX 3200. Because it was developed for virtualization and offers this in a way that you also describe.

However, an end-user graphics card would have faster and larger memory, and more performance for less money. Which is what makes them so interesting. However, it doesn't handle parallel work as well, consumes more power and generates more heat, so it's not really a workstation.

Again, as wila described, all of this is not used by VMware Workstation Pro. Which brings us back to the end point: It doesn't matter what video card is used.

Which is not an optimal and satisfying answer for me, but I have to accept it.

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I don't Radeon WX 3200 is being developed for virtualization, it needs to support mxgpu which I don't see listed. But as you referenced it doesn't matter for workstation, the amd feature requires sr-iov which is a server only feature. It does like what I mentioned before, it shares the card between multiple vms, but the esxi host itself doesn't use it. Depending on your need for gpu in workstation any card will work, as games are really hit or miss. If your doing other things your better off setting up an esxi host and either messing with pci passthrough or getting a true server gpu which is expensive.

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Just wanted to provide a reference as reliability, as the levels are the only thing posters have to go by other then direct vmware box, which people don't notice for a bit if they are new. Getting guru takes quite a long time with the highest one point source being 10. I'm not promoting the need to get points or anything like that, but since the icons are there at least they should be recognized in some cases.

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wila

Sorry to bring up an old topic again.

However, I had not found any satisfying answers for me so far. :smileyblush:

Thanks for the link. In the meantime I have realized that Workstation Pro does not support GPU passthrough. Smiley Wink

Quote: "Because of this, we take the emulation approach. The guest sees a VMware video card, and we do the work of converting guest commands into something that's safe and usable for the host video card.

My only concern was to choose the "optimal" video card, so that VMware could get the most out of the host video card, or the interaction between VMware and the host video card.

But here, as it looks and has been described, there is no other advantage currently available with different graphics cards.

In the future, VMware should support the Radeon Pro graphics cards (which were developed for virtualization) and also use API's for DirectGMA.

Then there would be differences in the choice of graphics card and the graphics card could be used better by the respective VM's. Smiley Happy

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Quote: "I don't Radeon WX 3200 is being developed for virtualization, it needs to support mxgpu which I don't see listed."

In contact with AMD I was told that the workstation graphics card was designed for virtualization.

In addition, AMD of MxGPU generally refers to the Radeon Pro: https://www.amd.com/en/graphics/workstation-virtual-graphics

As well as in the Footnotes, item 2, Radeon Pro WX Series:

https://www.amd.com/en/graphics/workstation-virtualization-solutions-csp

Therefore I apparently assumed that the WX 3200 supports this Smiley Wink

But in another mail from AMD I read again that the graphics card is not designed for multi-VM use.

I had considered that it might be better to use a WX 3200 in case VMware changes the functionality of the Workstation Pro.

But then this makes no sense from the current point of view.

Then the only arguments in favor of the Radeon Pro (WX 2100) graphics card would be better driver support (for Linux), longer warranty and lower power consumption.

Otherwise, an RX 550 would be cheaper...

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At this point I think you've got the idea, we are waiting/hoping, for improved graphics support in consumer level 2 hypervisors. There currently is no one that does, I think once the tech matures a bit more, it will come.

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