1 2 Previous Next 18 Replies Latest reply on Jun 27, 2007 10:17 PM by kirstogov

    extreamely slow performance (due to heavey disk usage)

    anisotropic Lurker

      hi all,


      I have downloaded vmware 1.0.1, installed on a Opensuse 10.2 (host OS).  I have installed Windows XP (sp1) for about 10 times with various setting, and each time I end up with the same result:  extremely slow performance.  I think it is due to swapping as my HD light indicator is always flashing.  I seek your help.


      My hardware/OS:


      AMD 3800+ X2

      1GB of RAM,

      Seagate 250GB SATA HD with XFS file system.

      Opensuse 10.2 (kernel SMP)


      I am trying to install Windows XP with SP1.


      Problem:  not matter how many RAM I allocated to XP (256MB to 512MB), disabled paging trimming, with minimum peripheral (no sound, no USB), I always end up with the same thing:  extremely slow performance, starting from the installation of the windows XP.  The windows XP installation would take about 2 hours to install, and application of SP2 would take another 3-4 hours.  The only thing that doesn't change is the heavy-disk usage:  looks like it is swapping constantly.


      Things I have tried are:

      1) various amount of memory allocated to the guest OS (256MB to 512MB),

      2) 1 or 2 CPU to the OS

      3) 1 8GB file as OS disk, or 4x2GB file,

      4) with/without sound/USB activated for the guest OS.

      5) enabled/disable page trimming


      After the initial XP is installed, it would like > 5 minutes to login.  As I said, the application of SP2 (from the 250MB installation file) took about 4 hours simply because it is swapping all the time.  Anything I do in the guest XP is sluggish, it always triggers heavy disk-usage.


      The strange thing is, during the heave disk-usage, both the system monitor in OpenSuse and TaskManager in XP says that \*NO* swap memory is used. 


      So, after 10 installations with various settings, I'm at lost.  I seek your help in finding out what might be causing the EXTREMELY slow performance of vmware-server.  I have used vmware about 5 years ago, and even with the aged hardware it performed well enough to use on a single-CPU machine.


      any help is very much appreciated,

        • 1. Re: extreamely slow performance (due to heavey disk usage)
          anisotropic Lurker

          I should add that vmtool is installed (after XP is installed as the guest OS), but the heavy disk usage occurs DURING the XP installation.

          • 2. Re: extreamely slow performance (due to heavey disk usage)
            boydd Champion

            Have you tried disabling the vRAM caching (Swapping) of the vm's?  Via VS Console under host properties - make sure the vm's only use the host memory and disable swapping of mem.



            • 3. Re: extreamely slow performance (due to heavey disk usage)
              KevinG Guru

              What is reported in the vmware.log file from the virtual machine?

              • 4. Re: extreamely slow performance (due to heavey disk usage)
                anisotropic Lurker

                I just tried disabling swapping on the guest OS.  The boot-up time is improved (about 2.5 minutes).  However, the guest OS (xp) is still not usable.  Things like clicking on "My Computer" would still cause heavy disk-usage.


                It is as if no physical RAM is available to the guest OS, and as such it is using the disk as the RAM.

                • 5. Re: extreamely slow performance (due to heavey disk usage)
                  anisotropic Lurker

                  hi there,


                  I have the log available but it is pretty long and I don't want to post it here.   Is there anything in particular I should be looking for?


                  I do notice there are a lot of entries relating to the HD usage:


                  Jan 10 21:34:18: vmx| DISK: DISK/CDROM timeout of 2.493 seconds on ide1:0 (ok)

                  Jan 10 21:40:05: vmx| DISK: DISK/CDROM timeout of 1.692 seconds on ide0:0 (ok)

                  Jan 10 21:44:08: vmx| DISK: DISK/CDROM timeout of 4.024 seconds on ide0:0 (ok)

                  Jan 10 21:45:02: vmx| DISK: DISK/CDROM timeout of 1.284 seconds on ide0:0 (ok)

                  Jan 10 21:46:26: vmx| DISK: DISK/CDROM timeout of 1.240 seconds on ide0:0 (ok)


                  and it goes on.  Would this be the cause of the heavy disk usage?

                  • 6. Re: extreamely slow performance (due to heavey disk usage)
                    IdeCable Novice

                    For virtual machines with large ammount of memory, disabling the memory trimming fixed some of the slow disk access issues.


                    One other good thing that fixed my slow disk access issues was to disable the write cache on each virtual hard drives I had.


                    Hope this helps.

                    • 7. Re: extreamely slow performance (due to heavey disk usage)
                      nick.couchman Champion

                      mainMem.useNamedFile = FALSE


                      worked well for me when I was running VMs with 3GB of memory on VMware Server.

                      • 8. Re: extreamely slow performance (due to heavey disk usage)
                        VirtualEntity Hot Shot

                        I had very similar problems with Open SuSE 10.0 (all patches applied) running on a 2 GHz Centrino (single-core)-based laptop with 1 GB RAM.  The VM was Windows 2003 Server with 512 MB.  Performance was so sluggish as to make the VM completely unusableit was odd, thoughcertain things, like tracking the movement of the mouse was pretty quick and responsive, but other things like clicking a menu choice or clicking an item to start a program or performing an action in a program on the Windows VM took forever.  Even so simple an act as starting up or shutting down the VM took tens of minutes.


                        I resolved the problem by dumping SuSE in favor of CentOS 5 (Also runs well under CentOS 4,). 


                        I expect that the problem may have to do with the way the kernel was compiled for SuSE.  I don't know a whole lot about it, but I understand that some of the newer kernels are configured to interrupt 1000 times per second to update internal chronometers (system clock, etc.) while older ones interrupt only 100 times per second.  I have also seen kernel options (but, alas, do not remember what they are) that allow for different levels of granularity in switching between tasks.  Again, the older method is highly preemptive and focuses more or less on server performance, while the newer methods seemed to be focused on making the way the multitasking controller code switches task more finely grained and more biased toward giving the user's desktop a "more responsive/faster" feel.


                        Unfortunately, these new optimizations for 1000 times/second timer interrupts (or whatever) and/or the new multitasking performance "tweaks" than focus on enhancing the desktop experience are anathema for VMware Server.


                        Symptoms that I have noted include, but are not limited to:

                        Very slow VMware VM performance (as detailed above) accompanied by abnormally LOW cpu utilization on the host.

                        Possible very high disk activity (perhaps high "load" values as reported by TOP or similar utilities)

                        Host operating system will seem highly responsive and quick--just the VM(s) running under it seem to run in "slow motion".


                        The easiest cure was to dump the desktop distribution for a "server-oriented one", such as SuSE Linux Enterprise Server or RedHat/CentOS Enterprise Linux, which will have a kernel optimized for performance of server tasks (or, especially virtual machines).


                        An alternative is to recompile your kernel with the server-type optimizations turned on and the newer desktop performance-oriented ones turned off.  You may also wish to attend to changing the timer interrupt value mentioned above from 1000 to 100.


                        You will have to research the compile options to find out how and where to set these parameters in your kernel Makefile as, unfortunately, I do not recall them.


                        A third option is to try a kernel of the 2.6.21 or later series.  I have heard of various problems with kernels in the 2.6.15 through 2.16.19/20 range.  (I have a Gentoo-based laptop with Kernel (or something like that) and this machine runs VMware Server exceptionally well.  However, there may be some issues with getting VMware to work with such a new kernel, e.g. you may need to apply something called the "any-to-any" patch to VMware Server to get it to compile and run properly.


                        Like I said:  Dumping SuSE for some variant of RedHat or CentOS Enterprise Linux is probably your easiest and most reliable solution.

                        • 9. Re: extreamely slow performance (due to heavey disk usage)
                          VMN Lurker

                          Hi all,

                          I too notice bad performance.

                          2 XP Prof Workstations with 400 MB RAM each need some minutes for logon. They are running on a HP Server with 4GB RAM, Server 2003

                          After a reboot of the VMs everything is well for a short time.


                          Simple analysis:

                          after reboot each VMWare process gains the full 400 MB.

                          After some time this is much less - even after setting "Disable memory page trimming".

                          VMWare Server Host Setting is "Fit all machine memory into reserved RAM" - reserved RAM ist 1545 MB


                          VERY noticeable: I checked RAM consumption: it was 300 and 200 MB for the 2 VMs.

                          I then contacted one VM with mstsc.exe. Login again was very slow. I checked memory consumption in Task Manager: it is now actually

                          110 MB and 17MB (!!!!!)

                          Of course performance is very bad.

                          How can I prevent that? I cannot boot the VMs all the time to get some performance...


                          Message was edited by:


                          • 10. Re: extreamely slow performance (due to heavey disk usage)
                            saxa Master

                            Because you're on Windows you should rather open the new thread.


                            What storage system is used on the host? What other programs are installed?

                            • 11. Re: extreamely slow performance (due to heavey disk usage)
                              VMN Lurker

                              Storgage is

                              2 Disks mirrored for OS (Server 2003 SP1)

                              3 Disks Raid 5 for Data storage (450 GB) - here are the 2 VMs


                              CPU: 2 x XEON processor 3 GHZ

                              RAM: 4 GB


                              VMWare Server program version is 1.0.2 build 39867


                              Server ist file- and printserver and has "nothing to do". cpu usage is 2 to 10 %.


                              I just rebootet the XP Prof VM - and I have normal performance.

                              Task manager shows for this process memory usage of 379MB.


                              This works fine until the memory for this process is "stolen"


                              One question: after setting the advanced VM setting "Disable page trimming": should I restart the server?

                              • 12. Re: extreamely slow performance (due to heavey disk usage)
                                nick.couchman Champion

                                Ouch - RAID5 isn't the best if you want the best VM performance.  What type of RAID controller do you have?  It can work okay if you have a decent (read: expensive) RAID controller, but the cheaper RAID controllers just can't keep up with the striping and parity needed for RAID5 and maintain a good level of throughput.

                                • 13. Re: extreamely slow performance (due to heavey disk usage)
                                  VMN Lurker

                                  Its the standard Raid 5 controller of a HP ML 350 server.

                                  Its not the key.


                                  Notice: I have good performance with the 2 XP Prof VMs when task manager of the server shows the 400MB RAM for each VM process.

                                  This becomes less with the time - then the VM processes show only about 100 MB of RAM in task manager.


                                  Performance then is very poor!


                                  I reboot the VMs - task manager shows 400 MB RAM for each VM process. Now performance is good again.

                                  • 14. Re: extreamely slow performance (due to heavey disk usage)
                                    nick.couchman Champion

                                    Performance should increase as utilization of the VMs increases.  When you leave a VM idle, VMware gradually releases physical memory back to the O/S for other tasks.  If you start using the VM again, VMware should take that memory back and reallocate it to the VMware process, unless, of course, you have something else running on the host that won't allow that memory to be reallocated.

                                    1 2 Previous Next