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BACKGROUND:

  • I am running Windows 7 Ultimate x64 on a fairly powerful multi-core CPU with plenty of ram.
  • This is not a question about resource usage.
  • I assume that all VMs have pluses and minuses, so this question is not about usability.
  • My goal is to be running a computational and disk intensive application in a VM.
  • There are way too many old benchmarks available on the internet.

QUESTION:
Where can I find a current comparison (after January 2011) of Virtual Machine performances?

EDIT:
Still cannot find a comparison, so I am downloading a performance test, will run on both VPC and VBOX. Will post the results

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4 Answers 4

I can't really find one either which is up to date, but in my experience:

  1. VMware Workstation

    • Excellent hardware usage and a faster speed increase than others
  2. Virtualbox

    • Getting better with each update
    • New version is very impressive
    • Great for a free Virtual Machine Manager
  3. (Mac) Parallels

    • Very good, said to be the best in performance
    • Not really worth it imo.

Just go with either VirtualBox or VMWare, I would go for VMWare though as a personal preference.

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I would go with VMWare as well the VirtualBox snapshot management is horrendous and so is moving / backing up VM's every single time I try to use it I lose some information because of this. –  Arctor Mar 25 '11 at 14:14
up vote 3 down vote accepted

Since there were no easily found benchmarks, I decided to test it myself using the Passmark benchmark
The BaseSystem is a GatewayFX with 2 Quad CPU Q9300 2.5Ghz, 8GB Memory;

Both Virtual machines were created with 2GB Memory and the 80GB virtual drives created on a SSD

Since Virtualbox allows multiple cores, I ran the benchmark twice, once restricted to a single core.

The actual numbers don't really mean anything, they are just used to compare one virtual system against the other

|             | BaseSystem | VirtualBox | VirtualBox | Virtual PC |
| Subsystem   | Q9300 8cpu |  Dual Core | Single Core| Virtual PC |
--------------+------------+------------+------------+-------------
| CPU         |     3329.6 |     1506.2 |      761.5 |      775.7 |
| 2D Graphics |      277.3 |      292.4 |      315.5 |      305.3 |
| Memory      |      827.6 |      503.7 |      496.9 |      470.4 |
| Disk        |     4498.7 |      701.4 |      674.2 |      784.4 |

CONCLUSIONS:
For a single core, it looks like the VPC is faster when it comes to disk I/O however the ability of the VBX to use multiple cores gives it the advantage in an compute intensive environment.

Note: there is an odd result, where the 2D Graphic tests are actually faster in the virtual environment.

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A quick google search turned up this: Wikipedia: Comparison of platform virtual machines

The most important benefit that I've found to VMware over VirtualBox, is the USB support. I've had a terribly bad time trying to get USB drives to mount in my FM's. That's comparing VMware player, which is free against Virtual Box.

But if you're intending to use it in a company environment, the open nature of Virtual Box may prove far more useful to you at much lower cost.

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Thanks Sunny, but I am really looking for a performance comparison –  Noah Mar 25 '11 at 15:28

From experience here, computationally intensive programs won't see much noticeable difference between VM platforms, if you're running them on a modern CPU with virtualization extensions turned on.

The disc intensive things are the big part. More or less, everything you're thinking about (VirtualBox, VMWare, VirtualPC, etc) will have slower disc performance than the host system, because it's a filesystem in a file, on a filesystem. If you run multiple VMs at once, it gets crappier, especially if they're IO-intensive.

I'll suggest two ways to get around that: 1) The way to get around this is to either use some sort of dedicated external storage device. In industry, it would be a iscsi SAN or huge NAS. For home usage, use a spare box (raid helps) and set it up as a NAS. Then mount it in the VMs, and do the disc-intensive work on the network drive. It is often faster using NFS or SMB for intensive IO than accessing a local-virtual-disk, even if the NAS is your old p4 with software raid.

2) If you only have one box, but have spare internal or external hard drives, use a different physical drive to hold each virtual drive (hackish, but it really does help when running multiple.

Not a direct answer to your question, but hope one of those helps.

(wrote this yesterday, forgot to hit submit)

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