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Is it possible to bring up a virtual machine which simulates IBM Power guest architecture (Big Endian) on a machine running x86 host architecture (Little Endian)? Obviously the VM would have to simulate the swapped byte order.

Is anyone familiar with a way to do this?

My instinct says no for several reasons, and even if it is, it may not be a good idea, but I figured I would ask anyway.

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I don't know a single case of (current) software that supports a PowerPC virtual machine. – Ramhound Dec 13 '12 at 15:16
Here is a breakdown of Guest CPU - Host CPU options link. I am not familiar with many of these products. I know at one point there were differences between IBM's older POWER architecture and their PowerPC architecture, but I think these days they are pretty compatible. – Zero Dec 13 '12 at 15:18

Theoretically, sure - but it would be so complex that it wouldn't really be a VM anymore, it would be a simulator with extremely poor performance. Like @Ramhound, I don't know of any packages that do this.

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I was able to find several options, which fit the criteria of the question. Although many of them appear to have been bought by either Apple, Intel, or IBM, and the software is no longer available. I guess I answered my own question, just need to do a bit of research to see if any of them are still viable. – Zero Dec 13 '12 at 15:31
What is the distinction between a platform simulator, and a virtual machine? It was my understanding that platform simulation (or emulation) was a subset of what a VM provides. Common VMs often have the same Host and Guest architectures, but thats not a hard requirement. – Zero Dec 13 '12 at 15:49
I know any options I find will likely be slow. Even VMs running on the same architecture as the host machine suffer a substantial slowdown. – Zero Dec 13 '12 at 16:07
up vote 1 down vote accepted

I was able to find a breakdown of host cpu to guest cpu options here, which I will spend some time looking into. As @John pointed out, the level at which platform virtual machines emulate underlying hardware is based on the difference between the Host Architecture, and the Guest Architecture, which is the real crux of the question: Are there VM products which offer a POWER guest architecture, that can run on an x86 host architecture?

For now, I will look into a few products I recently found. Unless anyone has other solutions.

  • QEMU - Open Source
  • PearPC - Open Source
  • GXemul - Open Source
  • Simics - Intel

As a side note, while POWER and PowerPC technically differ, applications written for current POWER architecture are often compatible with PowerPC, and vice versa.

Any feedback on these options would be great as well, if anyone is familiar with them.

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