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i will keep this as simple as possible:

My gfx card if radeon x1800gto. It's a decent card with decent gaming performance in windows.

Right now, ubuntu does not get any newer proprietary drivers from amd and thus the performance of gfx of this card is lower.

If I run a windows virtual machine (for gaming exclusively) inside ubuntu, will I have full performance of my gfx card or will it be limited in performance by the drivers in ubuntu?

For somebody who understand virtual machines and how they communicate with hardware, this should be a str8forward and easy to answer question.


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migrated from Dec 21 '12 at 16:26

This question came from our site for professional and enthusiast programmers.

  • The Radeon X1800GTO is not a decent card with decent gaming performance. This card was released on March 9, 2006 -- over six years ago. Six years in terms of the evolution of graphics cards is analogous to 50 years in terms of the evolution of the automobile.

  • AMD stopped releasing feature and bugfix updates for all Radeon graphics processors older than the "Evergreen" (R800) generation. Yours is an "R500", which is three generations older than the oldest generation that's still supported.

  • Virtualized 3d graphics impose a large performance overhead, because the hypervisor has to manage the 3d rendering inside the virtual machine and proxy it to the host's OpenGL implementation. No matter how old or new your card is, it is currently impractical to get good performance on recent 3d games in a virtual machine. It is even worse because your old card does not have many of the modern features which do improve performance somewhat.

  • Considering the age of your graphics card, it is very likely that your CPU is also quite old. If your CPU is older than the "Nehalem" generation (Core i3/i5/i7) which debuted in 2009, then you do not have the Extended Page Tables (EPT) feature on your processor. This feature, when available, greatly improves the performance of guest virtual machines across the board -- not only for graphics, but for general computation, memory access, etc. Without this extension, your guest may barely be usable. Also, if your CPU is even older, it may not have the VT-x extension either, which means it would be running completely in software; this is the worst possible case and guest performance will be unusable for even basic use cases.

  • On certain recent motherboards, with recent GPU/CPU combinations, it is possible to dedicate an entire GPU to a guest operating system, using an IOMMU on the motherboard, and a CPU extension called "VT-d". Virtualization for Direct I/O passthrough eliminates almost all the overhead involved in virtualized 3d graphics, but the downside is that you can't use the passed-through video card (or the display connected to it) in your host operating system at all. You must also have at least two monitors; one dedicated to the guest, and one dedicated to the host.

The short answer is that I think you will need to upgrade your computer to the latest-generation components (Ivy Bridge processor, Southern Islands or Kepler graphics card) if you want to run Windows in a guest on top of Linux and expect decent gaming performance. Furthermore, if you go the IOMMU path rather than virtualized graphics, you can expect outstanding (near-native) performance, with maybe 2-5% overhead, which is generally not enough to slow down your game.

Your proposal of what you want to do, as far as the software side is concerned, is perfectly valid. But not with your current hardware.

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