I've got a fairly beefy gaming system that I also run occational virtual machines on. It runs windows 8 and the built in hyper V virtual machine software at the moment and has a core i7 3770 (which unlike the unlocked model, should support VT-D), an Asus P8Z77V and a gforce 660 video card(also asus).

I figure that if I could use VT-D I could add a cheap dedicated 3d card for a VM, in case I wanted somewhat more than the 'basics'. I know KVM and Xen support this to some level on linux, but can I do so on windows? I'm open to switching VM software if need be.


Short answer - No, not on Windows. None of the VM softwares that can run inside of windows support VT-d, and I'm not sure they can as long as they continue to run inside of Windows (rather than Windows and everything else running inside of them). However if your concern is simply to run Windows and Linux, both of which have access to a GPU, then the effect can be achieved using a hypervisor like XEN, KVM, or ESX that support VT-d. Sadly, while hyper-v is a hypervisor type VM software like Xen, KVM and ESX, it does not support VT-d like they do and won't give PCI devices to anything except the main installation of Windows.

Beyond that, there are other concerns that I'll list below that will affect your system unless something changes significantly in the near future. The summary is that not all motherboards support vt-d and cheap AMD GPUs are easier than cheap NVidia GPUs to send off to Virtual Machine land.

First, I highly recommend you tell us your motherboard model as VT-d also has to be supported in the chipset and then in the BIOS/UEFI and not all models do that, even if they technically have the correct chipset and CPU combination. Asus doesn't make a single board that works with VT-d, Asrock and Gigabyte have support in most of their Z77/H77/Q77 boards, especially Asrock. I haven't looked into MSI, Intel, or any other companies for their levels of support.

Secondly, passing a VGA card to a VM is a bit more complex it seems than passing through a simpler sound card, USB host adapter, NIC, or Sata adapter (all of which I did, and they worked without any issues). I've only heard of this being done Hypervisors like Xen, KVM, and ESXi. Hyper-V does not support VT-d, and thus can't support VGA pass-through either. AMD Graphics cards have had a much higher success rate than NVidia. My experience is with Xen, from what I gathered at the time KVM support was less mature, and I didn't try ESX.

My Radeon HD 6950s, and a Radeon HD 3750 worked without any issues, but each VM could only take one at a time (so no hope for crossfire). My NVidia GTX 480s on the other hand refused to work at all, and others have also found it difficult to get NVidia cards other than high end Quadro's to function. The steps involved compiling from source specific revisions of XEN with modified code, pulling the GPU bios off the card and making XEN run it manually from the hard drive on the VM startup, and also finding out what ranges of memory the NVidia card was using and forcing the VM to use those ranges, since it failed to do this automatically. Hopefully NVidia cards have become easier to deal with, but I wouldn't cross my fingers on that.

  • yeah, this seems to be the case, and I've accepted your answer, both cause it answers the question I did ask, and the questions I should have asked. Interestingly, mine's an asus, so this may not have worked anyway. How would you check? – Journeyman Geek Oct 27 '13 at 3:24

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