In our testing of VirtualBox 4.0.4 with a Linux guest and host (and the host using NVIDIA's binary display driver), it's just not the most demanding OpenGL software (like SPECViewPerf or Unigine's tech demos) that cause the virtual machine to lock-up or become aborted, but even some older OpenGL games like World of Padman had issues too. In fact, only two of the tested Phoronix Test Suite test profiles had properly worked with a VirtualBox 4.0.4 Ubuntu 10.10 guest when 3D acceleration was enabled and the guest addition drivers installed: Nexuiz and OpenArena.
Testing was done on a System76 Serval Professional Sandy Bridge notebook with an Intel Core i7 2820QM CPU, 8GB of system memory, 80GB Intel SSD, and NVIDIA GeForce GTX 485M graphics. The guest and host were using Ubuntu 10.10, the Linux 2.6.35 kernel, GNOME 2.32.0 desktop with Compiz, X.Org Server 1.9.0, NVIDIA 270.29 display driver, and an EXT4 file-system.
While Nexuiz is certainly playable with a high-end NVIDIA GeForce GTX 485M "Fermi" graphics processor with the latest binary display driver, within the VirtualBox 4.0.4 guest with having 3D acceleration enabled and the video memory capacity maxed out for the guest at 128MB, the frame-rate didn't even hit 16 FPS. As indicated by the straight line across tested resolutions for Nexuiz, the performance was CPU bottlenecked.
Even OpenArena, which is playable with nearly any graphics card and even on the open-source Mesa / Gallium3D drivers, the performance was being choked by the CPU and was not playable under the VirtualBox 4.0.4 guest. These results can be further analyzed on OpenBenchmarking.org.
The 3D acceleration in VirtualBox 4.0 for Linux is at least usable and stable at the desktop if you just care about running Compiz or other desktop effects, but for more demanding rendering work, it is not too pleasant at this time. At least, however, there is 3D acceleration support available to the guests compared to other Linux virtualization solutions that lack such support. To not much surprise, the best 2D/3D acceleration that we have found in the virtualization world is with VMware.
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