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VMware Virtualization With OpenGL Still Smacks Oracle VirtualBox

Michael Larabel

Published on 8 August 2012
Written by Michael Larabel
Page 1 of 3 - 16 Comments

Earlier this year I said VMware's virtual GPU driver was running fast for Linux -- in comparison to Oracle's VM VirtualBox 3D guest acceleration support. This continues to be the case with VMware's OpenGL stack leading the way with superior support and performance. Recently I ran some desktop virtualization tests under VMware Fusion 4.1.3 and Oracle VM VirtualBox 4.1.18 from the Retina MacBook Pro with OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion host. Even with the OS X host, VMware's 3D support exposed to the Ubuntu 12.04 LTS virtualized guest was much faster.

There's many more Retina MacBook Pro benchmarks on the way as well as comparing the performance of OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion to Linux and other operating systems, while this article just has some OpenGL guest benchmarking I did when curious to see how VMware Fusion and VirtualBox were comparing from the OS X host.

The Retina MacBook Pro was the 2.3GHz model (Intel Coore i7 3615QM; Ivy Bridge) and 6GB of RAM (of the 8GB total) was allocated to each VM instance independently along with 30GB of storage backed by the MacBook Pro's SSD. The host remained in the same configuration during testing and each time a clean install of Ubuntu 12.04 LTS was used with the Linux 3.2 kernel. The guest support for each virtualization platform was installed (for VMware this is mostly already mainline) and all other settings remaining stock.

Both VirtualBox and VMware Fusion advertised OpenGL 2.1 compliance with their guest driver implementation. While Oracle has their own out-of-tree driver stack, VMware's solution is integrated into the mainline Linux kernel for the DRM component (vmwgfx) and then there's also the Gallium3D driver found in Mesa. For those not familiar with VMware's 3D guest stack, I've written about it many times beyond the OpenGL performance results from earlier this year. Overall, it fits much better with Linux compared to the VirtualBox drivers that kernel developers view as tainted crap.

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