Intel Core i7 Virtualization Performance

Written by Michael Larabel in Processors on 22 April 2009. Page 1 of 6. 24 Comments

Earlier this month we published Intel Core i7 Linux benchmarks that looked at the overall desktop performance when running Ubuntu Linux. One area we had not looked at in the original article was the virtualization performance, but we are back today with Intel Core i7 920 Linux benchmarks when testing out the KVM hypervisor and Sun xVM VirtualBox. In this article we are providing a quick look at Intel's Nehalem virtualization performance on Linux.

We used the same system as last time, which consisted of an Intel Core i7 920 CPU (during our virtualization testing we were running it at 3.60GHz), an ASRock X58 Super Computer motherboard, 3GB of CSX DDR3-1600MHz memory, a 320GB Seagate ST3320620AS hard drive, and a NVIDIA GeForce 9800GTX graphics card. The host operating system and guest operating systems were Ubuntu 9.04 using the x86_64 architecture with the Linux 2.6.28 kernel, GNOME 2.26.0, X Server 1.6.0, GCC 4.3.3, and the default EXT3 file-system.

For the KVM (Kernel-based Virtual Machine) virtualization we were using virt-manager and had allowed the virtual machine to have access to all eight logical CPU cores and a maximum memory capacity of 2.5GHz. For our VirtualBox testing we had installed Sun's xVM VirtualBox 2.1.4. This testing had started prior to the release of VirtualBox 2.2, but afterwards we went back, tried out VirtualBox 2.2, and found it in these benchmarks to perform about the same speed as the earlier 2.1.4 release. As Canonical dropped the dom0 kernel support with Ubuntu 8.10 and later, Xen virtualization was left out of testing.

Prior to testing out the KVM and VirtualBox performance with the Intel Nehalem processor, we measured the performance again of the host operating system. The tests we used through the Phoronix Test Suite ( was timed ImageMagick compilation, 7-Zip compression, BYTE Unix Benchmark, SciMark, LAME MP3 encoding, FLAC audio encoding, FFmpeg, GnuPG, OpenSSL, GraphicsMagick, Bwfirt, C-Ray, POV-Ray, IOzone, and Flexible IO Tester.

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