What's the best hosted virtualisation suite?

Summary:A lot of the fuss behind virtualisation is focused around the datacentre. That's all well and good, but there is a whole world of virtualisation for workstations where competition for the best suite is red-hot and constantly improving.

A lot of the fuss behind virtualisation is focused around the datacentre. That's all well and good, but there is a whole world of virtualisation for workstations where competition for the best suite is red-hot and constantly improving.

Previously we took a look at the bare-metal hypervisors that are favoured in datacentres. Today we look at Type 2 virtualisation — where one operating system needs to be running to host another operating system.

The line-up for this round-up is: VMware Workstation, Virtualbox, Parallels Workstation and KVM. Wine is also tested to provide some control to the test and because it can achieve some of the benefits of a hypervisor for running Windows applications.

Hardware

The workstation we used for testing was an HP Z800 workstation; this system features dual-Xeon W5580 processors running at 3.2GHz, 2GB RAM and a 1TB HDD. A monstrous Nvidia Quadro FX 5800 with 4GB RAM is also part of the mix.

Ubuntu 9.04 was chosen as the base operating system as it provided the widest range of hypervisors to examine and allowed for testing of KVM and Wine, which are not available on any Windows operating systems.

Windows XP SP2 was installed and the following tests were performed:

  • Cinebench single CPU
  • Cinebench multiple CPU
  • Cinebench openGL
  • Start-up time

Windows XP was chosen over its Windows Vista or Windows 7 brethren as it is stable, lighter and a well-known quantity. We felt that this would allow each of the hypervisors to show off their potential with the additional extra packages and tools included for XP. KVM was the only hypervisor to not provide an additional package to install to accelerate Windows XP's performance.

Topics: Windows, Microsoft, Virtualization

About

Chris started his journalistic adventure in 2006 as the Editor of Builder AU after originally joining CBS as a programmer. After a Canadian sojourn, he returned in 2011 as the Editor of TechRepublic Australia, and is now the Australian Editor of ZDNet.

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