Keith Combs' Blahg

Ramblings from another nerd on the grid

Hardware Virtualization and Planning for Windows Virtual PC

Hardware Virtualization and Planning for Windows Virtual PC

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windows 7 blog background Many of you have started to study the new features and additions available for Windows 7.  The virtualization group in Microsoft took the covers off a new product called Windows Virtual PC.  Windows Virtual PC has some fascinating features which will be welcome additions to those of you that have been using Microsoft Virtual PC 2007 over the years.

Before we get into those features, some research and planning is in order.  If you are planning to use Windows Virtual PC, then you need to be aware that a prerequisite is hardware virtualization.  Intel and AMD both ship processors that support hardware virtualization. 

Intel CPU hardware virtualization is called Intel Virtualization Technology (Intel VT).  AMD also includes AMD Virtualization (AMD-V) in a number of their processors.  You would think that all of the modern processors would ship with these capabilities.  However, you would be wrong.  Not all processors are created equally and it isn’t easy to tell them apart.  Here are a couple of examples of what I am talking about:

Example 1

  1. Go to http://processorfinder.intel.com/Default.aspx.
  2. Click the Notebook radio button.
  3. Click the “Select a processor family” drop down list and click “Intel® Core™2 Quad Mobile Processor
  4. The result should show the Q9100 and Q9000 processors.  In the Supported Features list, click Intel Virtualization Technology then click the “Filter on Selections” button.
  5. Observe the Q9100 disappears. 

Yep, you read that correctly.  The Intel® Core™2 Quad Mobile Processor Q9100 does not have Intel VT and therefore a laptop purchased with that Quad processor will not run Windows Virtual PC.  And therefore it won’t run Windows XP Mode.

Example 2

  1. Go to http://processorfinder.intel.com/Default.aspx.
  2. Click the Notebook radio button.
  3. Click the “Select a processor family” drop down list and click “Intel® Core™2 Duo Mobile Processor
  4. The result should show 109 different processors.  In the Supported Features list, click Intel Virtualization Technology then click the “Filter on Selections” button.
  5. Observe only 86 processors remain.

Yep, you read that correctly.  23 Core 2 Duo processors don’t have Intel VT and therefore won’t run Windows Virtual PC.

Summary

If you are planning to use Windows Virtual PC, please plan your hardware purchases carefully.  This is especially true if you are planning to use Window XP Mode to run legacy applications on Windows 7 using this feature set.  Both Intel and AMD have documented the specs of their processors, chipsets and families.  Don’t assume the OEM makers will have this clearly defined on the laptop and desktop purchasing sites.  It’s going to be all too easy to make a mistake if you aren’t careful.

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  • Any idea which chipset the Lenovo T61P is running?

  • I'm pretty sure all of the T61p's that used to be on our corp standards have Intel VT.

  • My lowly D820 that Keith always makes fun of has Intel-VT.

    Running 7 RC1 with XP mode, 7 being booted out of a VHD as not to disrupt my Vista production install.

    I think XP mode is really going to help us out in a lot of areas.

  • I know.  Isn't that wierd?  The D820 (some of the models) will run it, and that Quad Core won't.

    FYI, My D820 won't but no matter because it run Windows 7 very nicely and I am using a SSD drive in it right now.

  • I believe that may be an error, other stuff on Intel's site says that the Q9100 does support VT-x.

    http://ark.intel.com/Product.aspx?id=37033