Parallels boosts virtualisation graphics

News 30 Mar, 2009

New Parallels Workstation Extreme lets each virtual machine have its own dedicated graphics card.

Parallels latest desktop virtualisation offers ‘near’ native 3D graphics, the firm has claimed.

The company plans to offer ‘near’ native 3D graphics in its latest version of Workstation Extreme, taking advantage of new technology from Intel, Nvidia and HP.

This works by allowing each virtual machine instance to be hooked up to its own dedicated graphics card, offering graphics power on par with a workstation setup, the firm explained.

“One highend workstation can have multiple graphics cards,” said senior product manager Ray Chews. “It allows users to have a full experience their hardware offers.”

Previous versions of virtualisation software – be it from Parallels or rivals such as VMware – have not been able to connect directly to a graphics card, meaning graphics have been run through emulation, leaving many applications unable to run on virtual machines.

“Existing virtualisation solutions have been emulation happening on the hypervisor,” Chews told IT PRO.

Parallels Workstation Extreme supports professional graphics cards using Intel’s virtualisation technology for directed I/O (VT-d) and Nvidia’s new SLI multi-OS technology. It offers users the ability to use up to 16 CPU cores on a guest operating system, the firm claimed.

The company admitted that CPU intensive applications which will still see a slightly less than perfect performance, about 90 to 95 per cent of that offered by running straight on the hardware. “Will virtualisation ever get to zero loss on CPU? It’s one thing we’re looking to,” said Chews.

Parallels Workstation Extreme will be available by mid-May, at a cost of $399 (£280).

Click here to watch a video clip about the future of virtualisation.