VT-D Support On Mac Pro (Early 2008)

Discussion in 'General Questions' started by ripnetuk, Jun 27, 2008.

  1. ripnetuk

    ripnetuk New Member

    Messages:
    5
    Hi,
    Im here because I really want to play with the new VT-D tech, that I believe is in my 8 core Early 2008 Mac pro (5400 chipset, 5400 processor, which I believe is the 'magic' combo).

    I know the beta didnt support vt-d on the mac (windows only), but does the release version support it?

    Also, im a home user, so cant really consider spending this kind of money on the product, but I am very interested in playing with it... I read what was said in another thread that a) you are adding exciting features to the desktop product and that b) you sometimes sell the proper server product to developers for less than retail. So my questions are:

    1. Does the current server release support VT-D on the Mac? (i want to pass through a USB card to run DVB cards in Linux for mythtv, and another USB card to another guest to run a webcam secuirty system).

    2. Are you planning on adding the most exciting features for me (VT-D support and 4-core in guest support) to the desktop product?

    3. Is there any option to buy the server product for non-commercial use for less than the full enterprise price? im thinking I could spend around 1/3 to 1/4 of the price. If you would consider doing a home/education/charity version for a lesser price, it would be great... (im guessing most people dont like playing with VM tech as much as me, so there may not be much demand for it).

    I would try Xen to get the VT-D support, but Apple doesnt flip the MSR register 3a to enable and lock VT-X in their EFI bios - im assuming that Parallels does the wrmsr instruction in the product itself? so i guess (for interest) question 4 is

    4. Do current versions of Parallels enable vt-x on the Mac pro by an explicit wrmsr instruction within one of your drivers somewhere? is there a similar feature-bit required for VT-D? (ive downloaded the intel handbook and looked at the bitfield for the MSR reg 3A (IA32_FEATURE_CONTROL), and see nothing about seperately enabling VT-D

    Thanks, and great product by the way - congrats on your 1000000th sale :)

    George
  2. John@Parallels

    John@Parallels Parallels Team

    Messages:
    523
    Please see answers inline

    1. Does the current server release support VT-D on the Mac? (i want to pass through a USB card to run DVB cards in Linux for mythtv, and another USB card to another guest to run a webcam secuirty system).

    We are planning to add this feature in Q1 2009

    2. Are you planning on adding the most exciting features for me (VT-D support and 4-core in guest support) to the desktop product?

    up to 4 core is supported now in guest

    3. Is there any option to buy the server product for non-commercial use for less than the full enterprise price? im thinking I could spend around 1/3 to 1/4 of the price. If you would consider doing a home/education/charity version for a lesser price, it would be great... (im guessing most people dont like playing with VM tech as much as me, so there may not be much demand for it).

    Management for now discussing this, and I am sure we will find some solution

    I would try Xen to get the VT-D support, but Apple doesnt flip the MSR register 3a to enable and lock VT-X in their EFI bios - im assuming that Parallels does the wrmsr instruction in the product itself? so i guess (for interest) question 4 is

    4. Do current versions of Parallels enable vt-x on the Mac pro by an explicit wrmsr instruction within one of your drivers somewhere? is there a similar feature-bit required for VT-D? (ive downloaded the intel handbook and looked at the bitfield for the MSR reg 3A (IA32_FEATURE_CONTROL), and see nothing about seperately enabling VT-D

    Will clarify and post answer
  3. ripnetuk

    ripnetuk New Member

    Messages:
    5
    Thank you :)

    Hi John,

    Thank you very much for taking the time to answer my questions.

    Since I posted, I have found that on the Mac Pro (early 2008), the VT-X enable flag is set to 0 after a cold boot(ie, VT-X off, but NOT locked), and you can use CrystalCPUID under Windows XP to enable and lock the bit (by setting to 5). Once it is set, it is locked until the next [very - power cable out] cold boot. What this means is that I can effectively enable VT-X on my mac pro for windows apps :) :) :)

    this means that now my 'preferred' parallels product is now going to be server for windows (or maybe bare metal version...) so I can get VT-D support ASAP (I have bought a pci-e USB card, and will be trying it tonight).

    Its still unthinkable to spend this kind of money for just playing around with though, so a [substantially] discounted version for non-commercial use is what im hoping for... (your comments sound encouraging - thank you for at least considering it).

    Also, I couldn't justify paying for a support contract (my media center is not quite mission critical!!).

    Finally, some of the links on your page to join the beta program seem to be dead... i will have a serious try tonight to grab the latest beta of Windows server, and provide feedback via the beta forum.

    thanks for listening,

    George
  4. John@Parallels

    John@Parallels Parallels Team

    Messages:
    523
    I want to add some additional information here with comments from corresponding developers:

    1. Does the current server release support VT-D on the Mac? (i want to pass through a USB card to run DVB cards in Linux for mythtv, and another USB card to another guest to run a webcam secuirty system).

    We will officially support 3 kind of PCI devices - NICs, Video Cards and Sound Cards. Other devices also may work.
    But for dedication of USB device to VM one don't need VT-d. In PD3 USB support already included - you may use it. In Parallels Server it will
    be introduced later this year


    2. Are you planning on adding the most exciting features for me (VT-D support and 4-core in guest support) to the desktop product?

    This was my typo, current Parallels Desktop version supports only on CPU,
    4-way SMP will be added into PD4. VT-d is under consideration now.


    Beta program is closed, I suppose you need to call sales to discuss situation
  5. ripnetuk

    ripnetuk New Member

    Messages:
    5
    Hi,

    Thanks for the answers. Its good to encounter a company that gives feedback like this.

    Ive experimented in the past with USB passthrough (as opposed to pci passthrough), and found that, despite claims otherwise, ive never seen it working on windows. I have tried VMWare workstation, VMWare server (both BSOD on a rock-solid system), VirtualBox (devices always locked). I have not tied your product yet, although I plan to at some point soon.

    On the MacOS side (same machine), it works great in VMWare fusion - for about an hour, then the entire (Mac pro 8 core) machine slows down, very badly, looks like its swapping like crazy, even though ive only got 3 machines with 2 gig assigned each, on a 10 gig machine... i make that 4 gigs free, so why all the swap activity? to be fair, im unsure if thats the USB passthrough, lepoard, or VMWare itself. So thats why im not using the USB passthough...

    IN contract, ive had good success with Xen and a PCI video card with passthrough (pre VT-D as well). That worked perfectly and was rock solid for years.

    and im about to test your server product, with a PCI passthrough and USB passthrough card, to see if that works... i will feedback into this forum.

    Im also going to give Xen another whirl, provided I can find a way of setting the MSR registers to enable VT-X, but I will be keeping an eye on Parallels server to see if some kind of cheaper legal option is available for enthuiasts...

    I hope you enjoy the same success with your server product as you are having with the desktop one :)

    all the best

    George
    Last edited: Jul 1, 2008
  6. toshi3

    toshi3 New Member

    Messages:
    21

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