8 core Apple Mac runs Hyper-V!

So I always like to hear war stories about people playing with our latest stuff. This week I got to hear about Matt Duggan who works for Transurban and was wanting to put Windows Server 2008 and Hyper-V RC1 on his Mac. Not just any Mac. This baby has 8 cores and 10GB of RAM. He reports the performance as being awesome though he did run into issues with the EFI support (instead of the usual BIOS config). Anyhow I’ll let him tell you a bit about it...

“...To be honest, when I first decided to try it I expected to be in for a long weekend of hacking around. Vista (RTM, not SP1) had been a real pain to get working. SP1 was better, but still took a while to get everything sorted out and performance wasn't spectacular. Windows Server 2008 really blew me away though. Desktop performance is through the roof, virtualisation capabilities baked right into the OS are something I've wanted for years, and I can now actually make full use of the crazy specs of the Mac Pro. I fully expect to shrink my OSX partition down to minimum size, use it as a bootloader, blow away Vista and use this as my combo test/gaming/home office workhorse.DSC_3584

Windows Server 2008 installed much faster than anticipated. There were issues with the way the Mac wanted to boot during installation that meant I had to force an EFI boot from DVD after each restart (twice in total I think) but that problem went away immediately after the build completed. Driver support was pretty solid - I have a handful of unrecognised devices but the Apple Bootcamp drivers sorted out everything else. I now have full sound, Aero, DirectX, bluetooth, etc up and running. Tricking the Mac Pro (early 2008) into booting Windows Server 2008 with Intel VT enabled is hard. Boot Camp somehow disables it for no obvious reason, but if you boot into OSX, go into System Preferences, and tell it to boot from your Windows 2008 partition (and hit restart) VT is enabled. A cold boot directly into 2008 consistently results in VT being disabled though, which makes for an annoying reboot process.

Performance is extremely good. I'll throw more disks into it in the morning to distribute the IOPS for the VMs more evenly, but for now I have four 2008 servers building at once without any hassles  and was able to run a game while I waited for the builds to complete. Mac2008-2 I’d have to say that this isn’t a cheap option... a server license isn't cheap, and the hardware is pretty pricey. I've spec’d this machine up as far as I could justify - 10GB RAM and 3 x 750GB drives. Not the most common build around, but perfect for a high performance home test lab...”

Sounds great to me Matt! To quote a prominent Australian car manufacturer...I just want one!

Comments (5)

  1. Anonymous says:

    I received this in my email last week. With all the work stuff on at present (heard of a new little thing

  2. Now heres the confusing thing for many people when viewing available memory in Vista or Server 2008. What you see as “in use” in Task Manager is not truly representative of the actual memory usage in use by applications.

    The memory manager now takes a larger working set for cache functions. For example, in my Vista x64 SP1 machine I have 4GB RAM. I have Outlook, IE and quite a few apps open incl a local SQL Server. The Task manager reports 2.3GB in use. Now is it really using 2.3GB RAM?? No. The memory manager makes sure things start fast and the system cache is using more too. Fire up process explorer with nothing else running and tell me what the System cache is using. In mine it is sitting on 600MB used.

    In this instance he was installing four VMs and playing a game! Id expect a fair amount of memory usage for that too! 🙂

  3. Anonymous says:

    Matt Duggan presteerde het om Hyper-V op een wel heel opmerkelijke machine te installeren. Lees het volledige

  4. George says:

    The top-left picture shows that about 60% of 10GB RAM is taken.  It would be interesting to get more details on how many processes/OSs were running at the time the picuture was taken.  This intrigues me because on startup Windows Vista takes almost 800MB out of 2GB available on my laptop.  Currently I’m downloading SP1 and have 2 tabs open in IE7 and the task manager shows that 1.33GB is used.  Is this common?  Are there any configuration options available that could help reduce memory usage?

  5. Matt says:

    As Michael mentioned, I had four VMs building (Windows 2008 x64 guests) at the time, each assigned 1GB of RAM each. A few IE sessions were running, Hyper-V console, MSPaint, Live Messenger, etc. Plus any of the half dozen apps that fire up on startup for me. So quite a lot of stuff was running at the time.

    Fresh after a reboot I’m seeing about 500-650MB of RAM consumed, so memory usage seems quite a lot lower than Vista would be for the same purposes.

    I spent a fair amount of time disabling features that I didn’t need too, which would have pushed memory consumption down a little.

    I’ve since pushed it a little further, with five VMs assigned a total of 7GB of RAM between them running a TS farm (with active users) and been able to work quite happily in Office the whole time.

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