Vmware vs Virtualbox vs KVM vs XEN: virtual machines performance comparison

Written by Gionatan Danti on . Posted in Virtualization

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Sandra CPU Benchmark

To evaluate pure CPU speed, I used the proven Sandra CPU benchmark, that show both integer and floating-point performances.

Sandra CPU benchmark

As you can see, VMware takes the lead in both ALU and FPU performance, but it is the integer speed which show the higher advantage. Xen also shows a bit higher results on integer test than the other contenders. The key point here is to identify what CPU and ISA version are presented to the guest os by the virtualizer:

 

VMware

VirtualBox

KVM

Xen

CPU name/type

Intel(R) Core(TM) i7 CPU 860 @ 2.80GHz

Intel(R) Core(TM) i7 CPU 860 @ 2.80GHz

QEMU Virtual CPU version 0.9.1

Intel(R) Core(TM) i7 CPU 860 @ 2.80GHz

SSE

yes

yes

yes

yes

SSE2

yes

yes

yes

yes

SSE3 / SSSE3

yes / yes

yes / no

yes / no

yes / yes

SSE4 / 4.1 / 4.2

yes / yes / yes

no / no / no

no / no / no

yes / yes / yes

You are right: only VMware and Xen present to the guest OS the SSSE3 and newer extensions. As Sandra's ALU test can run in a optimized SSE4 mode, it give higher results on the virtualizers that export these instructions.

The FPU test, on the other side, runs using SSE3 and all the virtualizers examined today export them to guest OS. The net result is that VirtualBox and KVM are on par with VMware, while Xen show some problems giving a considerably lower result. This is a trend that you will see on most CPU-heavy tests: the first three software shown somewhat similar results, while Xen is slower.

UPDATE: a recent article comparing KVM vs VirtualBox can be found here: http://www.ilsistemista.net/index.php/virtualization/12-kvm-vs-virtualbox-40-on-rhel-6.html

Comments   

 
#1 Nathan 2012-09-12 03:12
This is a terrible review, to install the VMware paravirtual drivers but not the KVM Windows paravirtual drivers. All results from VMware must be discarded for comparison purposes.
 
 
#2 Marcelo 2015-11-15 03:16
A quick comparison I made between VMware Workstation Player and VirtualBox, with XP as guest, shows a ridiculous I/O advantage of VB, while VMware has a big advantage on 3D graphics.
 
 
#3 Gionatan Danti 2015-11-15 09:32
Quoting Marcelo:
A quick comparison I made between VMware Workstation Player and VirtualBox, with XP as guest, shows a ridiculous I/O advantage of VB, while VMware has a big advantage on 3D graphics.


Hi Marcelo,
VBox higher I/O speed probably is an artifact of VBox not honoring write barrier (synchronized writes) by default. While this give much higher speed, storage consistency is somewhat reduced and I do not suggest to disable write barriers on production host/machines.
 

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