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

Written by Gionatan Danti on . Posted in Virtualization

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Cache and Memory subsystems

Current systems can be memory-performance limited in a number of situations, so it is crucial to show the cache and memory subsystems performance both in term of bandwidth and latency.

To collect these data, I used Sandra Cache and Memory tests.

First, let see the L1/L2/L3 cache bandwidth results:

Cache bandwidth

While VMware, VirtualBox and KVM give us quite similar in results, Xen is behind the competitors. This can be a results of a more-heavy hypervisor or, more probably, of the “double encapsulation” of the guest system.

Now, it's time for memory bandwidth results:

Memory bandwidth

The story is reversed now: Xen is slight faster, followed by KVM, VMware and, finally, by VirtualBox (which lag considerably behind the other). It seems that Xen do a very good use of the nested page table feature.

Other than bandwidth, a very important parameter is latency. Let see the latency data for caches first:

Cache latency

The results are quite similar, but VMware seems a bit more slow while fetching data from L2 cache.

Now the memory latency results:

Memory latency

The results are very close, with VMware at the slowest end and Xen at the fastest end.

Please consider that repeating the test many times, I often obtained quite different results. While it is interesting to analyze these data, many factor are at play here. For example, the slower show of VMware can be simply due to some host-side work that the system was doing in that precise moment. At the other end, for the same reason, it can be that Xen has the potential to be faster than it showed here.

However, all in all, Xen seems to be the fastest hypervisor in these memory related tests.

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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