Hyper-V video issues fixed by Windows Server 2008 R2 SP1 Beta?

Recently we’ve been considering a hardware refresh for our developer/consultant/architect laptop build (on Windows Server 2008 R2 Standard with Hyper-V). After a fair amount of deliberation we decided to pilot a new model but stumbled massively at the first hurdle: when we enabled the Hyper-V role on a new Dell Latitude E6410 we got a blue screen. Further testing revealed that the graphics driver was at fault and the SVGA driver worked fine. However, the SVGA driver only has single monitor support. Back to the drawing board.

Continue reading “Hyper-V video issues fixed by Windows Server 2008 R2 SP1 Beta?”

The definitive word on Hyper-V high-end graphics performance

The Microsoft virtualisation team are certainly taking community engagement and transparency seriously these days. I’m happy to report that Ben Armstrong (Virtual PC Guy) has posted the definitive summary of Hyper-V high-end graphics performance issues. He was the first person to discover the issue and has produced most of the guidance on it since. Key things to note:
  • It’s not an issue on processors with SLAT, but these are only just hitting the market in laptops in the near future
  • It’s not an issue with the SVGA driver
    • I’ve asked if the SVGA driver might ever offer multi-monitor support. He’s looking in to it. This might be a great compromise until processors with SLAT become ubiquitous
  • This same problem occurs in all native Hypervisors
    • Virtual PC and VMWare Workstation do not have the same problem but they are Type 2 hypervisors and do not offer the same performance as Hyper-V

So… there’s still no conclusive solution but it’s good to have the full context of the problem. For more background on why this matters for SharePoint see my previous post on the matter.

Building a SharePoint 2007/2010 development environment – Part III: Host image build and performance benchmarks

Having agreed the project objectives and designed the system, I turned my attention to the Hyper-V host image build. This is a high-level build guide with start-up time and baseline memory consumption benchmarks at key milestones. These benchmark figures were taken from the Windows Server 2008 R2 Release Candidate build and are admittedly a bit imprecise. However, they do provide an overall indication of system performance as things were added to and removed from the installation. Although I do not have precise figures on RTM improvements, I spot-checked a few of these benchmarks when I rebuilt the system on RTM. Start-up times improved slightly at each milestone. In fact, the final benchmarks came in at 100MB less idle memory used in the RTM release. Continue reading “Building a SharePoint 2007/2010 development environment — Part III: Host image build and performance benchmarks”

Hyper-V graphics performance is on the way… if you need a new laptop

Dell announced today that they are releasing Alienware and Studio laptops with Intel Core i7 processors. Why is this worth regurgitating? The Core i7 processors feature the Nehalem processor microarchitecture, which means that Hyper-V V2 (in Windows Server 2008 R2) can take advantage of SLAT (Second Level Address Translation). SLAT is implemented as EPT (Extended Paging Tables) in Intel technology and NPT (Nested Paging Tables) for AMD. Here’s Microsoft’s summary of the new Hyper-V support for SLAT: Continue reading “Hyper-V graphics performance is on the way… if you need a new laptop”

Hyper-V graphics performance and SharePoint 2010 development

I’ve mentioned a couple of times that I’ve built a Windows Server 2008 R2 (with Hyper-V) laptop for SharePoint development but I haven’t mentioned one of the only major gripes that I’ve not been able to solve – namely that graphics-intensive operations bring the system to a halt. This is particularly noticeable when audio is playing and you launch a new program while Hyper-V is exporting (as if you have a sonic performance metric), or (to use the Microsoft example) when pressing CTRL+ALT+DEL.

Until the other day I had always chalked this up to something about this driver (an NVIDIA GeForce 8400 M GS on a Dell XPS M1330) and the Hyper-V role or Server 2008 R2 itself (since we didn’t have this problem with the same driver on Windows 7). However, one of our technical architects got a bit more annoyed by this than me and identified that it’s a known issue for almost every graphics driver on 64-bit-capable laptops. Continue reading “Hyper-V graphics performance and SharePoint 2010 development”