Split personality PC?

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Split personality PC?

Postposted on Thu May 08, 2014 5:47 pm

I've never played with VMWare ESXi, so I'm asking this question. Is it possible to have two graphics cards, and run two OSs on my PC simultaneously, and have them output on different graphics cards simultaneously? Like having two PCs in one? And if I have IOMMU virtualization, I can basically play 3D games on Windows while running Linux on the other virtualized half of my PC at the same time, right?
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Re: Split personality PC?

Postposted on Thu May 08, 2014 6:26 pm

Crayon Shin Chan wrote:I've never played with VMWare ESXi, so I'm asking this question. Is it possible to have two graphics cards, and run two OSs on my PC simultaneously, and have them output on different graphics cards simultaneously? Like having two PCs in one? And if I have IOMMU virtualization, I can basically play 3D games on Windows while running Linux on the other virtualized half of my PC at the same time, right?


I attempted to make my computer into two via this method for lan parties in college. While you can technically do it, there is no good way to get 3d acceleration within the VE. Maybe things have gotten better now, I did it with 2 x HD3870's. Graphic intense situations always turned choppy and it's a second rate experience all around. Maybe something like Minecraft would be attainable, but if you are looking at running say 2 x BF4 off the same system it won't work well. Even then, you better play something that allows connections from the same IP/Mac address (so no CS:GO or the like). Goodluck if you continue forth, it was a fun experiment.
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Re: Split personality PC?

Postposted on Thu May 08, 2014 7:32 pm

I was hoping Hyper V's Generation 2 virtual machines might be capable of this. I'm not familiar enough with RemoteFX vGPU to know offhand.

Based on some googling RemoteFX vGPU is supposed to offload VM graphics loads to discrete GPUs if the system meets SLAT and other requirements. Windows Server 2008 and newer supports up to 4 graphics cards with RemoteFX but they must be identical cards.
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Re: Split personality PC?

Postposted on Thu May 08, 2014 7:43 pm

I don't think you could do that on ESXi, as it is just a core/barebone OS to run your VMs, manageable from other hosts thru network. ESXi doesnt have a straight video output of any other thing that the console, and to do what you are thinking (without talking about 3d acceleration yet) you should run some thin client somewhere else and may use stuff like RemoteFX to do some use of the 3d card on the server (asigned first to a particular VM, non shareable). But the setup you want may be posible with VMWare Workstation installed over the main OS of your PC, and the 3d thingy may even work better with VirtualBox. Anyway virtualization is a very interesting and deep subject, if you have some spare hardware and time the best way to learn is trying, it'll be a lot o fun.
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Re: Split personality PC?

Postposted on Thu May 08, 2014 8:49 pm

Stumbled into a bit of this poking around for info on virtual machines recently.
It seems one popular choice is to setup a Xen hypervisor ( https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Xen) on a machine with I/O MMU (Intel vT-d or AMD-Vi).
The CPU, mobo chipset, and BIOS/UEFI need to support that, along with the peripherals to be rerouted having Function Level Reset:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/VT-d#I.2F ... nd_VT-d.29
At the least, I saw some videos on YouTube that had it working on AMD hardware.
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Re: Split personality PC?

Postposted on Sat May 10, 2014 3:13 am

Wasn't Xen like an alternative to ESXi? Why is it more capable, is it lower level?
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Re: Split personality PC?

Postposted on Sat May 10, 2014 3:36 am

Crayon Shin Chan wrote:Wasn't Xen like an alternative to ESXi? Why is it more capable, is it lower level?

Xen is Open Source and requires a *NIX host. ESXi is proprietary, runs "bare metal" (so is arguably lower level than Xen, though an argument could also be made for them both being "type 1" hypervisors), and has better support for Windows guests.
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Re: Split personality PC?

Postposted on Sat May 10, 2014 10:05 am

The hardware and firmware (vT-d/AMD-Vi and Function Level Reset) support seem to be absolutely necessary, from what I could glean. Which software is used for virtualization appears to be more of a matter of preferences or usage.

Xen showing up frequently is probably because it's free and does most, if not all, of what those people need it to do. (Consumer entertainment / workstations)
For your "LAN party in a box", this is likely to be sufficient.

I imagine server hosting facilities would run VMWare for their nodes so it'd be a single OS on a physical machine instead of trying to handle a mix of operating systems. It also means not having to worry about a "master" instance that, if it failed, could take all of the virtualized machines down with it.
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