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Is it still possible to run virtualization software like Virtualbox on processors that don't support Vt-d? I understand that they won't have direct access to the peripheral hardware like video acceleration, ethernet, etc with passthrough. I'm not particularly concerned with those though. I ordered a Thinkpad x220 with the 2410m CPU, which does not have support for Vt-d. I'd like to be able to use it to run light linux Vm's for when I'm traveling though.

Wikipedia info on Vt-d http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/VT-d#I.2FO_MMU_virtualization_.28AMD-Vi_and_VT-d.29

CPU info http://www.notebookcheck.net/Intel-Core-i5-2410M-Notebook-Processor.45317.0.html

I've already got a capable 2720qm machine/12gb of RAM that I use for VM's, but it's much bigger and less portable- running VM's on the x220 would be ideal, but I'm not sure that CPU has the needed support.

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4 Answers 4

I have had no trouble with VMWare (Player / Server) versions in PC Box without virtualization support. I think VirtualBox runs ok, too.

Other solutions like VMWare ESX or MS Hyper-V do need virtualization.

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It works.

I had to in a pinch run an XP VM on an Asus EEEPC (we're talking about an Intel Atom 270 with 1 GB DDR RAM here) that had Ubuntu Netmix on it; installed VirtualBox, XP ran fine. It was understandably slow, cpu was running near 100%, and the fan was going non-stop, but it got the job done.

Like any virtualization setup, RAM is king, so if you want to do this regularly (and want to be able to do work on the host simultaneously), max out your RAM.

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Yes, it's possible. The important feature to have is VT-x support. Without this, virtualizing an OS like Windows XP will be slower, and you won't be able to use others, such as Snow Leopard, at all*. VT-d is some kind of bonus extension to VT-x that will enable the virtualized OS to have direct access to hardware functions.

*Not that you'd even think of emulating Snow Leopard, of course.

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If you are running Linux in your host and are going to virtualize supported guests you should probably give Xen a try, it uses paravirtualization (a method of virtualization in which the guest runs a modified kernel) and has the best performance I know of without using any virtualization extensions.

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