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VMware guests clocks running fast

Posted on 2008-06-17
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Last Modified: 2008-08-16
I have a VMware Server box running on a HP Proliant DL365 box (2 Opteron CPU's, dual core).  The guest clocks are running way too fast.  I've tried adding the following:

- Configure all client to sync time with the host in the VMware Tools
- Add the following lines to C:\Documents and Settings\All Users\Application Data\VMware\VMware Server\config.ini

host.cpukHz = "2800000"
host.noTSC = "TRUE"
ptsc.noTSC = "TRUE"
hostinfo.noTSC = "TRUE"
tools.syncTime = "TRUE"

Usually I get a few days or a couple of weeks before the guest clocks start running fast.  But after making these changes all the guests started running fast within a few hours.

The OS is WIndows 2003 DataCentre Edition.  This issue also occurred with Windows 2003 R2 Standard edition as well.
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Question by:RenovoIT
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by:larstr
ID: 21805960
What guest OS'es are you using?
Have you installed VMware Tools?
Syncing clocks through VMware Tools will only correct the clock if the guest clock is too slow.

Have you tried disabling any power management software in the host OS and also in the BIOS of the host machine (set to maximum performance)?

Lars
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by:HeinoSkov
ID: 21807472
If you sync the time using VMware Tools, you should disable the Windows Time service, unless it is a domain controller.

Which OS is running in the guests?
Theres a knowledgebase article from VMware regarding Linux guests:
http://kb.vmware.com/kb/1420

Regarding Windows guests look at this article:
http://kb.vmware.com/kb/1227

Regards
Heino
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by:bleeuwen
ID: 21810484
Use only one time service, if windows is used use the vmware tools time synchronization or windows time service not both. If only one time service is used (the vmware sync) switch over to windows time service, this time service will correct the time if it is too fast or too slow. VMware sync only does a catch up of time (goes faster).

I've also experienced this nasty habbit of the vmware time synchronization, and with a few tools in combination (application, oracle, windows 2003) there was no possibility to get the time sync right wiith the vmware sync tool (this was on ESX).

A good timekeeping document of vmware with all the information on timekeeping can be found at: http://www.vmware.com/pdf/vmware_timekeeping.pdf
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by:larstr
ID: 21810591
bleuwen,
The best way of keeping the clock in synch on ESX is to use the Descheduled Time Service:
http://download3.vmware.com/vmworld/2006/tac9710.pdf

VMware Tools will only correct the clock if the guest clock is too slow. It does this every 60 seconds by default.

The descheduled time service is not available on VMware Server.

Heino,
The 1227 article is about Windows hosts, and is probably the source of info of the settings RenovoIT showed us at the top.

Lars
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by:bleeuwen
ID: 21810636
Hi Larstr,

The descheduled time is available on ESX, i thought this service was added to the vmware tools after an ESX patch. This patch did not resolved the issue off a faster clock for us (we raised a SR with VMware which gave them information of our tools and this time problem).
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Expert Comment

by:larstr
ID: 21810697
bleeuwen,
The descheduled time service is available on ESX, but is not activated by default. When you install VMware Tools you can do an advanced install and select to include the Descheduled time service.

Lars
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by:bleeuwen
ID: 21811376
Hi larstr,

I got that, i meant that this option did not work for our configuration (and we tried a lot with vmware support). So we switched back to windows time server which does not give a problem on those machines.
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Author Comment

by:RenovoIT
ID: 21813074
The guest OSes are all Windows 2003 R2 Standard, although we get the same issue with Linux guests as well.  The Host is Windows 2003 R2 DataCentre Edition.

I've had a read through the knowledge base and as much of the white paper I can understand.  The best I can say is I've already put the following entries into config.ini

host.cpukHz = "2800000"
host.noTSC = "TRUE"
ptsc.noTSC = "TRUE"

I did have VMware Time Sync and W32Time running on all hosts.  I've turned off VMware Tools Time Sync as it can only speed up the clock.  We really need the clock to slow down significantly.

Descheduled Time Service does not appear to be an option for VMware Server edition.

The host machine is a HP Opteron DL365 with two dual core Opteron 2220 processors.  I understand these processors have issues with time sync between cores.  We have the /usepmtimer option enabled in c:\boot.ini.  I also understand that these processors are PowerNow capable.  The BIOS does not appear to have any options to control CPU speed.  iLO is configured to give the OS full control over the processor speed.  I don't see any options in the OS to control processor speed.  The default processor drivers appear to be Microsoft.  AMD appear to offer a drive that enables power management with the processor.  After installing on a test box, it does not appear to give any obvious options to set CPU frequency to max static.  Therefore I assume that installing the AMD driver enables PowerNow as oppose to providing control over PowerNow.

At present some of the guest clocks are running 4 times fast (1 minute per 15 seconds).
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Author Comment

by:RenovoIT
ID: 21854906
It would seem that adding the settings:

host.cpukHz = "2800000"
host.noTSC = "TRUE"
ptsc.noTSC = "TRUE"

Has only made the issue worse.  Some of the guests clocks can be running too fast within an hour.  Previously we could get a week or two of time running OK.
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Accepted Solution

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RenovoIT earned 0 total points
ID: 22202892
There is an issue with time sync between cores/processors for some Opteron processors.  Much to our frustration we have this on all our HP Proliant DL365 boxes.  An easy way to determine if your processor has the issue is to "ping" another host on the network.  If you get back negative ping times the processor is affected.  To fix the time issue for ping and some other apps just add "/usepmtimer" to the end of the appropriate entries in c:\boot.ini.  This doesn't appear to resolve the time issue for all application (including VMware & MS SQL 2005 by the looks of things).

The first fix is to try and turn off any energy saving features for the processor.  But I cannot find an explicit setting that turns this off on these servers.

The following KB article seems to have resolved the guest clocks running too fast on this system: http://kb.vmware.com/kb/2039

(i.e. add processors.NUMAnode = "<NUMA ID e.g. 0, 1, 2 etc>" to each guest .vmx file)

Essentially restrict each VMware image to its own processor, therefore it doesn't have an issue with the time sync.  But it looks like you can only restrict to a NUMA and not a core.  It appears that there is only one NUMA for each physical processor.  These processors can also have time sync issues between cores.  So far the fix appears to be working for all images that are restricted to a NUMA.  Images that are not restricted to a NUMA continue to run too fast.
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