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Virtual Machine Video Memory allocation

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Last Modified: 2015-04-24
Hi Experts

Recently we have purchased I7 Processor (4790) with ASUS z97-Pro board with 32 GB of physical memory

The CPU ships with built-in Intel HD 4600 GPU which can be set to 512 MB dedicated memory and overall 1.8 GB of shared memory
In Reality Intel 4600 HD graphics do not have any dedicated memory and even initial 512 MB also it has taken from system RAM but showing as dedicated memory
I am going to install Hyper-V of Win 8.1 / 2012 R2 OR VMware Workstation on this machine
We are planning to use this machine as standard lab machine without any fancy requirements like Remote FX etc.

The machine will be used to run plain guest VMs such as windows servers (2003 / 2008 /2012) and clients (win 7 and 8) for lab purpose

Question:
Do I need Dedicated graphic card to operate this lab machine in virtualized environment?
If I added dedicated graphic card, does VM video memory will be assigned by that graphics card?
How Video Memory (vRAM) is assigned to standard virtual machines? from Intel HD Graphics or from standard system memory?
Any implications if I run this lab machine with Intel HD graphics that shipped with processor?

Thanks
Mahesh
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You do not need an additional video card for virtualization.  The machine already has a video card for direct access from the machine.  With virtualization, the video will be emulated.
Philip ElderTechnical Architect - HA/Compute/Storage
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Andrew Hancock (VMware vExpert PRO / EE Fellow)VMware and Virtualization Consultant
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Commented:
Do I need Dedicated graphic card to operate this lab machine in virtualized environment?

No.

If I added dedicated graphic card, does VM video memory will be assigned by that graphics card?

not applicable.

How Video Memory (vRAM) is assigned to standard virtual machines? from Intel HD Graphics or from standard system memory?
Any implications if I run this lab machine with Intel HD graphics that shipped with processor?

not applicable
MaheshArchitect
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Commented:
Thanks guys for quick reply.

@Philip:
I am planning to install 2 x 500 GB Western Digital 3.5 internal SATA HDD with 10K RPM (Velociraptor) to get little better performance
I have gone through article, however it did not mention about video memory for VM

@Andrew:
Sorry but I don't understand why these questions are "N/A"?

I believe VM (no matter from which hypervisor) does require some amount of video RAM for display initialization / emulation. In that case if VM takes its video memory from physical host memory only or it will pull it from discrete graphics card if one is installed?
Is there is any way out to check if VM video memory is pulled from discrete graphics card OR from host RAM?
Am I getting any benefit wrt standard lab virtualization if I replace Intel Processor graphics with dedicated graphic card?
 
Please correct me if there is any misconception.

Thanks
Mahesh
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Philip ElderTechnical Architect - HA/Compute/Storage
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Commented:
RemoteFX is the facility in Hyper-V to utilize a discrete graphics setup for in-VM graphics. It requires a certified for RemoteFX graphics card to be supported by Microsoft.

VM graphics is much like on board server graphics for direct comparison purposes. Server boards may have 16MB or 32MB of memory to support the on board graphics and that's it.
MaheshArchitect
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Commented:
Ok Thanks Guys for great answers

This reason of starting this thread is because I have came across article which states:

We're pleased to announce an update to Intel Graphics Virtualization Technology (Intel GVT-g, formerly known as XenGT). Intel GVT-g is a complete vGPU solution with mediated pass-through, supported today on 4th generation Intel Core(TM) processors with Intel Graphics processors. A virtual GPU instance is maintained for each VM, with part of performance critical resources directly assigned. The capability of running native graphics driver inside a VM, without hypervisor intervention in performance critical paths, achieves a good balance among performance, feature, and sharing capability. Though we only support Xen on Intel Processor Graphics so far, the core logic can be easily ported to other hypervisors
.
The original article:
https://01.org/xen/blogs/wangbo85/2014/intel-gvt-gxengt-pubic-release

Detailed information:
https://01.org/blogs/skjain/2014/intel%C2%AE-graphics-virtualization-update
https://software.intel.com/en-us/blogs/2014/05/02/intel-graphics-virtualization-update

One Last Question Please:
The above article applies to XEN, however I was just thinking that I have Intel CPU with built-in graphics and can I use its capabilities within windows / VMware apart from RemoteFX?
OR
Same capabilities can be built by using dedicated graphic card ?

Thanks
Mahesh
Andrew Hancock (VMware vExpert PRO / EE Fellow)VMware and Virtualization Consultant
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MaheshArchitect
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Commented:
Lab VMs will mainly be used for testing various Microsoft Infrastructure server applications such as Lync, Exchange, SharePoint and so on to test complex cross forest \ domain migration scenarios

As far as I understand from your answers:
I understood that these applications do not require any special vGPU.
It seems that only server class graphics cards have GVT (Graphics Virtualization Technology), this includes Intel IRS Pro Graphics Processor (Xeon) and NVIDIA GRID. Mine was i7 graphics processor but desktop class and hence it do not have these functionalities.
If I add standard GeForce / ATI graphic card to this machine, it will only free system memory currently shared / used by graphics and hopefully release load on processor for graphics related operations in entire system.

Does above understanding is correct?

Thanks
Mahesh
Andrew Hancock (VMware vExpert PRO / EE Fellow)VMware and Virtualization Consultant
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Commented:
Lab VMs will mainly be used for testing various Microsoft Infrastructure server applications such as Lync, Exchange, SharePoint and so on to test complex cross forest \ domain migration scenarios

So does not sound like any requirement here for assisted graphics from hardware support required.

I understood that these applications do not require any special vGPU.

Correct, there is specific support for the most basic 3D function to occur in software, supported buy the virtual drivers in the VM.

Pro Graphics Processor (Xeon) and NVIDIA GRID. Mine was i7 graphics processor but desktop class and hence it do not have these functionalities.
If I add standard GeForce / ATI graphic card to this machine, it will only free system memory currently shared / used by graphics and hopefully release load on processor for graphics related operations in entire system.

Correct. We use Intel GPU's in our lab machines, for software development, and there is no issue with the graphics card, or processor load, or shared memory between OS and GPU.

When the developers need to have real hardware for render functions, and CUDA work,. we have lab machines which have nVidia GPU resources, e.g. GTX 770.
MaheshArchitect
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Commented:
Great answers. Very straight forward and perfect.

Much appreciated.

I have decided to run this lab system on Intel GPU without any dedicated graphics card,

Many many Thanks
Mahesh.
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