The Cost of Virtualization Pt 2

I wasn’t happy about the testing setup that I used before: I compared VirtualBox performance of Blender in Windows 8 against a normal install of Windows 7. I did this because I doubt that rendering performance is any different between Windows 7 and Windows 8, so which version of Windows I used should have been a non-issue anyway.

But, I figured that if I was going to be investigating this properly, it was time to do things better: take the OS out of the equation entirely.

So I have Ubuntu Desktop 15.04 installed as a normal boot and within that, another install of Ubuntu Desktop 15.04 (both Xfce). I upgraded VirtualBox to 5.0.4 and installed the Guest Additions as normal. I used Blender 2.75a (the most recent version as of now).

My test system is a 6-core AMD FX-6300 @4GHz, 8GB DDR3-1333, GTX 750Ti (more info here). The host OS is ran off a 30GB Corsair SSD and the virtual machine is running off three 500GB Seagate Barracuda drives in RAID-5:


The guest OS has access to all six CPU cores and 4GB of RAM, which is plenty for this Blender benchmark.

Firstly, I ran Blender on the host machine:

  • CPU only: 6 mins 13s
  • GPU CUDA: 3 mins 23s

Right, now onto the virtual machine! Here’s how we did:

  • CPU only: 7 mins 54s

Unfortunately VirtualBox does not support hardware GPU passthrough (yet), but if it does come out, I will be sure to test it!

So the results show in this very basic test that the additional time taken whilst virtualized was an extra 27%, which is much better than the results with the Windows-based Blender tests, where the time taken was about double. It also seems that, from my testing, running Blender virtualized under Ubuntu is faster than running Blender on a normal Windows 7 machine. Interesting…

Stay tuned for more tests!

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