VMware product info

July 6, 2007

I finally think I understand the performance difference between the various VMware products. Obviously they stratify their feature set so they can charge more. From slowest to fastest:

  • VMware Server allows VMs to run headless and you can connect remotely. This means the graphics are always running “remotely”, like VNC or Remote Desktop, which is quite slow.
  • VMware Player is like server but the graphics are run directly, so it’s faster. The CPU performance is the same, AFAIK.
  • VMware Workstation installs specialized drivers in the host OS that improves access to networking and hard drives. Overall performance is better, but I don’t know if CPU perfs are better.
  • VMware ESX Server is a hypervisor, which allows VMs to run very fast. The specialized Linux host OS doesn’t get in the way too much.

Installing VMware tools into the guest OS turns this into paravirtualization, e.g. the guest OS is modified to run better within the VM bubble. I wish someone would post the relative performance difference between these different implementations. I’ll run Passmark’s performance test in player and server and post them sometime.


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