Virtualization on macOS: Parallels vs VMware Benchmarks

Currently there are two main commercial players in the virtualization market on macOS providing type-2 hypervisors, Parallels and VMware. These products allow one to run additional operating system instances on top of their current OS, providing the host system has the necessary resources available. For example, a user with a MacBook may want to run apps that are only available on Windows, alongside their Mac apps. Running an instance of Windows 10 in a virtual machine on top of Parallels Desktop or VMware Fusion allows them to do that.

Type-2 hypervisors, like Parallels and Fusion on Mac, VMware Workstation on Windows, or VirtualBox on both platforms, are those that run on top of a base desktop or server operating system such as Windows or macOS. Type-1 hypervisors run on bare-metal, without a thick operating system in between, and include Microsoft’s Hyper-V and VMware’s ESXi. In general, type-1 hypervisors provide better performance, but have much more specific hardware requirements. Generally, type-2 hypervisors will also provide extra integration features, such as sharing host folders with guest VMs, or displaying an app running in the guest VM right on the host desktop, as if it was running right on the host OS. Rather than a feature comparison though, this test will focus on performance of the guest virtual machines.

For this test, I used an iMac from Late-2013 (see specs below) running macOS Mojave (10.14.2) to test out which of the type-2 hypervisors provided better performance. First, I installed VMWare Fusion 11, created virtual machines running Windows 10 version 1809, and ran a series of benchmarks to test virtual machine performance. After the tests on Fusion were completed, the VMs were destroyed and Fusion completely removed from the system. Next Parallels Desktop version 14 was installed, VMs created to identical specs, and the same benchmarks run in the same order.

iMac 27″ (Late-2013) Host Specs
CPU Intel Core i7-4771; 4-core/8-thread; 3.5GHz / 3.9GHz turbo; 8MB L3 cache; 84W TDP
RAM 24GB DDR3-1333
Storage 500GB SATA SSD
GPU Nvidia GTX 775M 2GB GDDR5 – 1344 CUDA cores; 256-bit memory bus; Kepler architecture

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Snapdragon 850 for Windows 10 ARM PCs introduced by Qualcomm

On Monday, Qualcomm introduced a new version of their mobile platform for Windows on ARM PCs, the Snapdragon 850. This replaces the Snapdragon 835 Mobile PC platform used in the initial set of always connected Windows ARM devices. The 850 includes a number of enhancements, with Gigabit LTE download speeds via their X20 modem being featured. In terms of battery life, Qualcomm is claiming 25 hours of video playback or multi-day life under normal usage scenarios. We’ll have to wait for devices to be released to see if those claims hold up under real-life usage.

The Snapdragon 850 Mobile PC platform essentially seems to be a modified version of the Snapdragon 845, as the architecture and many of the features carry over from the platform used in mobile phones. The 8 Kryo 385 CPU cores are similar, though they get a slight speed bump from 2.8GHz to 2.96GHz. It’s worth noting that Anandtech compared the SD845 (with Kryo 385 cores) against the SD835 (Kryo 285 cores) and measured a performance improvement of 20-40% in integer tests using Geekbench 4, and a more significant 40-60% increase floating point scores.  The SD850 will have an additional benefit of a 6% clock speed increase. This means that Windows ARM PCs based on the SD850 should see a pretty significant performance improvement over the first-generation devices. The likely release of a new iPad Pro in late 2018 should make for interesting performance comparisons. Continue reading “Snapdragon 850 for Windows 10 ARM PCs introduced by Qualcomm”

Thoughts on a 2018 Surface 4

On May 16, Bloomberg reported that Microsoft would be releasing a new non-Pro Surface tablet device in late 2018. In summary, Bloomberg sources indicate it will have a 10” screen, use an Intel CPU/GPU, run Windows 10 Pro, last 9 hours on a charge, have 64GB and 128GB versions, USB-C port(s), LTE enabled models, and will not come with a keyboard or stylus. It will be priced around $400. It sounds like an updated version of the Surface 3, for better or worse. This is interesting for a number of reasons, not least of which are the tougher competition found in the $329 iPad and the recently released Windows devices running on ARM-based hardware.

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