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Update: Support for guest OS paravirtualization using VMware VMI to be retired from new products in 2010-2011

VMware has begun the phased retirement of support for guest OS kernel-based paravirtualization using VMware’s Virtual Machine Interface (VMI) technology. We have decided to retire support for VMI in 2010-2011 as a result of innovations in CPU hardware acceleration technologies from Intel and AMD which have surpassed the performance improvements provided by VMI. As these CPU innovations are expected to become ubiquitous in the next 2-3 years, VMware has begun a phased retirement of the VMI functionality. This announcement is not applicable to device-based paravirtualization technologies provided by VMware which will continue to provide significant customer benefits for years to come.

This change only affects virtual machines running Linux-based operating systems which have VMI enabled. VMware will continue to support VMI on existing supported releases until such time as these releases reach end of life. See http://www.vmware.com/support/policies/index.html for the VMware product support lifecycle policy. Starting in 2010, new VMware products will cease to provide VMI support. VMI will be phased out of Workstation first; beginning in 2010; followed by vSphere in 2011.

Knowledge base article 1013842 "Migrating VMI-enabled virtual machines to platforms that do not support VMI" has been posted to our support site. This KB article describes how to turn off VMI on effected virtual machines when needed.

3 thoughts on “Update: Support for guest OS paravirtualization using VMware VMI to be retired from new products in 2010-2011

  1. nate

    What will people like me do who run NTP servers in VMs so the hosts and other systems can sync up? I currently run about a dozen VMI systems on various networks that do nothing but run NTP services. In my testing running a fully virtualized OS cannot sync up via NTP, at least linux can’t/won’t.
    I need something to sync my VM hosts, switches, routers, load balancers etc to. Right now it’s redundant 64MB VMs running a VMI kernel and NTP behind load balancers. I don’t want to have to provision physical boxes to run NTP services for those systems(seems like a waste), and don’t want(and can’t in many cases) them to sync directly to the internet. Even on the latest Xeon 5500 CPUs on vSphere I could not get NTP to sync up without enabling VMI.
    I don’t need VMI for the performance, just need it for NTP!

  2. Luke Congdon

    For best timekeeping results in a VM, we recommend using a Linux distribution based on a kernel which supports tickless timekeeping. This was introduced in Linux starting with kernel 2.6.22. These kernels offer timekeeping performance comparable to VMI-enabled VMs. Though we haven’t specifically tested the NTP server case, we don’t see a reason why these new kernels won’t work as well as VMI from timekeeping point of view.
    Below is a list of configurations for popular Linux distributions which we expect to have the best timekeeping behavior in VMs:
    * Red Hat Enterprise Linux 5.4 on ESX 3.5 or later
    * SUSE Linux Enterprise Server 10 SP2 on ESX 3.5 or later
    * SUSE Linux Enterprise Server 11 on ESX 4.0 or later
    * Ubuntu 8.04 “Hardy Heron” on ESX 3.5 or later
    * Ubuntu 8.10 “Intrepid Ibex” on ESX 3.5, ESX 4.0 or later
    * Ubuntu 9.04 “Jaunty Jackalope” on ESX 3.5, ESX 4.0 or later
    You can refer to the following knowledge base article for additional recommended configurations. http://kb.vmware.com/kb/1006427 “Timekeeping best practices for Linux”
    Please let us know if you see any problems.

  3. BC

    I am running a Fedora 12 VM that has been optimized to run extremely processor-intensive numerical models. There are a few other windows VM’s on the box, which is running on a quad core Xeon. I recently enalbed VMI, which improved my model runs by 2 hours. Why would this feature not be at least saved as a “check-box” option?

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