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Using Win32 GIS apps with VMware Fusion or Parallels?

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I'm trying to understand the performance hit that happens when using a virtualization app like VMware Fusion or Parallels vs. using Bootcamp, which provides the maximum utilization possible of the hardware.

Windows GIS apps like Arc or GlobalMapper tend to use every CPU cycle they can get, so I'd think they should be hosted in the highest efficiency environment you can provide.

One measure of efficiency is the ability to use multiple CPUs or cores. VMware Fusion allows that, but would your garden variety GIS apps even use that (i.e. are they multi-threaded?)


Sky Schemer

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The only way to really know the impact of a virtual machine is to benchmark the application. At the day job, we use virtualization in some applications and the impact ranges from a few percent to quite-a-lot depending on what the host OS is using in terms of resources. Obviously, if you are VM on a single-core system and the host OS is working away in the background, performance in the VM is going to stink.

If the host OS is idle, impact can be pretty slight depending on the application. Operations that tax the physical components like the display, external devices, etc., increase your performance penalty (and increase stability risks). Pure processing tends to be just fine as long as you have enough resources dedicated to the guest OS (ie, memory, disk space, etc.)

Multi-core/multi-processor helps tremendously, since your guest OS will not be fighting (as much) for CPU time with the host. Lots of memory helps, too, obviously Putting the guest OS on it's own (physical) disk will also buy you considerable performance, particularly if the host OS is writing to disk a lot.

Obviously, it's a complicated topic and answering the question of "what's the performance impact?" is not so easy.

As for GIS apps and parallel support...not too many have it. Manifold System will use multiple cores (and NVIDIA CUDA technology for some operations, as of release 8.0). I can't speak for other products since I don't know. :)

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