As new technology is released, I like to play with it.  This is especially true given that I write on a wide variety of topics.  Back inthe days of old, when I was tasked to write an article that required a complex lab setup, I had to drag out physical machines, install whatever I was testing onto each machine and do my best to get good screen shots.  Today, of course, virtualization makes this process a thing of the past.  In fact, when I was working on my sections of the Exchange Server 2007 Administrators Companion, I had four or five virtual machines all running the entire time.  To do what was required for that book would have been an incredible waste of time if I had to reload physical machines constantly.

Alas, I’ve run into a situation for which I have yet to find a solution… testing Hyper-V.  Now, it may sound lame when I say that I want to test virtualization software inside a virtual machine.  However, it’s a whole lot easier to manage and it’s a lot easier to get good screenshots running inside a VM.  However, when it comes to testing Hyper-V, it all goes out the window (no pun intended).  Installing the x64 edition of Windows Server 2008 that includes the Hyper-V role goes fine, but when I try to add the actual Hyper-V role, Windows indicates that a machine with a VT-enabled (and AMD-V enabled) processor is required.  VT (Intel) and AMD-V are extensions to the x86 processor family that allow a hypervisor to run and unmodified guest operating system without having to emulate a virtual processor, thereby theoretically improving overall guest performance.  VT requires more than just processor support, though.  The chipset and the BIOS must also be prepared to support this feature.

Although my host machine sports two new dual core Xeon 2.66 GHz processors, both which support VT, the VT features are not present (or enabled) in guest VM hardware or in the guest BIOS.  I’ve tried the following combinations:

  • Vista x64 host
    • VMware Workstation 6.0 – no VT in the guest hardware
    • VMware Server 2.0 beta – no VT in the guest hardware
    • Microsoft Virtual Server 2005 R2 SP1 – no VT in the guest hardware
    • Virtual Box – does not support 64-bit guests

I would never claim to have significant expertise when it comes to processor design and hypervisor creation.  So, I have a question… what would it take for a host processor’s VT capability to be passed through to a running virtual machine?  Obviously, this would be useful mostly in test environments, but could be useful.

For now, it’s time to break out a spare box!