Parallels gives 3-D graphics a boost within virtualization

Parallels Workstation Extreme offers individual graphics cards to multiple virtual machines

Parallels has announced the release of Parallels Workstation Extreme, bringing the benefits of virtualization to high-resource consuming applications used by industries such as finance, government, science, engineering, manufacturing, and oil and gas.

The company said this is the first high-end workstation virtualization product on the market that offers near-native performance to applications that require large memory support, multiple CPU cores, and direct access to graphics cards.

[ Parallels also updated its Mac desktop virtualization software to improve DirectX support | Find out how Parallels stood up to VMware Fusion in the InfoWorld Test Center's review ]

James Raquepau, OEM Alliances Director for Parallels, described Parallels Workstation Extreme to me as a hypervisor-based solution that leverages Intel VT-x and VT-d. Raquepau said it is the first workstation-class product to offer support for up to 12 vCPUs and 64GB of RAM and, more importantly, direct assignment of graphic and network cards.


Developed in partnership with Intel, Nvidia, and HP, the product brings together the latest breakthrough technologies needed to deliver the benefits of workstation virtualization without sacrificing performance of critical applications. A single powerful computer can do the work of several workstations at once.

"Parallels Workstation Extreme is revolutionary for the users of resource-intensive applications, such as those used for oil and gas exploration," said Serguei Beloussov, CEO of Parallels.

"Until now, it has been impossible for them to enjoy the benefits of virtualization, as the impact on graphics performance has been significant. Parallels Workstation Extreme addresses this, offering users powerful support for 3-D professional graphics cards via Intel VT-d and the new NVIDIA SLI Multi-OS technology, delivering near-native performance. The solution also offers up to 16 CPU cores and 64GB of RAM for guest OSes, creating a superior customer experience compared to today's normal computing speed in a virtual machine. In essence, the combination of technologies from Parallels, Intel, Nvidia, and HP, means enterprises will be able to dedicate system resources as needed, allowing greater productivity across multiple operating systems and workloads."

Rather than taking the typical path of emulating the graphics adapter in a virtual machine, Parallels Workstation Extreme employs what it calls the Parallels FastLane architecture, which takes full advantage of the intelligent performance features in the new Intel Xeon processor 5500 series and the Intel X58 Express Chipset.

When added with Nvidia SLI Multi-OS technology, near-native performance of resource-intensive and graphics-intensive applications finally become possible for virtual machines.

Raquepau said the direct assignment of graphic cards is currently limited to the Nvidia Quadro FX 3800 / 4800 / 5800, and that no other graphic cards/chipsets are supported today. However, this is the "pass through video" that everyone has been waiting for –- for more than five years!

For more information and video demonstrations of Parallels Workstation Extreme, check out Parallels' Web site.

Copyright © 2009 IDG Communications, Inc.