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You are here: MacNN Forums > Software - Troubleshooting and Discussion > Alternative Operating Systems > Parallels 7 vs. Fusion 3 and Fusion 4

Parallels 7 vs. Fusion 3 and Fusion 4
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cgc
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Sep 2, 2011, 03:12 PM
 
EDIT (15 Sep 2011): Updated the graph with Fusion 4.01. You'll see a nice performance increase.

I've been a long-time user of VMWare Fusion and have been wanting to upgrade to either Fusion 4 or Parallels 7. Parallels 7 was released yesterday so I downloaded a trial copy and benchmarked it against Fusion. I used one CPU and 2048MB per system, installed fresh Windows 7 32-bit Ultimate on each, and ran Geekbench, Binebench, 3Dmark05, WEI, Peacekeeper, V8, Sunspider, and the Mozilla Labs HW Accelerations Stress Test. I then normalized the results so that a score of 100 was the top score on all tests except the timed "suspend VM" and "resume VM" where 100 is the slowest and a score of less is better.

The bottom line is Parallels 7 kicked Fusion 3's butt on graphics, save and resume VM state. The other tests were close. I'll be waiting for Fusion 4 which is in beta testing but they have even more ground to make up...good thing Fusion is so reliable/bug-free or it wouldn't be so prevalent.
( Last edited by cgc; Sep 15, 2011 at 07:54 PM. )
     
turtle777
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Sep 2, 2011, 03:20 PM
 
Heck, Parallels 6 already beat the crap out of Fusion 3.

I'm disappointed in Fusion. They have been slacking for years.
I started out using Fusion, but then switched to Parallels and haven't locked back.

-t
     
cgc  (op)
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Sep 2, 2011, 07:44 PM
 
Originally Posted by turtle777 View Post
Heck, Parallels 6 already beat the crap out of Fusion 3.

I'm disappointed in Fusion. They have been slacking for years.
I started out using Fusion, but then switched to Parallels and haven't locked back.

-t
Yeah, that's how I feel about Fusion also. I saw Parallels 6 come out and crush Fusion 3 and was/am hoping Fusion comes back with something better but I bet Fusion will retaliate with something good but not great then languish another 12 months while Parallels improves even more and increases its lead. I'll probably buy Parallels 7 but haven't found a link to switch from Fusion for $49...I've heard this will be an option though.
     
cgc  (op)
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Sep 2, 2011, 07:59 PM
 
First problem with Parallels 7: sound is way out of sync with when it should occur. The first thing I installed was the free 123FreeSolitaire from TreeCardGames. I'll move a card, move another, then move a third before I hear the sound from the first card I moved. Great graphics (5x faster than Fusion in 3DMark05) but the audio is lackluster to say the least...plus it logged me off for no reason. Kooky.
     
ibook_steve
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Sep 2, 2011, 08:15 PM
 
Originally Posted by cgc View Post
First problem with Parallels 7: sound is way out of sync with when it should occur. The first thing I installed was the free 123FreeSolitaire from TreeCardGames. I'll move a card, move another, then move a third before I hear the sound from the first card I moved. Great graphics (5x faster than Fusion in 3DMark05) but the audio is lackluster to say the least...plus it logged me off for no reason. Kooky.
Stupid question: I'm assuming you installed Parallels tools in your VM when you moved to 7. I've never seen (heard?) anything like that with PD6.

Steve
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cgc  (op)
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Sep 3, 2011, 07:59 AM
 
Originally Posted by ibook_steve View Post
Stupid question: I'm assuming you installed Parallels tools in your VM when you moved to 7. I've never seen (heard?) anything like that with PD6.

Steve
Yup...installed Windows, Parallel Tools (or VMWare Tools), and the benchmarking programs...that's it. That audio sync issue was really annoying and I wanted to like Parallels but it was too glaring a problem.
     
Exzone
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Sep 4, 2011, 07:41 AM
 
Originally Posted by cgc View Post
Yeah, that's how I feel about Fusion also. I saw Parallels 6 come out and crush Fusion 3 and was/am hoping Fusion comes back with something better but I bet Fusion will retaliate with something good but not great then languish another 12 months while Parallels improves even more and increases its lead. I'll probably buy Parallels 7 but haven't found a link to switch from Fusion for $49...I've heard this will be an option though.
Audience: Compete
btw: only $29.99
I bought a copy (in the German Store) on Thursday and yesterday I received an e-mail that I have qualified for free upgrading to PD 7
     
ibook_steve
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Sep 5, 2011, 01:39 PM
 
Originally Posted by cgc View Post
Yup...installed Windows, Parallel Tools (or VMWare Tools), and the benchmarking programs...that's it. That audio sync issue was really annoying and I wanted to like Parallels but it was too glaring a problem.
What do you mean "or VMWare Tools"? Do you have both installed? Have you uninstalled VMWare tools?

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Mrjinglesusa
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Sep 5, 2011, 02:44 PM
 
Liking Parallels 7 so far. Got my Windows XP and Ubuntu 11.04 virtual machines up and running perfectly on both a late-2010 MBA and a 27" iMac i7.

So far, definitely feels faster than Fusion 3 I had been using previously.
2.3GHz i7 15" Retina Macbook Pro (Late 2013)
     
cgc  (op)
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Sep 5, 2011, 02:50 PM
 
Originally Posted by ibook_steve View Post
What do you mean "or VMWare Tools"? Do you have both installed? Have you uninstalled VMWare tools?

Steve
Since I installed Windows onto both Parallels and VMWare Fusion I installed their respective tools which is what I was referring to and I didn't install both and migrate the VM...100% separate (but equal, no Animal Farm references please) installs. Contrary to popular belief, I know what I'm doing (usually).
     
besson3c
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Sep 9, 2011, 02:57 AM
 
How does Parallels and Fusion benchmark against Virtualbox? Just wondering if any of you have tested this or come across somebody who has?

I'm most impressed with Linux's KVM/libvirt these days, but that's neither here nor there since this isn't available in OS X. Does Parallels or Fusion handle para-virtualization like KVM or Xen?
     
cgc  (op)
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Sep 9, 2011, 11:52 AM
 
I didn't benchmark VirtualBox but have seen several other benchmarks where VirtualBox 4 is nearly as fast as VMWare Fusion 3.
     
turtle777
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Sep 9, 2011, 12:23 PM
 
Yeah, but Fusion3 is way behind the power curve.

-t
     
besson3c
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Sep 9, 2011, 04:41 PM
 
Maybe you guys can help me satisfy my curiosity over whether Parallels or Fusion does para-virt... What disk and network interface options are there to go along with the usual IDE/SATA/SCSI for disks and e1000 for network?
     
turtle777
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Sep 9, 2011, 05:37 PM
 
Sorry, but I don't even know what you're talking about

I'm running the VM for Quicken. I don't think that what you asked for is ever a concern for me.

-t
     
besson3c
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Sep 9, 2011, 06:08 PM
 
Originally Posted by turtle777 View Post
Sorry, but I don't even know what you're talking about

I'm running the VM for Quicken. I don't think that what you asked for is ever a concern for me.

-t

Para-virtualization provides performance boosts by allowing the VM guest to interact with the host hardware directly rather than using an emulated driver such as the Intel e1000 NIC or emulated SATA/SCSI controllers.

I wouldn't think that Quicken does a lot of crazy disk I/O intensive stuff or a lot of network stuff, but if it did you might notice a bit of a boost using the para-virt interfaces - even more so if you were running several VMs that had to compete for resources.
     
cgc  (op)
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Sep 9, 2011, 07:10 PM
 
I've run Fedora and Windows and my HDD-intensive applications (GIS software) grinds away at an annoyingly slow pace, not sure if this is a clue. This is in VMWare Fusion 3 on my MacPro w/ 7GB memory and 2GB allocated to each VM.
( Last edited by cgc; Sep 9, 2011 at 07:17 PM. )
     
besson3c
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Sep 9, 2011, 07:40 PM
 
I forgot to add that in order to support para-virt the guest OS needs a driver or kernel modification for this purpose. These are included with Linux OSes such as Debian or CentOS/RHEL, but need to be installed separately in Windows. If you are running Windows and haven't installed the guest additions or any drivers, you aren't doing para-virt. If the guest additions make no mention to providing a network or block driver, likewise.
     
jcadam
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Sep 9, 2011, 09:24 PM
 
I'm currently running Fusion 3 for one reason only - to test websites in Internet Explorer

I did have a crazy thought to set up a test linux web server in Fusion, but after many hours of frustration, I went to the back of my closet and un-retired an old PM G4 (much to my surprise, it still worked after YEARS in my mothball mac fleet, along with the G3 Smurftower, G3 beige, and iBook G3) and installed Debian PPC on it. Works MUCH better than Linux in a VM for my purposes.
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besson3c
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Sep 9, 2011, 09:52 PM
 
Originally Posted by jcadam View Post
I'm currently running Fusion 3 for one reason only - to test websites in Internet Explorer

I did have a crazy thought to set up a test linux web server in Fusion, but after many hours of frustration, I went to the back of my closet and un-retired an old PM G4 (much to my surprise, it still worked after YEARS in my mothball mac fleet, along with the G3 Smurftower, G3 beige, and iBook G3) and installed Debian PPC on it. Works MUCH better than Linux in a VM for my purposes.

Was your VM guest doing bridged networking or NAT? If bridged, the whole setup should have been pretty much identical to your Debian PPC machine, no?
     
jcadam
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Sep 9, 2011, 10:05 PM
 
Originally Posted by besson3c View Post
Was your VM guest doing bridged networking or NAT? If bridged, the whole setup should have been pretty much identical to your Debian PPC machine, no?
Bridged. My main problem is I like to run many applications at once each with multiple windows (at a minimum - netbeans, every web browser imaginable, inkspace, gimp, iTunes, mail, multiple terminals and mvim instances. Sometimes XCode, excel, word, and blender also). Throw a couple of VMs on top of all that and my machine starts to crawl. I know I need more RAM in my iMac (currently 4GB)

A separate physical test server seemed the 'cleanest' solution. For a time, I was running MAMP but it just isn't the same as a real server.

The PM G4 doubles as a nice footrest also.
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besson3c
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Sep 9, 2011, 10:15 PM
 
Originally Posted by jcadam View Post
Bridged. My main problem is I like to run many applications at once each with multiple windows (at a minimum - netbeans, every web browser imaginable, inkspace, gimp, iTunes, mail, multiple terminals and mvim instances. Sometimes XCode, excel, word, and blender also). Throw a couple of VMs on top of all that and my machine starts to crawl. I know I need more RAM in my iMac (currently 4GB)

A separate physical test server seemed the 'cleanest' solution. For a time, I was running MAMP but it just isn't the same as a real server.

The PM G4 doubles as a nice footrest also.

You'll definitely get better performance using dedicated hardware, I do the same thing sometimes - I also have maxxed out at 4GB of RAM. X11 forwarding makes running GUI stuff in OS X really easy, I wish you could do the same with OS X!

I'm debating going back to MAMP built via Macports to use for local development work though, and publishing to my test server via a combination of Git and Rails migrations. I, like you, have never been a fan of MAMP, but Macports seems to have gotten better, and there is also Homebrew now.

Just babbling, I guess...
     
cgc  (op)
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Sep 15, 2011, 07:54 PM
 
I updated the first post to include Fusion 4. Here's the raw data for those interested.
     
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Sep 16, 2011, 03:11 AM
 
You did a stellar job. Much appreciated.
     
cryptochrome
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Sep 17, 2011, 06:09 AM
 
Looks to me like Fusion 4 is now on par with Parallels 7. Wow.
     
cgc  (op)
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Sep 17, 2011, 07:03 AM
 
Originally Posted by cryptochrome View Post
Looks to me like Fusion 4 is now on par with Parallels 7. Wow.
In most things yes...but Parallels crushed Fusion in 3DMark05. I wound up buying Fusion 4 because I prefer stability and don't play demanding games in a VM...
     
turtle777
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Sep 17, 2011, 01:20 PM
 
Good stuff, cgc.

I guess it's not worth switching from P7 to F4.

It's interesting that the start and suspend times are opposite.

I guess I prefer faster startup times, so P7 caters to that.

-t
     
Cold Warrior
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Sep 17, 2011, 01:30 PM
 
cgc,

Any objection to updating your thread title to reflect fusion 4?
     
cgc  (op)
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Sep 17, 2011, 03:28 PM
 
Please do, I didn't think to change it. Thanks.
     
Lailoken
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Sep 20, 2011, 09:52 AM
 
Originally Posted by besson3c View Post
You'll definitely get better performance using dedicated hardware, I do the same thing sometimes - I also have maxxed out at 4GB of RAM. X11 forwarding makes running GUI stuff in OS X really easy, I wish you could do the same with OS X!

I'm debating going back to MAMP built via Macports to use for local development work though, and publishing to my test server via a combination of Git and Rails migrations. I, like you, have never been a fan of MAMP, but Macports seems to have gotten better, and there is also Homebrew now.

Just babbling, I guess...
Agreed. I have a Quad-core i7 iMac (all features maxed) with 12 Gb of RAM, and when my Windows VM does its updates my machine comes to a crawl. I'm suspecting disk/io thrashing.
     
Lailoken
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Sep 20, 2011, 09:58 AM
 
Originally Posted by cgc View Post
First problem with Parallels 7: sound is way out of sync with when it should occur. The first thing I installed was the free 123FreeSolitaire from TreeCardGames. I'll move a card, move another, then move a third before I hear the sound from the first card I moved. Great graphics (5x faster than Fusion in 3DMark05) but the audio is lackluster to say the least...plus it logged me off for no reason. Kooky.
I've heard of Fusion 3 audio stuttering, but I've not had the problem on Parallels. I've played the entire BioShock 2 through on Parallels 7 all on Ultra detail with no stuttering or hitches. I've also played Mass Effect 1 and Mass Effect 2 (they had some graphics glitches) and am currently playing Fallout 3 : New Vegas also on Parallels 7 (it just crashed in VMWare 4) also with all settings on Ultra. Of course it is all still on DX9c, but oh well. I prefer having only one machine at my desk.

Anyway, it is usually individual games that have not been tested on sufficiently different hardware that exhibit problems on VMs.
     
King Bob On The Cob
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Sep 20, 2011, 06:28 PM
 
Originally Posted by besson3c View Post
I forgot to add that in order to support para-virt the guest OS needs a driver or kernel modification for this purpose. These are included with Linux OSes such as Debian or CentOS/RHEL, but need to be installed separately in Windows. If you are running Windows and haven't installed the guest additions or any drivers, you aren't doing para-virt. If the guest additions make no mention to providing a network or block driver, likewise.
Fusion 4 uses Paravirtual display drivers and mouse drivers on Windows. That's about it as far as I can tell. It emulates the standard VMWare LSI SAS drivers as a disk controller (It also supports LSI IDE), and the NAT is an emulated Intel 1000. This is done for compatibility sake.

I can't swear to it, but you can likely configure it to use the VMWare paravirtualized drivers if you really think you want to sacrifice CPU for disk speed/network speed. I doubt it's really important for any consumer grade application, though.
     
King Bob On The Cob
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Sep 20, 2011, 06:31 PM
 
The reason Parallels looks to be doing so well, is that early on they decided to do this:

Parallels - The Official Wine Wiki

As long as VMWare keeps having to do Direct3D in software, it's going to suffer.
     
besson3c
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Sep 20, 2011, 06:37 PM
 
Originally Posted by King Bob On The Cob View Post
Fusion 4 uses Paravirtual display drivers and mouse drivers on Windows. That's about it as far as I can tell.
Are you sure those are paravirt? What advantages would there be this way, and why would there also be Direct3D support if this was the case?

It emulates the standard VMWare LSI SAS drivers as a disk controller (It also supports LSI IDE), and the NAT is an emulated Intel 1000. This is done for compatibility sake.
Sounds pretty standard...

I can't swear to it, but you can likely configure it to use the VMWare paravirtualized drivers if you really think you want to sacrifice CPU for disk speed/network speed. I doubt it's really important for any consumer grade application, though.
Paravirt drivers for what? I'm not sure I follow.

Guest additions goodies are not necessarily paravirtualization drivers.
     
King Bob On The Cob
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Sep 21, 2011, 11:14 AM
 
Originally Posted by besson3c View Post
Are you sure those are paravirt? What advantages would there be this way, and why would there also be Direct3D support if this was the case?
Yep. It's definitely not emulating a real mouse or real display. Advantages for those two is that you can let OS X handle the mouse tracking (Instead of stealing the mouse like it does if you don't have the driver installed), and it can resize the resolution of the OS willy nilly when you drag a window around. I don't think there's any real hardware where you can dynamically resize the screen. Most display drivers wouldn't like that.

Direct3D is a separate issue. The Parallels driver does some code passthrough allowing the GPU to be the workhorse for a bit of the load. They do this by including WINE code in their program (Windows passes a render command to the driver, and the driver passes it into the Fusion hypervisor where WINE executes it).
Originally Posted by besson3c View Post
Paravirt drivers for what? I'm not sure I follow.
Guest additions goodies are not necessarily paravirtualization drivers.
VMWare makes paravirtual drivers for the disk controller (Paravirtual SCSI) and NAT (the VMXNET line of drivers).

Check out these articles for ideas on use cases:
VMware KB: Do I choose the PVSCSI or LSI Logic virtual adapter on ESX 4.0 for non-IO intensive workloads?
VMware KB: Choosing a network adapter for your virtual machine
     
besson3c
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Sep 21, 2011, 11:22 AM
 
Originally Posted by King Bob On The Cob View Post
Yep. It's definitely not emulating a real mouse or real display. Advantages for those two is that you can let OS X handle the mouse tracking (Instead of stealing the mouse like it does if you don't have the driver installed), and it can resize the resolution of the OS willy nilly when you drag a window around. I don't think there's any real hardware where you can dynamically resize the screen. Most display drivers wouldn't like that.
I just don't know if this qualifies as paravirtualization, as opposed to just providing an enhanced driver that interacts with the host. Paravirtualization, AFAIK, is when the guest is allowed to speak directly to the host hardware without speaking to a driver or interface presented to the guest by the host.

Direct3D is a separate issue. The Parallels driver does some code passthrough allowing the GPU to be the workhorse for a bit of the load. They do this by including WINE code in their program (Windows passes a render command to the driver, and the driver passes it into the Fusion hypervisor where WINE executes it).
Interesting, I didn't know that WINE was involved. I brought this up because if the display driver was truly paravirtualization, the whole Direct3D thing wouldn't be needed at all - your games would work with your local video card directly just like a game running locally in the host.

VMWare makes paravirtual drivers for the disk controller (Paravirtual SCSI) and NAT (the VMXNET line of drivers).

Check out these articles for ideas on use cases:
VMware KB: Do I choose the PVSCSI or LSI Logic virtual adapter on ESX 4.0 for non-IO intensive workloads?
VMware KB: Choosing a network adapter for your virtual machine[/QUOTE]

Yeah, these are paravirt drivers... I knew that they existed for ESX/ESXi, I just wasn't sure about Fusion.
     
King Bob On The Cob
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Sep 21, 2011, 11:46 AM
 
Originally Posted by besson3c View Post
I just don't know if this qualifies as paravirtualization, as opposed to just providing an enhanced driver that interacts with the host. Paravirtualization, AFAIK, is when the guest is allowed to speak directly to the host hardware without speaking to a driver or interface presented to the guest by the host.
Eh... Not quite. What you're talking about sounds like passthrough devices. Paravirtual is providing a software interface that more closely resembles the hardware that you're talking about, rather than emulating an entire system. I see the mouse driver as being certainly paravirtual, but it's just semantics.

Originally Posted by besson3c View Post
Interesting, I didn't know that WINE was involved. I brought this up because if the display driver was truly paravirtualization, the whole Direct3D thing wouldn't be needed at all - your games would work with your local video card directly just like a game running locally in the host.
As it stands right now, we can't do this. You can't give two OSes physical access to the video hardware or they'll stomp on each other's VRAM space, so now we're back to needing to make the call through the host OS, and the host OS's drivers may not support things the guest OS supports (Like Direct3D for instance).

Originally Posted by besson3c View Post
Yeah, these are paravirt drivers... I knew that they existed for ESX/ESXi, I just wasn't sure about Fusion.
I can't swear to it (Because I'm not a coder working on it), but it looks a lot like Fusion is running a very similar hypervisor to ESXi.
     
besson3c
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Sep 21, 2011, 12:08 PM
 
Originally Posted by King Bob On The Cob View Post
Eh... Not quite. What you're talking about sounds like passthrough devices. Paravirtual is providing a software interface that more closely resembles the hardware that you're talking about, rather than emulating an entire system. I see the mouse driver as being certainly paravirtual, but it's just semantics.
It is just semantics, or possibly in the category of stuff I don't fully understand...

My understanding is that a passthrough device is a very simple way of making hardware available to a guest, for example giving a guest total control over a physical disk on the host. Still, even in this case your guests still need to speak to your emulated SATA/SCSI/SAS controller. Paravirtualization is far more complex, and is needed for giving a driver higher level access to the underlying hardware. With a paravirtualized disk driver your guests could speak to physical disks *and* use your host's disk controller. With a paravirtualized network driver network access is somehow faster too. This is the extent of my understanding.

As it stands right now, we can't do this. You can't give two OSes physical access to the video hardware or they'll stomp on each other's VRAM space, so now we're back to needing to make the call through the host OS, and the host OS's drivers may not support things the guest OS supports (Like Direct3D for instance).
Yeah, that was my understanding too... So, the mouse driver might be paravirt technically, but not the display driver. Whether the mouse driver is paravirt or not is probably best left to semantics, because it's not like it really matters in terms of performance, unless you plan to benchmark your mousing

I can't swear to it (Because I'm not a coder working on it), but it looks a lot like Fusion is running a very similar hypervisor to ESXi.
You'd think that VMWare would consolidate all of their products, and VMWare Server has some resemblances and some of the same problems as ESXi. I don't know whether VMWare just intentionally cripples some of their products or whether there actually are differences, but my sense is that Fusion, Server, and everything that is not ESXi is either crippled or somehow different. Maybe ESXi is a testing ground for new features and some of this stuff will trickle down into Fusion/Server eventually, I don't know...

I'm sure VMWare makes the bulk of their money selling ESXi, their other products may be primarily hooks to make people ESXi customers. I'm not really sure how this works for your Mac or Windows user that just wants to run one or two VMs, but I guess VMWare doesn't really care a whole lot about these sorts of users in terms of their profit margins.
     
   
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