VMware Fusion Tech Preview 2014 – Multiple GPU support

VMware Fusion Tech Preview 2014 (TP) has been available since the end of May and it contains a number of pretty cool new features. As I was migrating among continents (from Asia to Europe) I did not really have the time to start testing at the time that the beta started. Now that in my day to day life things are finally starting to get back to normal, I decided to dive in and installed the TP yesterday. Over the next few posts I will try to highlight my experiences.From the “What’s New” features:

Configure the use of integrated or discrete graphics cards on Mac Book Pros with more than one GPU.

This means that if you have a Macbook Pro (MBP) with more as one graphics card that you can now be able and enjoy a much longer battery life by using the integrated graphics card. For example in my MBP there’s an integrated graphics card “Intel HD graphics 4000” and a discrete “NVIDIA Geforce GT 650M”. The latter one is required when you plugin an external monitor and is absolutely wonderful, but it’s a bit of a stove and makes sure that the laptop is always hot (+64 degrees Celcius was normal) and slurps a lot of power.

NotBakingEggs

Previously with Fusion 6 and earlier, Fusion required to use the NVIDIA card even if your virtual machine was running in text only. Not very great when on the road. Currently I’m running with 3 virtual machines using integrated graphics and the battery still promises another 3 hours while already burning through an hour. What’s even better as you can see above, my lap is no longer getting overheated as the CPU is now only 49 degrees. Warm, but not burning hot.

For the record that’s with freeBSD, Windows Vista AND Windows 8.1 running all at the same time while I am writing this post in Vista.DynamicSwitching

This is truly a great feature for the road warriors under us.

Now how does this work? In Fusion menu “Virtual Machines” under the Display settings there is a new option.VirtualMachineDisplaySettingsYou can only change this option with the Virtual Machine shut down, the default setting is currently selected. The way I tested this was by unplugging my MBP from the external screen, shut down Fusion and started up the VMs from suspend mode. The freeBSD VM didn’t change the graphics processor and I was still on integrated GPU. Starting up the Windows 8.1 VM from suspend however did switch the GPU to discrete. I shut down the VM, changed the setting to “Don’t Use High Performance Graphics…” and rebooted the VM. The MBP was indeed still using integrated GPU now.

Then I resumed the Vista Virtual Machine and to my surprise it never did switch back the MBP to discrete graphics, even while the VM has 3D acceleration enabled and was running on the NVIDIA GPU when suspending.  So in conclusion I can only be very happy with this new feature. Pretty amazing.

 

 

 

 

Author: Wil van Antwerpen

Wil van Antwerpen is a software developer who loves to work on Open Source and dabble a bit with VMware products. He likes to help people out as that is a good way to learn more. He is the author of Vimalin Backup (https://vimalin.com) which is virtual machine backup software for VMware Fusion and VMware Workstation Pro.

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