Expanding Capabilities and Saving Costs with Nested Virtualization

Nested Virtualization and Parallels Desktop

Using nested virtualization, developers can develop and test their software without having to buy additional hardware. This helps save time, money, and resources.

Nested virtualization is supported on Intel Mac computers with Apple silicon. However, it is not supported on M2 Macs. This is due to a limitation in the Apple chip.

How to enable nested virtualization?

Modern processors include hardware virtualization features such as Intel VT-x and AMD-V. Nested virtualization allows a host operating system to expose these hardware virtualization extensions to a guest virtual machine.

This feature is currently only available in Windows 10 with the latest Insider Build 10565. To use nested virtualization on your PC, your processor must support SLAT (Second Level Address Translation).

Parallels Desktop supports nested virtualization on Apple Mac computers with Intel silicon. It’s important to note that enabling nested virtualization will significantly affect performance of the virtual machine.

To minimize performance impact, Parallels Desktop automatically optimizes the performance of Windows and macOS applications depending on what you’re doing at a given time. This means that when you’re running a Windows program, more resources are given to Windows; and when you’re using a macOS application, more resources are given to macOS. You can also enable the option to manually control which applications get priority and how much memory each gets.

What is nested virtualization?

Modern processors include hardware features for virtualization, such as Intel VT-x and AMD-V. Nested virtualization is the ability to use these processor extensions inside a guest virtual machine. Without nested virtualization, the hypervisor takes full control of these hardware extensions and does not expose them to the guest operating system.

With nested virtualization, the hypervisor in the guest virtual machine exposes these processor extensions to the guest operating system. This allows the guest to install its own hypervisor and run its own virtual machines.

This makes it possible to use a single computer for development and testing of new applications. It also saves time and money by avoiding the need to purchase and configure separate hardware for each application. Nested virtualization is supported in Parallels Desktop for Mac Pro and Business Editions. However, it does impact performance. If you enable nested virtualization, you will experience a 10% or greater decrease in CPU-bound workloads and performance may be even worse for memory-bound applications.

Why do I need nested virtualization?

Nested virtualization allows you to run a VM inside another VM, and it can improve performance by using the hardware virtualization capabilities of the host. To enable nested virtualization in a VM, make sure it has Intel VT-x or AMD-V enabled (or has host-passthrough). You can check this by running virt-manager and looking at the /sys/module/kvm_intel/parameters/nested file or /sys/module/kvm_amd/parameters/nested. If the output says 1 or Y, it supports nested virtualization.

This feature is useful for developers and testers who want to create a simulated environment where they can test various scenarios. For example, you can use it to run a Windows phone emulator inside a Parallels Desktop VM so that you can test and develop apps for the platform without having to purchase an actual device.

Other benefits of nested virtualization include reduced cost by running more VMs on the same physical hardware and easier migration between different types of virtualization software. However, there are a few limitations with this feature that you should be aware of.

What are the benefits of nested virtualization?

Using nested virtualization allows businesses to expand their capabilities without the cost of additional hardware. Instead of one server for each function, a business could use multiple virtual machines to handle a variety of different tasks, like development, testing, and sales demos.

Another benefit of nested virtualization is improved security. Each VM is independent from each other, so changes made in one VM don’t affect the others, creating a more secure environment.

Additionally, nested virtualization can be used for training and education purposes. By using a virtual environment, you can teach IT professionals about different IT architectures and technologies without the need for expensive physical hardware. This feature is especially beneficial for organizations that need to support legacy applications. Nested virtualization also offers a scalable solution that can help companies save costs and increase productivity.

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