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John Paul Cook

Windows 7 bios problems blocking virtualization

Windows 7 Virtual PC requires hardware assisted virtualization, either Intel VT or AMD-V. It must be enabled in the bios. Most Sony Vaio machines have hardware virtualization intentionally disabled. ASUS doesn’t block hardware virtualization, but after awakening from sleep, their bios doesn’t expose hardware virtualization as it should be. I reported this to ASUS over the weekend and they sent me a new bios early Monday morning, but it doesn’t solve the problem. Clean boot, hardware virtualization works. Resume the machine from sleep, hardware virtualization doesn’t work. It’s terribly inconvenient to be rebooting when the machine comes out of sleep mode. UPDATE: Microsoft and ASUS people are working to resolve this issue.

Sony owners are resorting to hacking the bios to expose hardware virtualization. Using the symcmos program, they modify the nvram. Making a mistake can leave a machine completely unbootable – at least until clearing the CMOS as I had to do after my first ASUS bios update. Here’s a post on what Sony owners have to go through: http://forum.notebookreview.com/showthread.php?t=189228. HP issued a bios update to fix VT capable machines not working after resuming from sleep.

The reason virtualization is so important to SQL Server people is that we need realistic environments for development, testing, and demos. That means we need two machines – one for SQL Server, another for applications that use SQL Server as a backend. Virtualizing at least one of those machines offers a great deal of convenience. Because of the performance gains, hardware virtualization is the future of virtual machine technology. My advice is to be very careful about spending your money. Just because your processor supports virtualization doesn’t mean the motherboard or pc manufacturer is going to make it easy for you.

Published Monday, August 10, 2009 11:50 PM by John Paul Cook
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About John Paul Cook

John Paul Cook is a Technology Solution Professional for Microsoft's data platform and works out of Microsoft's Houston office. Prior to joining Microsoft, he was a Microsoft SQL Server MVP. He is experienced in Microsoft SQL Server and Oracle database application design, development, and implementation. He has spoken at many conferences including Microsoft TechEd and the SQL PASS Summit. He has worked in oil and gas, financial, manufacturing, and healthcare industries. John is also a Registered Nurse who graduated from Vanderbilt University with a Master of Science in Nursing Informatics and is an active member of the Sigma Theta Tau nursing honor society. He volunteers as a nurse at safety net clinics. Contributing author to SQL Server MVP Deep Dives and SQL Server MVP Deep Dives Volume 2.

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