TweetFollow Us on Twitter

Head-to-Head: Parallels Desktop for Mac vs. VMware Fusion

Volume Number: 25 (2009)
Issue Number: 04
Column Tag: Virtualization

Head-to-Head: Parallels Desktop for Mac vs. VMware Fusion (cont.)

How do VMware Fusion and Parallels Desktop for Mac stack up?

by Neil Ticktin, Editor-in-Chief/Publisher

Start | 1 | 2 | 3 | 4

Application Performance Tests

In many cases, applications today, perform so well and so fast, even under virtualized environments, that anyone would be pleased for small documents and activities. We focused our efforts on larger tasks that were not only large enough to measure, but will also stress the systems to some extent.

For Microsoft Word, we took a very large document and did a global search and replace of about 95,000 items. For Microsoft Excel, we ran a macro that generated a large quantity of random numbers, and filled cells with them. And, for PowerPoint, we had the application render slides with transitions as quickly as possible (all the other PowerPoint tests worked too fast to measure).

  • Word Global Find & Replace

    • XP: Parallels Desktop 4% faster (range: 0.5 seconds slower to 6.5 seconds faster, fastest: 34 seconds)

    • Vista: Parallels Desktop 9% faster (range: 14 seconds slower to 21 seconds faster, fastest: 42 seconds)

  • Excel Macro Test

    • XP: Parallels Desktop 14% faster (range: 0.5-1.6 seconds faster, fastest: 5.5 seconds)

    • Vista: Parallels Desktop 13% faster (range: 0.3-1.3 seconds faster, fastest: 4.5 seconds)

  • PowerPoint View slide transitions

    • XP: VMware Fusion 2% faster (range: 0.2 seconds slower to 0.2 seconds faster, fastest: 5.5 seconds)

    • Vista: Both performed almost the same (range: 4.7-5.6 seconds)


    Figure 6: Windows Application Performance

    Many web pages are simple enough that they load very quickly. So, to test the speed of Internet Explorer, we created a large, complex page in HTML loaded from a local LAN server. The page was very long, but used only common HTML elements, (no JavaScript, etc.). But, for whatever reason, VMware Fusion took significantly longer ... sometimes, an order of magnitude longer--across the board. As a result, we removed this test from the overall analysis (the average of averages ... or more technically, the geomean of geomeans) so that it wouldn't skew the overall results.

    The tests performed used the same web page ... with and without SSL.

    • Internet Explorer Load complex web page

      • XP: Parallels Desktop 82% faster (range: 40-60 seconds faster, fastest: 9 seconds)

      • Vista: Parallels Desktop 91% faster (range: 79-126 seconds faster, fastest: 9 seconds)

    • Internet Explorer Load complex web page (SSL)

      • XP: Parallels Desktop 80% faster (range: 40-60 seconds faster, fastest: 11 seconds)

      • Vista: Parallels Desktop 84% faster (range: 54-80 seconds faster, fastest: 10 seconds)


    Figure 7: Internet Explorer Application Performance

    Footprint Tests

    One of the most interesting things in the virtualization market is how little overhead virtualization takes today compared to what it used to. To assess this, we measured in a variety of ways. Specifically, we focused on CPU usage (overall for the Mac), real memory usage (overall for the Mac), and how long the battery would last. CPU and memory usage were measured using "top" (a command line tool that's part of UNIX with a minimum of 50 continuous samples averaged for the result).

    We ran three CPU usage tests. The first test was to boot Windows and let it sit for a few minutes to finish up its startup activities. Once done, CPU use was measured while both the Mac OS X and Windows were sitting idle. The next test studied the same thing except both Microsoft Word and Microsoft Outlook were launched and left sitting idle. The last test explored CPU usage while playing a DVD.

    (Note: For testing the playing of a DVD, we had a bit of a challenge. Parallels Desktop supports the default application for playing DVDs that comes with Windows (Windows Media Player), but we had problems with WMP under VMware Fusion. Their web site also talks about these issues. As a workaround, VMware suggests the open source VLC Player, but we had trouble getting VLC Player to work in Parallels Desktop. It was important for both virtualization environments to use the same application, so we used Media Player Classic for the tests.)

    For the two idle tests, both virtualized environments did very, very well with only 2-5% of the CPU being used. So, while one may be 1/3 or more faster, it's not a significant difference to the user in real terms.

    • CPU use for sitting idle (in %)

      • XP: Parallels Desktop used 1/3rd less CPU (range: 1-8% CPU use)

        Vista: Parallels Desktop used 1/3rd less CPU (range: 1-9% CPU use)

    • CPU use for VM sitting idle with both Word/Outlook (in %)

      • XP: Parallels Desktop used 1/5th less CPU (range: 1-8% CPU use)

      • Vista: Parallels Desktop used 1/7th less CPU (range: 1-10% CPU use)

    • CPU use for play DVD (in %)

      • XP: About the same (range: 3-33% CPU use)

      • Vista: Parallels Desktop used 1/25th less CPU (range: 3-36% CPU use)


    Figure 8: Virtual Machine CPU Usage

    The memory footprint was done for two idle tests, similar to the CPU usage tests above. Here, however, the differences were more meaningful, and would be noticeable to the user. Take note, we're looking at both 1GB and 2GB virtual machines here.

    • Real Memory use for sitting idle (in MB)

      • XP: Parallels Desktop used 48% less RAM (range: 716-1748 MB less)

      • Vista: Parallels Desktop used 21% less RAM (range: 274-1125 MB less)

    • Real Memory use for VM sitting idle with both Word/Outlook (in MB)

      • XP: Parallels Desktop used 39% less RAM (range: 527-1567 MB less)

      • Vista: Parallels Desktop used 21% less RAM (range: 257-1109 MB less)


    Figure 9: Virtual Machine Memory Usage

    Take note, Parallels is doing something interesting here with memory allocation: Parallels Desktop only takes memory from Mac OS X when Windows needs it. In other words, if you have a 2GB virtual machine, it will initially take less than 2GB of memory from the Mac, until you've opened enough application or documents that Windows needs the RAM. By contrast, VMware Fusion appears to allocate all the memory for the virtual machine at launch.

    For the exhaust battery test, we ran an "endless loop" macro in Excel that generated random numbers. When approaching the end of battery, Parallels Desktop will pause the virtual machine, and ultimately, the Mac will go into a hibernate mode saving off where things are at. VMware Fusion will suspend the virtual machine before sleeping.

    • Exhaust Battery: Endless Macro in Excel

      • XP: Parallels Desktop battery usage lasted 8% longer (9 minutes longer for 99 min total)

      • Vista: Parallels Desktop battery usage lasted 9% longer (9 minutes longer for 92 min total)


    Figure 10: Virtualized Machine Battery Performance

    File and Network IO Tests

    Originally, we ran file copy tests on all the environments. In analyzing the results, we realized that there was a huge problem. Mac OS X and Windows were interfering, in a good way for typical users, with the results. Both Mac OS X and Windows have some pretty sophisticated caching schemes, but they also made File and Network IO tests unpredictable. As just one example, sometimes a MacBook was faster than a Mac Pro, and other times it was not. In the end, we tossed out the several hundred test times, and re-tested.

    Due to time constraints, the retests focused solely on the MacBook Pro. To avoid the interaction problems with Mac OS X and Windows, we tested using data set sizes that were about the same size as the physical memory, or larger. This prevented the Mac and Windows from any type of caching. The data sets we copied from one location to another were 3.7GB total (two 1.85GB files because we needed to stay below the 2GB file limit).

    The same set of files was used for all the copies so that you can see the differences between the different methods of copying. (Most of which were in the same relative time frame, except for copying to a USB Flash Drive. See the chart.)

    Networking was done via the default NAT setup in both virtualized environments, and the defaults for disk setup for each application were used as well.

    Here were the results:

    • File copy - duplicate on local virtual hard drive

      • XP: Parallels Desktop 31% faster (75 seconds faster, fastest: 165 seconds)

      • Vista: Parallels Desktop 43% faster (137 seconds faster, fastest: 181 seconds)

    • File copy - to local Mac hard drive

      • XP: Parallels Desktop 11% faster (18 seconds faster, fastest: 149 seconds)

      • Vista: VMware Fusion 8% faster (14 seconds faster, fastest: 181 seconds)

    • File copy - from local Mac hard drive

      • XP: Parallels Desktop 36% faster (94 seconds faster, fastest: 167 seconds)

      • Vista: Parallels Desktop 42% faster (134 seconds faster, fastest: 182 seconds)

    • File copy - to LAN Server

      • XP: Parallels Desktop 35% faster (113 seconds faster, fastest: 213 seconds)

      • Vista: Parallels Desktop 16% faster (36 seconds faster, fastest: 186 seconds)

    • File copy - from LAN Server

      • XP: Parallels Desktop 28% faster (70 seconds faster, fastest: 176 seconds)

      • Vista: Parallels Desktop 14% faster (27 seconds faster, fastest: 168 seconds)

    • File copy - to USB Flash Drive

      • XP: Parallels Desktop 6% faster (53 seconds faster, fastest: 774 seconds)

      • Vista: Parallels Desktop 4% faster (37 seconds faster, fastest: 859 seconds)

    • File copy - from USB Flash Drive

      • XP: Parallels Desktop 15% faster (52 seconds faster, fastest: 300 seconds)

      • Vista: VMware Fusion 8% faster (22 seconds faster, fastest: 283 seconds)

    Or, said much better on a graph, it looks like this:


    Figure 11: Virtual Machine File and Network I/O Performance



    Start | 1 | 2 | 3 | 4
  •  

    Community Search:
    MacTech Search:

    Software Updates via MacUpdate

    Latest Forum Discussions

    See All

    Can PokeMatch help you find love with Po...
    The unofficial Pokemon GO companion app space has exploded almost as fast as the game itself over the last few weeks. Aspiring app developers, many of them working solo, have given us apps that locate Pokemon, keep track of the server status, and... | Read more »
    How to get started with Prisma
    If there's one thing people like to do more than taking pictures with their smartphones, it's tinkering with those photos in some way. Numerous apps have sprung up over the last several years that allow you to use filters and special effects to... | Read more »
    6 Pokemon GO updates you can expect, acc...
    Pokemon GO had a scheduled appearance at this year's San Diego Comic-Con for a while, but it was only relatively close to the show that it was upgraded to a spot in Hall H. That's the biggest venue at SDCC, one usually reserved for the largest... | Read more »
    How to evolve Eevee in Pokemon GO
    By now, almost everyone should be hip to how to evolve Pokemon in Pokemon GO (and if not, there's a guide for that). Just gather enough candy of the appropriate type, feed them all to the Pokemon, and evolution happens. It's a miracle that would... | Read more »
    CSR Racing 2: Guide to all game modes
    It might not seem like there are all that many ways to go fast in a straight line, but CSR Racing 2 begs to differ. [Read more] | Read more »
    Bulb Boy (Games)
    Bulb Boy 1.0 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $2.99, Version: 1.0 (iTunes) Description: Multi-award winning 2D point & click horror adventure about a boy with a glowing head. | Read more »
    5 top free emoji keyboard apps
    If we're not at peak emoji yet as a society, it feels like we definitely should be. The emoji concept has gone far beyond what anyone in Japan could have envisioned when the people there unleashed it on an unsuspecting world, but the West has... | Read more »
    How to unlock more characters in Disney...
    One of the big charms of Disney Emoji Blitz is seeing a wide variety of beloved Disney and Pixar characters transformed into smiling emojis. Even someone like the sneaky Randall from Monsters Inc., who probably never cracked a smile on film, is... | Read more »
    Cubway (Games)
    Cubway 1.0 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $1.99, Version: 1.0 (iTunes) Description: Cubway is a journey with an abstract story of lifecycle of rebirth, called Samsara. Guide the cube through the long way full of dangers... | Read more »
    Colorcube (Games)
    Colorcube 1.0 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $1.99, Version: 1.0 (iTunes) Description: Turn pieces and blend colours in this minimal yet visually stunning puzzler.Over 200 handcrafted and challenging levels. Features... | Read more »

    Price Scanner via MacPrices.net

    GSK Rheumatoid Arthritis Study Leverages iPho...
    Global healthcare products company GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) says that since 2014 they have begun transforming the way they conduct research, by leveraging state-of-the-art digital technologies — a... Read more
    Clearance 12-inch Retina MacBooks, Apple refu...
    Apple has Certified Refurbished 2015 12″ Retina MacBooks available starting at $929. Apple will include a standard one-year warranty with each MacBook, and shipping is free. The following... Read more
    13-inch Retina MacBook Pros on sale for up to...
    B&H Photo has 13″ Retina MacBook Pros on sale for up to $150 off MSRP. Shipping is free, and B&H charges NY tax only: - 13″ 2.7GHz/128GB Retina MacBook Pro: $1199 $100 off MSRP - 13″ 2.7GHz/... Read more
    13-inch 1.6GHz/128GB MacBook Air on sale for...
    Amazon has the 13″ 1.6GHz/128GB MacBook Air on sale for $200 off MSRP for a limited time. Shipping is free: - 13″ 1.6GHz/128GB MacBook Air (sku MMGF2LL/A): $799.99 $200 off MSRP Their price is the... Read more
    13-inch 1.6GHz/256GB MacBook Air on sale for...
    Amazon has the 13″ 1.6GHz/256GB MacBook Air on sale for $200 off MSRP for a limited time. Shipping is free: - 13″ 1.6GHz/256GB MacBook Air (sku MMGG2LL/A): $999.99 $200 off MSRP Their price is the... Read more
    Free iOS Business App notably* Helps Service...
    PayStudio Inc. has introduced their new business app notably* 1.0, developed for iPhone and iPod touch. notably* was specifically developed to help service and trade professionals go digital and... Read more
    27-inch iMacs on sale for $200 off MSRP
    Amazon has 27″ iMacs on sale for $200 off MSRP including free shipping: - 27″ 3.3GHz iMac 5K: $2099 $200 off MSRP - 27″ 3.2GHz/1TB Fusion iMac 5K: $1799.99 $200 off MSRP - 27″ 3.2GHz/1TB HD iMac 5K... Read more
    Mac Pros on sale for $200 off MSRP
    B&H Photo has Mac Pros on sale for $200 off MSRP. Shipping is free, and B&H charges sales tax in NY only: - 3.7GHz 4-core Mac Pro: $2799, $200 off MSRP - 3.5GHz 6-core Mac Pro: $3799, $200... Read more
    Save up to $600 with Apple refurbished Mac Pr...
    Apple has Certified Refurbished Mac Pros available for up to $600 off the cost of new models. An Apple one-year warranty is included with each Mac Pro, and shipping is free. The following... Read more
    Apple price trackers, updated continuously
    Scan our Apple Price Trackers for the latest information on sales, bundles, and availability on systems from Apple’s authorized internet/catalog resellers. We update the trackers continuously: - 15″... Read more

    Jobs Board

    *Apple* Retail - Multiple Positions, Willow...
    Job Description:SalesSpecialist - Retail Customer Service and SalesTransform Apple Store visitors into loyal Apple customers. When customers enter the store, Read more
    *Apple* Evangelist - JAMF Software (United S...
    The Apple Evangelist is responsible for building and cultivating strategic relationships with Apple 's small and mid-market business development field teams. This Read more
    *Apple* Solutions Consultant - APPLE (United...
    Job Summary As an Apple Solutions Consultant, you'll be the link between our future customers and our products. You'll showcase your entrepreneurial spirit as you Read more
    *Apple* Professional Learning Specialist - A...
    Job Summary The Apple Professional Learning Specialist is a full-time position for one year with Apple in the Phoenix, AZ area. This position requires a high Read more
    *Apple* Picker - Apple Hill Orchard (United...
    Apple Hill Orchard, Co. Rte. 21,Whitehall, NY 9/7/16-10/228/16. Pick fresh market or processing apples Productivity of 60 boxes and 80 boxes processing fruit per Read more
    All contents are Copyright 1984-2011 by Xplain Corporation. All rights reserved. Theme designed by Icreon.