HYPER-V

hyper-vHyper-V originally shipped as a service pack for Windows Server 2008. This is not backwards compatible with the older Virtual PC that was available for XP, Vista and Windows 7. You will need to create new virtual machines and virtual hard disks etc.

Hyper-V now comes with Windows 8 Professional and above. Hyper-V is not available with the Home edition.

  • CPU x64 pass-through
  • 64 TB dynamically expanding disk
  • PCI graphics
  • 10 gigabit Ethernet
  • Dynamic RAM
  • CD/DVD physical or mounted

Once a virtual machine has been created and Windows has been installed then its possible to setup the CPU and RAM. Hyper-V supports dynamic memory allocation.  How this works is the memory is shared between virtual machines and its allocated as needed. This way the minimum install RAM can be expanded if the role(s) require it. Realistically installing 16GB or memory is needed to effectively use Hyper-V for gaming.

The old Virtual PC is limited to 127 GB which is the LBA24 limitation. Now it’s possible to have 64TB of storage. The actual available space will depend on the storage appliance used.

Hyper-V can allow a virtual machine to use the CD/DVD hardware drive or it can use a mounted ISO image. The use of a folder with installers makes it very convenient.

2 GENERATIONS

For older versions of Windows generation 1 virtual machines are necessary. They do not work with generation 2 virtual machines. The old Virtual PC and earlier versions of Hyper-V use the original abstract machine with EIDE disks. The second generation gets rid of the old EIDE disks in favor of SCSI disks, it’s mostly used by Windows Server for demanding workloads.

SYSTEM REQUIREMENTS

  • x64 CPU support AMD-V or Intel VT-x
  • 8 GB RAM or more
  • 2 TB hard disk or more
  • CD/DVD/BD

Hyper-V needs a CPU with second level address translation (SLAT) to be able to run x64 operating systems. AMD AM3 and above and Intel i3, i5 and i7 and above all support SLAT. Older processors will not be able to run the Windows 8 Hyper-V.

Using 1000BASE-T and category 7 or better cable which uses all 4 pairs of wire with a modern home router will be able to provide DHCP for the guest virtual machines. Hyper-V can easily configured to pass through to the router which can handle the workload easily. Eventually 10GBASE-T will find its way onto gaming motherboards once 28nm chipsets are mass produced. 40GBASE-T needs category 8 cables.

LICENSE

Microsoft licenses a virtual machine like a standard desktop, a separate license is needed for each VM.  Operating a dedicated game server is multi user but that is managed by Steam. Windows 10 is ideal for operating the game server.

We have licenses for all versions of Windows so we can test games for compatibility. The virtual machine is easy to replace in case of a software problem. XP is the biggest nuisance, we have enterprise licenses for Vista and up so we can literally just make copies of an existing VHD for a fresh install equivalent.

THE GPU MATTERS

The gaming class GPU is now being recognized by Hyper-V for RemoteFX. This means that DirectX and other gaming APIs will be available. There is more overhead but legacy games generally are less demanding.

We have tried both our HD 6970 and GTX 660 Ti and in both cases Hyper-V does recognize the gaming video card. The problem is that generation 1 virtual machines only have a 4MB VGA with NO 3D capability. RemoteFX is not very capable for demanding games.

While antique games precede the rise of the GPU, the limited capability of the generation 1 virtual machine does make it harder to play some early DX titles.

SETUP

Consider a Windows 7 virtual machine. Already Windows 7 and above recognizes that its in a virtual machine so integration components are not needed. Earlier versions of Windows will need to have integration components installed. Best is to use 2048MB of startup memory so that the boot is faster. The minimum can be set to 512MB.

We allocate the maximum 64TB of storage as a dynamically expanding disk. This means no worry with running out of space.

One game we play, Frontlines: Fuel of War, has a PhysX problem. While the game works with Windows 10, the NVIDIA PhysX driver has to be removed and an older version of PhysX needed.

The problem with disk checks has motivated many to republish old games in Stream. It has also pushed developers to modernize the game to work with DX9 or better so that higher resolution panels work better.

DOS VIRTUAL MACHINE

By setting up a ready to go virtual machine makes it easier for those who do not have a USB floppy disk drive handy. Now DOS 6.22 is available complete with the maximum 2GB virtual hard disk which is enough to install almost every DOS game ever published. Hyper-V generation 1 supports VGA so a classic game can use 320×200 or 640×480 as needed.

WIndows 95 and Windows 98 are blocked by Hyper-V. It’s possible to run Virtual PC with a Windows XP virtual machine and this would allow Windows 98 to be set up.  The VHD from Virtual PC is still blocked so it has to be run with XP only.