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Virtualization is one of the many advantages that Apple gained with their switch to Intel's x86 architecture. Currently two kinds of software use virtualization on OS X. Parallels Workstation and Q (A Mac Port of Qemu) are both working virtual machines that enable you to run x86 operating systems inside. Both applications have successfully run windows XP and have their own pros and cons. Here's an in depth analysis that was compiled after reading various posts/threads on insanely Mac forums.


The first area that I am going to take a look at is the user interface (GUI). When looking at both applications side by side it is quite obvious parallels workstation has the superior interface. It seems to be better integrated into the aqua environment, also the cube effect makes switching between full screen and windowed mode more elegant. According to avid user Staphyl "Parallels GUI is simple with colorful shapes that let you know what to do." Many people find this to be a great feature in parallels workstation. Another current OS X user who has had some experience with both applications mentioned Qemu's GUI. According to Krazubu "Qemu at the very beginning of it's Intel port was very minimalist but this can be either a pro or con". Also Krazubu voiced his opinion about switching between VM and OSX in parallels. He said "When you switch from full screen back to OSX, the parallels windows stays visible an option to make it fully disappear would be fine. This way you could "fully switch" from XP to OSX, in example only with the cube effect as a transition".


Next I would like to discuss virtualization performance and how it is affected by the hardware you have. When Apple made the switch to the Intel architecture they chose a high performance dual core processor to put in their machines. Not only is this processor exceptional for running OS X in general but it also can be specifically coded to use with virtualization. This enables the programmers to use specific code based on that processor, overall this means a huge increase in virtualization speed. After testing these virtual machines I got a better idea of true virtualization. The two systems I tested both applications on was my custom built computer and my laptop. The specifications for my custom built computer are an Intel Celeron-d processor on an asrock 915gl mobo, 512mb DDR ram, overclocked to 2.5ghz. My laptop is an Emachines amd64 sse2, NX operating at 2.0ghz with 768mb of DDR ram. Both machines perform amazingly but virtualization would be the ultimate task. Both machines ran Qemu surprisingly well but the performance of parallels was horrible on my Celeron-d. Although it performed worse then Qemu on my Celeron-d, parallels was the champion on my amd64 leaving Qemu in the dust. Seriously if you have the right hardware parallels can fly.

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