FREE: Detect Intel and AMD Hyper-V compatibility

Michael PietroforteMVP By Michael Pietroforte - Wed, July 2, 2008 - 9 comments google+ icon

Michael Pietroforte is the founder and editor of 4sysops. He is a Microsoft Most Valuable Professional (MVP) with more than 30 years of experience in system administration.

Intel-VTYou probably know that you can install Hyper-V only on a computer that supports Intel’s or AMD’s virtualization technologies (x86 virtualization), i.e. Intel VT and AMD-V. That is, the CPU and the BIOS have to support it. I have already encountered relatively new PCs which have processors with virtualization support, but the BIOS setup doesn’t have an option to enable it. Sometimes it helps to update the BIOS.

amd-v-hyper-v-compatibility-check AMD and Intel both offer free tools that allow you to check whether a computer supports hardware virtualization. If you’re unsure, you should use these utilities before you install Hyper-V. They also show whether virtualization is enabled. On most systems it is disabled by default for security reasons. To enable it, you have to change the corresponding BIOS settings. That is, you have to enable hardware virtualization and the NX-bit (AMD) or the XD-bit (Intel) respectively. Hyper-V can be installed without CPU virtualization enabled, but then its hypervisor won’t start and you will find related error messages in the event log.

Intel-VT-2Unfortunately, the Intel tool is not 100% reliable. I tried it on a Fujitsu-Siemens server which definitely supported Intel VT, but Intel’s tool reported the opposite. We enabled Intel VT in the BIOS, and Hyper-V is running perfectly on this machine. I don’t know if the AMD tool is also that unreliable because we only have machines with AMD CPUs that don’t support AMD-V.

Please share your experiences with x86 virtualization. Did you have to update the BIOS? Did you also find that detection tools discusses here are a bit unreliable?

AMD Hyper-V System Compatibility Check Utility

Intel Processor Identification Utility

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9 Comments- Leave a Reply

  1. [...] Earlier this year, John Howard wrote about how to turn on hardware assisted virtualisation but Michael Pietroforte has written about free tools from AMD and Intel which allow administrators to ch…. [...]

  2. Bob Romney says:

    You know, it’s funny, earlier this year I built a new machine specifically to play with virtualization and Hyper-V in particular. Not knowing all the nuances of virtualization terminolgy I happily purchased an AMD Athlon 64 X2 Dual Core 5400 processor, dropped it into a PCCHIPS A13G+ mobo (not somethig I would do again) and installed the recently RTM’d Windows Server 2008 with the Hyper-V update. Away I went into the virtualized world and after a little fiddling with Virtualization Manager, I had all the VMs I could handle.

    Later, I learned about the utilities to detect and test processors for their ability to support hardware virtualization. Lo and behold all the detection utilities I ran told me I was not running AMD-V and that the processor did not support virtualzation. So I flashed an updated BIOS but still no joy.

    The AMD Microsoft Compatibility Checker says “system is not compatible with Hyper-V” and CPU-Z and CrystalCPUID both fail to detect AMD-V. And yet Hyper-V seems to be running just fine, thank you.

    My conclusion is that either the requirements are wrong or the detection utilities are unreliable. What are other people finding?

    Bob Romney

  3. Michael Pietroforte Michael says:

    I made the same findings as you. These tools are indeed not very reliable.

  4. Jamie says:

    I recently installed Windows 2008 64-bit on my HP6715b laptop (Turion 64 X2 mobile TL-56) hoping to get to know Win2008 and to play with Hyper-V.

    The HyperVisor services wouldn’t start, as my processor didn’t support it. The AMD CPU check said that my processor *did* support Hyper-V, but that a BIOS update was needed [to enable it]. Updating the BIOS didn’t help – the menus in it are so simplified, giving no access to such fancy things as CPU options, let alone enable secure virtualization.

    Now I’m even more disappointed after having run the AMD CPUInfo tool, which shows clearly that my processor supports it, but that the function is not enabled.

    At the end of the day I guess I should be satisfied with having such a fantastic OS on my computer (Win2008 rocks on a laptop!!!) but having Hyper-V would be the icing on the cake.

    Is there any way to turn on this CPU virtualization mode other than through the BIOS setup menus?

    -Jamie

  5. jamie says:

    An interesting follow-up.

    After I gave up on Hyper-V, I installed MS Virtual PC so I could get on with my work. I noticed that it was using the Hardware Virtualization support that my computer provided (as it did under XP), and got annoyed that MSVPC seemed to enjoy my cpu, while Hyper-V didn’t.

    Just for kicks, I decided to run the AMD CPUInfo tool again. What did I find? Secure virtualization Mode was suddenly enabled! I quit MSVPC and CPUInfo, started CPUInfo again, and it showed that Secure Virtualization Mode was not enabled. Started up MSVPC again, yup it was enabled again.

    Is this just another case of the tools showing incorrect information, or is it actually possible to enable NX (Secure Virtualization Mode) from inside windows?? Why won’t Hyper-V do this?

    -Jamie

  6. Michael Pietroforte Michael says:

    Jamie, I suppose one of the tools didn’t work correctly. As far as I know, it is only possible to enable virtualization support via the BIOS setup.

  7. Jamie says:

    Silly tools.

    There are no such options in the BIOS setup on my 6715b. HP support has also confirmed that this PC can’t use Hyper-V – something about the processor supporting it, but that the laptop was built with a kind of socket that doesn’t allow for it. A 6710b with an Athlon processor will work, and apparently it’s true:

    http://community.sgdotnet.org/blogs/microlau/archive/2008/10/14/isolating-slowness-on-my-hp-compaq-6510b.aspx

    I still think it’s just the lack of BIOS support. In any case, I’ve given up for now.

    Got a Dell e6400 to play with the other day (centrino2) and wow what a difference in BIOS menus!!! There were all kinds of virtualisation goodies to turn on, and I got Hyper-V to work on that system without a hitch. Too bad I have to give it back soon…

  8. Michael Pietroforte Michael says:

    I had the same problem with an HP machine. I think it is not a processor problem. Their desktop BIOS doesn’t support it. I hope they will release a new BIOS soon.

  9. Sebastian T says:

    You mentioned in your article that Hyper-V can be installed on a system without a CPU enabled with Hardware Virtualisation, can you give me any tips or point me to a guide where it outlines this process.

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