VirtualBox Network Performance Comparison
Overtime, virtualization becomes more and more wide-spread in all types of IT infrastructures. When using virtual servers, it is very important to know how fast a virtual server will perform comparing to the performance provided by the physical hardware platform and how much of the performance will be lost when moving applications from a physical server to a virtual server.
The purpose of this benchmark is to compare the network performance of virtual machines running different guest operating systems to the network performance of the physical hardware platform using the Oracle VirtualBox virtualization product.
VirtualBox Host Server Configuration
VirtualBox Virtual Machines Configuration
Desktop Guest Operating Systems
Server Guest Operating Systems
For this benchmark, we have used two identical servers, each one equipped with an 8-Core Intel CPU, 32 GB of system memory, an SSD disk for the host operating system and a separate SSD disk for all guest virtual machines. Both servers were connected to a managed Gigabit Ethernet switch using Intel Gigabit network cards.
Both servers were running the Windows Server 2012 (64-Bit) operating system and VirtualBox v4.3.30 (64-Bit) has been installed on one of the servers hosting all the tested guest virtual machines. All guest operating systems were configured to use 2 CPUs, 2 GB of system memory and a virtual Intel Gigabit Ethernet network card.
Network performance tests were performed using the DiskBoss internal network benchmark tool, which is capable of measuring the network performance using a number of parallel TCP/IP streams and different transfer data blocks. An initial network performance test has been performed between the two physical servers and then completely identical network performance tests were performed between the first physical server and each guest virtual machine running on the second server.
Each virtual machine has been tested separately and no other applications were running on the physical server during the network performance test. All tests were performed twice: with the first test sending 10 GB of data to the target virtual machine and the second test receiving 10 GB of data from the target virtual machine.
According to the performance results, newer operating systems such as Windows 8, Windows 10 and Server 2012 provide a significantly higher network performance for all types of operations. For example, Windows 10 and Server 2012 can utilize up to 95% of the network performance provided by the physical hardware platform while Windows XP and Server 2003 can utilize approximately 70% of the available network performance.
In general, the network performance greatly depends on the size of transfer data blocks and in our specific configuration the physical network performance gradually increases from 289 Mbps for 1 KB data blocks to 871 Mbps for 128 KB data blocks.
Virtual machines are even more heavily impacted by the size of network transfer blocks. For example, the efficiency of network transfer operations in the Windows 10 operating system gradually increases from 85 percent for 1 KB data blocks to 98 percent for 128 KB data blocks.
Finally, in order to investigate how different versions of VirtualBox may impact the network performance, all the quest virtual machines were retested on the same physical hardware platform using an older VirtualBox v4.1.18. As it is clear from the performance results, VirtualBox v4.3.30 is up to 20% faster in all types of network operations comparing to VirtualBox v4.1.18.
* This performance review has been prepared for information purposes only and we strongly advise you to make your own performance evaluations using your specific hardware components and datasets.