Wishing for Virtualization
While the software has always my main area of expertise, this week my adventures took me in a slightly different direction. This summer, a small group of my friends began to either upgrade or build PC gaming rigs, and as a result, I ended up dipping my toes back into the world of computer hardware.
Intel Core-i3 != Powerful
A couple of years ago I built myself a custom PC, not with the intent to game, but rather to create a Hackintosh that I could use for software development. Being strapped for cash, the computer I ended up creating was mostly a result of the deals on PC parts that year’s Black Friday. This meant that even though my computer performed the functions that I needed it to, it wasn’t even that powerful at the time. Now with my computer being a couple of years out of date, it doesn’t quite have the horsepower for future projects that I would like to undertake, so this week I ended up taking a little bit oftime to spec out a rig that would suit my needs.
After accidentally wiping my drive, I finally made the choice to switch the Linux (Kubuntu to be more specific). While I do enjoy the customizability of the operating system, Linux’s lack of compatiablity with a variety of software has made me long for the days when I daily drove macOS. While I do have Windows dual-booted on my drive, it is always a pain to restart the system in order to perform even the most basic of tasks.
Earlier through LTT I had learned about the ability of Linux to perform hardware virtualization that would allow me to run both Linux and Windows at almost full speed by taping into dedicated hardware components rather than running an emulator on top of my hardware. I know that for me this would be a great solution, the only problem is that my current system doesn’t have the horsepower to support this kind of operation. The first issue is that I run a dual-core system, meaning that if I virtualized my system, each OS would only have a single core to work with. The second issue was that for most cases you need a second graphics card, and while I have one laying around, it is an Nvidia 8800GT from 10 years ago. The final issue with me attempting to virtualize my system is that I don’t really have the storage available to do so.
Keeping all of these problems in mind, I took off to pcparkpicker.com in order to create a new system that could run a Linux and Windows machine at the same time.
The entire system build can be viewed here, but I will list all of the new parts that I would acquire below.
- Ryzen 3700x
- 32gb Trident Z RGB RAM @3600mhz
- RTX 2060 Super
- Crucial 1TB SSD
CPU and RAM
The CPU that I choose for the build is an 8-core Ryzen 7. I choose this processor for two main reasons. The first is that AMD’s 3rd generation Ryzen CPUs are not only dominating Intel when it comes to workstation tasks, but they are also doing it at a lower price. The second reason is that using an 8-core CPU means that I can dedicate 4 cores to my Linux system, and the other 4 cores to my Windows system. This processor would then be paired with 32gb of RAM in order to ensure that each “system” had more than enough memory. Effectively this setup would create two separate “systems” that each have a quad-core processor and 16gb of RAM.
In order to support this virtualization initiative, my computer would end up being outfitted with two graphics cards. I would be buying a brand new RTX 2060 Super, to pair with my current system’s GTX 1060 3gb. The Windows machine virtual machine would get hardware virtualization access to the RTX 2060s so I could use it for gaming, while my Linux install would run my GTX 1060.
Even though my system is currently outfitted with an SSD, it is only a 240gb drive that is used for boot while I keep another 1TB HDD in my system for larger files such as games. The idea would be to add a 1TB SSD to the system that could be used to not only store what would be my main Windows VM, but also other VMs such as macOS in order to widen the amount of application that I could run.
As of now, this list of PC parts is purely conceptual, and likely not going to be built anytime soon. Even though this week took a bit of a turn compared to what I normally do, I figured that I would a least share.