The Importance of Choosing the Right USB Cable

I already wrote about my trip to Spain and Europe and choosing the camera. Traveling with the Nikon Z7 II was definitely the right choice for me. What I haven’t mentioned was that I packed the wrong USB cable.

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Passing Through a Nvidia RTX 2070 Super GPU

Tutorial for passing through a Nvidia RTX graphics card to a Windows 10 virtual machine using a modified VBIOS

Last update: September 14, 2021

Starting with the GeForce 1000 series, vfio passthrough of a Nvidia GPU has become a little more complicated. If, when starting the VM, you get a black screen, chances are you need to pass along a VBIOS file to the VM so the GPU can properly initialize.

This post is about passing through a Nvidia RTX 2070 Super GPU or any other modern Nvidia GPU to a Windows 10 guest.

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AMD Radeon 6800/6800XT for VFIO?

Up until November 18, 2020 I would have suggested against the purchase of an AMD GPU for VFIO. But yesterday AMD launched its Radeon RX 6800 line of GPUs. Are the AMD Radeon 6800/6800XT suitable for VFIO?

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Graphics Cards: AMD vs Nvidia

Updated on January 20, 2024

A question that frequently pops up in VFIO or GPU passthrough forums is which graphics card to buy: AMD or Nvidia? And the answer often depends on whom you ask.

Some people will tell you to stay clear of Nvidia graphics cards since their driver detects the virtual machine and quits.

Others mention the “reset bug” that’s been haunting AMD graphics cards for the last couple of years (see Wendells video interview of Linux kernel maintainer Greg Kroah-Hartman). So what’s the story?

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Upgrading my PC to an AMD Ryzen 9 3900X System

Introduction

I’ve been contemplating a PC upgrade for more than a year (see my post here). At first I considered staying with Intel and getting an i9-9900K CPU with integrated GPU on a Z390 motherboard.

Along came the AMD Ryzen 9 3900X that topped the benchmarks, including the Adobe Lightroom and Photoshop benchmarks (to be precise, it ranked #4 in the Adobe Lightroom benchmark, and a narrow #1 in the Adobe Photoshop benchmark). These good news about the AMD Ryzen 3900X were soon followed by reports about BIOS issues and VFIO incompatibility. At the very least, it looked like VGA passthrough was more challenging.

Then I read Bryan Steiner’s GPU passthrough tutorial for the AMD Ryzen 9 3900X and an Ubuntu-based Pop!_OS Linux host. Several users on the VFIO Reddit forum reported successful VFIO VGA passthrough with the AMD Ryzen 9.

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Hardware upgrade or what’s holding me back?

More than a year has passed since I’ve posted about building a new PC. So what is holding me back from the upgrade? Time and money are considerations, but not the reason.

On paper, the AMD Ryzen 9 has outperformed Intel in most if not all tasks. The Ryzen 9 3900X beats the Intel i9 9900K as well as the Intel i9 10900X in multi-threaded workloads. The Intel i9 9900K can barely hold its ground on single-threaded tasks. Numerous benchmarks have shown that AMD is a clear winner.

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GPU Passthrough with Low-End Intel i3-6100 CPU

For some time I wanted to run a kvm virtual machine with GPU passthrough on a low-end Asus H110M-K D3 motherboard with an i3-6100 CPU and an Nvidia GTX 1060 GPU, but never found the time. Now I finally had a chance to give it a try. While the preparations were easy, I ran into a problem when starting the Windows 10 VM:

Jan 22 15:21:24 alon-i3 kernel: [  108.514992] vfio_pin_pages_remote: RLIMIT_MEMLOCK (16777216) exceeded

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New PC Build

Back in 2012 I built a PC around the Intel i7 3930K 6-core/12HT processor which I have been using ever since. While it’s still a strong PC, especially with the upgrades (GPU, SSD) I made, I’m starting to feel that editing photos isn’t as snappy as it used to be. I am also curious in how well the new generation of CPUs lend themselves to VGA passthrough. In short, I’m considering building a new PC.

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Memory Failure

I did some overclocking (to 4.2 GHZ) and gave the CPU and memory a trial using Prime95 and other torture tests. Later, much later, I realized that part of my memory was gone!

Checking the BIOS showed memory failures of two of 8 modules, reducing my total to 24GB. I’m not sure it was the overclocking, the torture tests or simply old age (the PC and memory is 6 years old). The funny thing was that I could boot into Linux and run some applications, and whenever I used Firefox I would sooner or later get a freeze. I monitored the processes and saw that the kswapd demon was busy. It took me a little to grasp that I had “lost” memory.

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Prime95 Benchmark: Linux Host versus Windows VM

This is yet another benchmark of my Windows 10 VM. This time I used the free Mersenne Prime Search software Prime95 (mprime under Linux) available at www.mersenne.org. I wanted to see if there is a significant difference between running the benchmark on the Linux host, versus the Windows virtual machine.

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