Tutorial for passing through a Nvidia RTX graphics card to a Windows 10 virtual machine using a modified VBIOS
Recently I replaced my old NEC MultiSync 2690 HD screen for a HP DreamColor wide gamut screen with a 2560 x 1440 pixel resolution. The Nvidia GTX 970 GPU I used, though still perfectly capable at HD resolution, is likely to get challenged by higher resolutions. Moreover, the new Nvidia Studio driver doesn’t support models before the Geforce 1000 series, and I do want the 30 bpp (bit-per-pixel) support that this driver provides. Time for an upgrade – the Gigabyte RTX 2070 Super GPU.
I’ve already written a detailed tutorial on Windows 10 kvm VGA passthrough based on QEMU version 2.11. Years have passed and recent distributions like Ubuntu 20.04, Linux Mint 20, or Manjaro come with QEMU 4.0, 4.2 or 5.1.
It wasn’t easy this time. Don’t get me wrong – the VFIO passthrough part, though challenging in some ways, went quite well. All in all I’m pleased now with the results. Here the Passmark 9.0 benchmark as uploaded onto their database (for more details, click the frame below):
Qemu/kvm provides you with a plethora of ways to configure your storage devices. Yet no other type of device shows such a variance in its performance, with disk I/O throughput anywhere from stellar to abysmal using the very same hardware.
I’m running Linux Mint 18.3 which is based on Ubuntu 16.04 Xenial. Until yesterday I used the Personal Packet Archive ppa:jacob/virtualisation to get more up-to-date releases of Qemu, libvirt, and virt-manager.
For some years I have encouraged benchmarking of Windows virtual machines (VM), to help users fine-tune the configuration and to get a general idea of how efficient virtualisation with Xen or KVM actually is. My benchmarks – posted under the username “powerhouse” – and those of other users can be found on the Linux Mint forum under Post your Passmark results of your Windows VM and UserBenchmark – post your results. When reviewing some of my benchmarks on the UserBenchmark website, it occurred to me that the information on that website can be put to practical use.