Low battery life with VMware running

phaedarus

macrumors regular
Original poster
Dec 27, 2008
165
7
At the moment, I have only VMware installed (pending an SSD purchase) for running Linux and have noticed that the power indicator estimates a battery life of only 3 hours on a full charge.

I assume this is because the AMD 6770M is activated when VMware is running - or are all virtualisation applications that computational intensive, irrespective of whether there is a GUI or not?

For reference, I'm using a late 2011 MBP 17" with the stock configuration that includes a 7200 RPM drive with 4GB of RAM running Lion.

Thanks in advance.
 

thundersteele

macrumors 68030
Oct 19, 2011
2,984
8
Switzerland
I guess both, the GPU and the running virtual machine, play a role in sucking away your battery.

You can check with activity monitor to find out how much CPU the VM costs.
 

dusk007

macrumors 68040
Dec 5, 2009
3,389
63
I assume this is because the AMD 6770M is activated when VMware is running - or are all virtualisation applications that computational intensive, irrespective of whether there is a GUI or not?
No it is just Apple ridiculously stupid so called automatic switching. It turns on the dedicated GPU because in theory you could launch a Windows VM in in that VM you might want to play a 3D game. It doesn't understand the difference nor can just switch back properly when you may just want to launch a linux vm with nothing but the shell and no gui at all. It will still switch to the dedicated GPU just for displaying a linux terminal.

You have to install gfxCardStatus and forget about this so called auto switching. Always force the Intel integrated GPU unless you are going to use a program which definitely requires more GPU power or an external screen. Otherwise you just end up with an unnecessarily hot notebook and more noise.

Regardless of that VMWare has quite a bit of CPU overhead and does decrease battery life because of higher CPU load.
 

Inconsequential

macrumors 68000
Sep 12, 2007
1,975
1
No it is just Apple ridiculously stupid so called automatic switching. It turns on the dedicated GPU because in theory you could launch a Windows VM in in that VM you might want to play a 3D game. It doesn't understand the difference nor can just switch back properly when you may just want to launch a linux vm with nothing but the shell and no gui at all. It will still switch to the dedicated GPU just for displaying a linux terminal.

You have to install gfxCardStatus and forget about this so called auto switching. Always force the Intel integrated GPU unless you are going to use a program which definitely requires more GPU power or an external screen. Otherwise you just end up with an unnecessarily hot notebook and more noise.
Lets clarify this.

VMWare switches to the dedicated GPU because the switching requests it and/or uses an API which apple have set to use the dedicated. The OS does not guess what GPU should be running.

I agree however to install gfxCardStatus. However when it's plugged in set it to use automatic switching, because some apps do run better on the dedicated GPU. Esp when it comes to things like Flash in Safari.

As for battery life, that is because your running two systems with VMWare's overheads ontop of that.

So not surprising that it's not lasting as long.

Does the linux variant your running have a UI? If so I recommend using the dedicated GPU still, as things get a little stuttery otherwise.
 

maflynn

Moderator
Staff member
May 3, 2009
66,948
33,948
Boston
I'm not noticing any huge impact on battery life on my MBP (13" 2010 model) but I have 8gb of ram on an SSD. What I do notice is that cpu cycles are rather high (running windows). My guess is that the demands of VMWare are placing on the laptop could impact battery life.

Being that I have a 13" MBP which means an integrated GPU, I'm that much ahead of the game since my Mac cannot switch to the faster performing (and backing consuming) discrete GPU
 

Satnam1989

macrumors 65816
Nov 16, 2011
1,200
0
Illinois
Lets clarify this.

VMWare switches to the dedicated GPU because the switching requests it and/or uses an API which apple have set to use the dedicated. The OS does not guess what GPU should be running.

I agree however to install gfxCardStatus. However when it's plugged in set it to use automatic switching, because some apps do run better on the dedicated GPU. Esp when it comes to things like Flash in Safari.

As for battery life, that is because your running two systems with VMWare's overheads ontop of that.

So not surprising that it's not lasting as long.

Does the linux variant your running have a UI? If so I recommend using the dedicated GPU still, as things get a little stuttery otherwise.

I do not suggest you set to "automatic switching" on gfxCardStatus because say you were on integrated, then put your MBP to sleep, later plug it in which will switch to dedicated, now some apps like Skype don't play nice with graphic card switching.....which require you to quit and relaunch.....I can say that about Skype and even media players such as VLC, MplayerX and even apple's favourite QuickTime can sometimes choke when you switch from Integrated to Dedicated while the app was running.....so its best to leave it on Integrated....I use integrated ~95% of the time, I also use VMWare running Windows 7 Ultimate while on Integrated....on my 15" MBP i get about ~4Hours....because I don't do anything too intense....

If i run bootcamp/Win7 natively then I only get around 3-3.5hrs of continuous use....


Also my VMware has 2/8 that it shows(even tho yes i know its not 8cores its only 4cores but total of 8threads) and 2GB of ram dedicated out of my 8GB....soon I will be upgrading to 16GB Ram then going to dedicate 4-6GB to VMWare and leave 2/8 cores/Threads, that should give me a pretty good performance boost overall.....oh and I do not run my Win7 from my SSD, its installed as Bootcamp on a Partition on my HDD because mainly as a backup OS incase my SSD ever chokes at least I can continue my work without having a paperweight if I'm ever out of the house during that time.

hope it helps
 

bill-p

macrumors 68000
Jul 23, 2011
1,984
499
I think as mentioned, installing gfxCardStatus and switching to integrated should get a huge chunk of the battery life back. The dedicated graphics in the Late 2011 Pro's are hogs... in every sense of the word. The GPU alone is responsible for almost 30% of the whole system's load when it's in use, or a whopping 50% increase in power consumption compared to integrated.
 

ixodes

macrumors 601
Jan 11, 2012
4,429
2
Pacific Coast, USA
For work I use my 15" MBP with it's 8GB / 512 GB SSD on battery quite frequently. Running 10.6.8 / Win 7 / Linux via VWware, the battery life I experience is very good.

One's got to expect a bit of a hit whenever running any kind of virtualization, but I've found that the last 2 versions of Fusion have continued to be a little more efficient as compared to the one before. As a result this is the best experience I've had when it comes to battery life.

Perhaps I'm just biased toward both the MBP & Fusion since they do the best job for me. Reliable, stable and quite fast, in the overall scheme of things, I'm 100 % satisfied.
 

phaedarus

macrumors regular
Original poster
Dec 27, 2008
165
7
Thanks for the responses.

I've downloaded the gfxCardStatus utility and defaulted it to the integrated chipset. I will be using the CS5 suite, Maya/Modo on a regular basis so I would imagine that the dedicated GPU will see quite a bit of use. Would there be any adverse affect if I forced the dedicated GPU throughout while the MBP is plugged in?

What about reducing the amount of memory/cores allocated to VMware? Will that reduce battery drain?

Also found that my screen brightness was nearly maxed out. I've since lowered it to half and text is still perfectly viewable (matte screen). That should undoubtedly help as it did for conversing battery life on my iPhone.

If I needed to run long sessions of Linux (Gnome 64-bit), I suppose I could dual boot as required to max out battery life.
 
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