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Improving Yosemite VM performance in VMware Fusion

December 13, 2014 16 comments

Being able to virtualize OS X with VMware Fusion has been a great tool for Mac admins, as it allows them to test out new workflows and configurations before committing them to actual Macs. To go along with the convenience, there can be a performance trade-off between VMs and physical Macs, but it’s usually been one where assigning adequate RAM and processors to the VMware Fusion VM usually resulted in decent performance in the VM.

This changed with Yosemite, where the graphics performance in a VM was sluggish and assigning more RAM and processors to a VM did not address the issue. Even ensuring that the VMware Tools were installed did not markedly improve performance. I also saw redraw issue involving windows that had been in the background and hidden behind other windows. These windows were not redrawing correctly when they were selected and brought to the foreground, resulting in parts of windows showing up as being transparent.

On investigation, the root cause of the issue was beam synchronization, which is a technique first introduced in 10.4.x to better handle screen redraw and allow OS X’s window management process to be more efficient. Beam synchronization works fine on Yosemite when running on actual machines, but it is apparently a significant issue when running in a VMware VM.

Fortunately, the answer to the problem is relatively simple – disable beam synchronization. Once that’s done, the performance of an OS X VM running 10.10.x improves dramatically. However, there were two hitches:

  1. The way to disable it was to use Apple’s Quartz Debug developer tool.
  2. You had to disable it on every login.

QuartzDebug_beam_sync_off_Yosemite

Enter BeamOff, an application designed to do one thing – disable beam synchronization. For more details, see below the jump.

Read more…

Categories: Mac OS X, VMware
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