The inclusion of “XP Mode” in Windows 7 is great news, the ability to run legacy apps inside the Windows 7 desktop is going to allow so many more people to upgrade to Microsoft’s awesome new Desktop OS. There is however, one pre-requisite that might mean that not everyone can use this new feature-and that is the need for Hardware Assisted Virtualization (HAV) which is a property of the physical processor.
Intel call this Intel-VT(x) and AMD call it AMD-V and it is tricky because not all processors include this feature. Certainly most (if not all) processors older than 3-4 years won’t be HAV capable and it seems there are still some CPU’s available now that don’t have it. I have seen on blogs (Gizmodo/Engadget etc) and heard from co-workers and the like that finding which processors are compatible can be quite difficult so below is my attempt to clarify the situation. I would like to point out that I’m purely software so CPU’s aren’t my forte-thus if you see any errors/omissions in the below, please let me know :-)
Intel Processors that support HAV:
Intel’s site is really rather good with great feature comparison charts for all their processors. I’ve made an Excel sheet (which I then had to convert in to a .ppt for WordPress) showing which do/don’t support Intel-VT which is here. Intel’s page is here.
AMD Processors that support HAV:
AMD’s site isn’t anywhere near as good and I had a tough time finding much useful info. The AMD-V page contained this:
and Wikipedia says:
“AMD-V operates on AMD Athlon 64and Athlon 64 X2 with family “F” or “G” on socket AM2 (not 939), Turion 64 X2, Opteron 2nd generation and 3rd-generation, Phenom, and all newer processors. Sempron processorsdo not include support for AMD-V.
On May 23, 2006, AMD released the Athlon 64 (“Orleans”), the Athlon 64 X2 (“Windsor”)and the Athlon 64 FX (“Windsor”)as the first AMD processors to support AMD-V. Prior processors do not have AMD-V.”
If anyone can shed any more definitive light on the AMD chips, please let me know.
**Update** I’ve got some more info and resources to help see if you can benefit from XP Mode.
I don’t know which Processor I have:
Not to worry, the document I put together above tells you which processors support Intel-VT and this link tells you if the CPU in your machine is one of those :-)
Just download the small app and run it to find out if your Intel chip supports VT.
XP Mode still isn’t working:
Hardware Assisted Virtualization isn’t as straightforward as it perhaps could be, so there’s quite possibly one more step you need to take even if your CPU supports it. Often, HAV is turned off in the BIOS by default and so needs to be activated before you can start. This isn’t the same for every PC so Microsoft have put together some general instructions for Dell, HP & Lenovo here. (The AMD CPU Checker should also be available via that link but it’s not currently working for me).
As you can see, the vast majority of Intel chips that will be in use do support hardware assisted virtualization, and thus Windows 7 XP Mode, but it’s best to check to make sure.
If you find your processor doesn’t support HAV, I’d strongly recommend getting a new CPU/machine that does so you can fully take advantage of the new features of Windows 7.
I hope that helps :-)