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VMWare USB Passthrough: Running Vissim in a Virtual Machine

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I bet it is not uncommon for someone to have a faint of heart at the idea of using VISSIM in a virtualized environment:

Using a virtual machine, it becomes easier and more orderly to debug and test various COM client applications, customized API DLLs and such, without messing around ordinary simulation projects . On the other hand, using a second virtual machine dedicated to traffic simulation models,  the project portfolio is organized and streamlined, while the IT administration load is simplified since a uniform work space is maintained between different modelers.

The following shows two snapshots of Vissim running inside a VMware 11.1.0 virtual machine.  In them, the Vissim instance was running smooth like a charm, without tangible performance hit, even running a 3D animation.

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VISSSIM 3D Animation in Virtual Machine

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VISSIM 2D Animation in Virtual Machine

In the above example, the hardware specification of the running computer is:

Host

  • WIN7x64
  • Intel i7-3920XM Quad Core@2.90GHz/3.1GHz
  • 32GB RAM(large host RAM will prevent frequent memory swapping)
  • Samsung 850 Pro SSD 1TB (SSD makes a big difference)

Guest

  • OS:Windows Server 2012 R2;
  • RAM: 8GB;
  • CPU: Enable the option “Virtualize Intel -VTx/EPT or AMD-V/RVI;
    • If the physical processor is enabled with EPT, this would give near native performance;
  • Graphic 3D and Graphic Memory setting as follows:

Virtual Machine Graphics Setting

The following is useful tips for improving Guest performance.

Add the following 3 lines in C:\ProgramData\VMware\VMware Workstation\settings.ini;

  • mainMem.useNamedFile = “FALSE”

This would disable the on-disk memory-swap file *.vmem, while forcing the virtual memory to be backed up by the host swap space. This means, if the host has enough physical RAM (e.g., 32GB),  all nominal guest-RAM will be allocated in host-memory hence improves performance.

  • MemTrimRate = “0”

This would disable memory page trimming. Memory trimming will return unused virtual machine memory to the host machine. By disabling such, the I/O is saved and will improve performance especially if the host is short of RAM.

  • scsi0:0.virtualSSD =  1

This is to explicitly let Guest OS know the virtual disk is SSD.

In order for the guest OS to see the hardware dongle,  the so-called USB Passthrough feature of VMWare is needed.  Of course, if the license is a network one, then this is a non issue – as long as the CodeMeter license server is configured , and the guest OS’ firewall set up properly.

To use USB Passthrough feature of VMWare, make sure the following services are enabled, or alternatively, make sure they are not disabled (See following figure) 💡 :

  • VMware Authorization Service
  • VMware USB Arbitration Service

 

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VMware Servivces Required for USB Passthrough

With the USB dongle plugged in the host’s USB port,  let go the “passthrough” by checking the “WIBU-Systems CodeMeter-Stick”, under VM->Removable Device.

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Connect the “Passthrough” CodeMeter Key in Virtual Machine

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