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VirtualBox 5.1 promises better multi-CPU performance, wider hardware support

13 July 2016, Nick Peers

VirtualBoxOracle has released VirtualBox 5.1, a major new point release of its open-source virtual machine tool for Windows, Mac and Linux. The software enables users to run virtual PCs within a software environment.

Version 5.1 comes with the promise of improved performance, improved bug reporting and logging, wider support for different USB devices, multi-channel audio, flash storage emulation and better integration into Linux.

Version 5.1’s headline new feature is “significantly” improved performance for multi-CPU virtual machines as well as networking operations. This has been achieved through new Advanced Programmable Interrupt Controller (APIC) and I/O APIC implementations.

VirtualBox 5.1

Improved performance is the most visible change in VirtualBox 5.1.

The new release also adds a brand new Bug Reporting Tool, which is able to collect all the information and logs related to both host and guest operating systems, making it easier to analyse and debug problems. This is accompanied by an improved Logging Window, with new logging features to highlight and filter information related to guests.

VirtualBox 5.1 also adds High Definition Audio support for newer Linux guests. Other audio improvements see new on-demand timers that should boost performance while reducing CPU usage, plus finer control of the volume control in AC’97 emulation mode.

The latest build also promises better support for different USB devices, implements a new NVMHCI-compatible storage controller that can be used to emulate flash-based devices, and adds support for booting from USB devices to the EFI.

VirtualBox 5.1 also improves its Linux integration through the use of automatic modules deployment in case of Linux Kernel upgrades, plus better system integration for later releases of popular Linux distributions.

Users also gain the ability to choose where a VM is stored during the VM creation wizard, while the Detach UI action has been added to the VM Machine menu. The update is rounded off by a number of bugfixes, including the fixing of the location of touch events in unscaled HiDPI mode.

VirtualBox 5.1 is available now as a free, open-source download for Windows, Mac and Linux. Also available is the VirtualBox Extension Pack 5.1, a free-for-personal-use addition that extends the functionality of VirtualBox to support USB 2.0/3.0 as well as other extra features.

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