Good folks at Intel I need your help.
As some of you may have noticed, I have been awarded last summer with a Black Belt title, and I got a very nice notebook as a reward. It is a Sony VAIO VGN-FW190E.
Today I wanted to use Microsoft Virtual PC on it, and I realized in awe that the hardware virtualization support is disabled.
I used Everest, CPU-Z, CrystalCPUID and my own CPU info tool to verify that the P8600 actually does support VT which of course being high-end mobile 45nm part it does.
Being geeky I disassembled Virtual PC executable to check if perhaps detection doesn't work correctly and I found no flaws.
Then I consulted document order #253669 revision 29 (Intel 64 and IA-32 Architectures Software Developer's Manual Volume 3B - System Programming Guide) and in chapter 19.7 on page 156 I found that VT is controlled by MSR 0x3A bits 0, 1, and 2. I checked the contents of the MSR using CrystalCPUID MSR Editor tool and the value is 0x00000000 00000001, meaning that the VT has been disabled and the register locked.
After rebooting into BIOS I found no option to Enable/Disable VT. It is hardcoded as disabled.
I have spent two hours in chat with Sony Support. I got the following responses:
That KB article basically says that Intel VT is "currently" (since October 2008) not supported on VAIO notebooks.
2. Igor, as the Virtualization Technology is not supported, it is not possible to use the Hardware Virtualization.
In my opinion, this is giving Intel Corporation a bad name. I have Intel's latest and greatest mobile platform with not only VT but VT2 support which I cannot use simply because someone at Sony has been an incompetent cheapskate when they were configuring the BIOS modules.
3. This issue needs extensive communication. So, I suggest that you contact our Hotline Support team at 1-888-476-6972.
Well it is obvious that I can't make long distance call from Serbia and spend an hour listening to cheap elevator music until someone answers the phone and then spend another hour attempting to explain the technical nitty-gritty as I am being repeatedly told that "it is not supported".
4. BIOS updates will be released only if there are any known issues with the Computer.
Well, if this isn't a known issue then why it exists in their knowledge base? D'oh! Needless to say, BIOS is dated February 27th, 2008 so it probably doesn't even have recent microcode updates as well.
5. I suggest that you bookmark our Sony support site 'Drivers and Softwares' page to check for the latest updates.
Yeah, right. The only problem is that nowhere does it say on Sony's website "we are working on an update".
6. Igor, it is clearly mentioned that Sony VAIO computers do not currently support Virtualization Technology (VT).
Yes in the KB article dated October 27th, 2008.
No on the Sony Style website where the notebook has been ordered back in August 2008. Time travel not yet invented.
7. In this case, I suggest that you contact our Customer Information and Service Center to place and request. Dissatisfied customers and policy issues are handled by our Customer Information and Service Center.
Ok, so I will send an email, some developer will get it and all will be fine right? Bzzzt... Wrong!
8. Igor, I am sorry to inform you that, Telephone support is the only way to contact our Customer Information and Service Center.
Phone... again... this time I would need to call 1-239-768-7669 but I can't because...
9. In this case, you will be charged.
Well if I have to make an international call, isn't it obvious that I will be charged? D'oh!
Now, what this long (and hopefully at least a bit funny) rant tries to convey is that OEMs (not just Sony, other notebook manufacturers too) are damaging Intel's corporate image in this way.
How can I develop on Intel platform for Intel Platform using VT when I can't even turn it on?
I really need someone from Intel to help me with this issue.
Some manager on Intel Virtualization team who will pick up the phone, call a Sony representative, verbally wound his behind, rub some salt in, and demand a BIOS update A.S.A.P to be released to the customers. Or just politely ask -- whichever way works better.
Please folks, there is no one else who can resolve this!
Intel Black Belt