Sony Vaio Z disabled (VT) Virtualization Technology

UPDATE: 30/07/2009

See this post for details of a confirmed VT fix for the Z11. I’m using it now!

Core 2 Duo

I love my Sony Vaio Z. It’s a wonderful bit of kit – exactly the power/portability ratio I wanted. It has enough grunt to play the odd game in “Speed” mode while giving 6 hours of battery life on wireless in stamina mode. Not to mention to gorgeous 1600×900 LED screen and the built in 3G wireless.

I have one problem with it and it’s a failing of Sony’s decision making rather than any particular problem with the kit. Sony disable the Intel Virtualization Technology in the Core 2 Duo on all their Vaio machines. I’ve seen no valid rationale for this other than “We don’t support VT on the Vaio range.” This is absurd since all the Core 2 Duo chips feature Intel Virtualization Technology and I can’t imagine how having it switched on would adversely affect Vista or XP (the two Operating Systems Sony officially supports).

If this were a consumer laptop I could understand – but it’s specifically targeted at business users. In my business I make extensive use of both Microsoft and VMWare’s virtualisation systems – both of which run much faster on hardware that has the VT functionality enabled. There are a good number of people on various forums spitting blood about this issue so I’m not the only one complaining.

There is light, of sorts, at the end of this tunnel. Since Sony have done this before on other machiens in the Vaio series, people have managed to re-enable VT by using BIOS editing tools to flip the right register. Unfortunately it requires intimate knowledge of the BIOS – knowledge that we won’t have until Sony release a BIOS update that can be reverse engineered. If we’re very lucky Sony will make amends by releasing a BIOS update that allows us to enable VT in the BIOS interface proper.

The worst part of this is that we (Vaio Z owners) didn’t know that VT was disabled until after we bought the machines. I know a number of people have returned their units and bought Toshiba or Dell machines that haven’t been crippled by the vendors. Sony advertised a Core 2 Duo Mobile processor, they didn’t mention in any literature that they’d be disabling bits of the processor for no reason.

Sony, if you’re reading this – please give us control over the entire processor and let us enable VT.

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