Enable VT on Sony Vaio Z11

Some time ago I posted at length about Sony’s decision to disable the Virtualization Technology features of the Intel chips in their high-end laptops, namely my Vaio Z11.

VT enabled Well thanks to the sterling efforts of one man and his EFI hacking skills, we now have a solution as this image demonstrates. The image on the left shows the result of the VMWare Virtualization Technology test CD confirming that VT is now enabled on my Vaio Z11.

I’ve mirrored his code and instructions here in case his site disappears, read more after the jump…

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Sony Vaio Z disabled (VT) Virtualization Technology

Update 30th July 2009: See this post for details of a confirmed VT fix for the Z11. I’m using it now!

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.

ZX Spectrum nostalgia

I can’t remember when I first played with a ZX Spectrum.  I know I must have come to the party relatively late since I was only 4 when it was released, unlike Chris who was old enough to have one at launch.  This weekend he rescued one from his mum’s rubbish bin, complete in the polystyrene box it originally came in and with mint condition manuals.  It even has the guarantee certificate, an unopened demo cassette and the 1982 Edition of the Sinclair Software Catalogue! Continue reading

Apple support Vista on BootCamp

Apple updated BootCamp today and introduced support for Windows Vista, so it looks like I can spend some time over the weekend doing a fresh install of Vista with supported drivers this time.  Of course it also means I get to have some fun removing the Microsoft Bluetooth stack and replacing it with a fully functional Widcom one, but them’s the breaks.  The new BootCamp introduces lots of updated drivers (including the camera on Vista) and hopefully does something about the power saving and suspend/hibernate issues.  Although they may be more to do with Vista itself rather than the MacBook Pro hardware.  We shall see…