The addition of Sun’s VirtualBox to the virtualization options scene for Mac OS X is a welcome sign. There is no doubt about it–more competition in a area like this is a very good thing. Especially if you are a Mac user working in the CAD world.
Unlike the overall 3D market, the CAD market is still–regretfully–intensely Windows-based. Mac users have been crying out for numerous applications for years, such as SolidWorks, AutoCAD, ProE, Revit, and the list goes on. To the benefit of having a Windows CAD inside your Mac is strong–even if it must live inside Windows itself.
Sun’s latest VirtualBox 2.1.4 now supports Intel’s VT-x hardware virtualization. This means it taps the specific hardware on the latest Intel x86 microprocessors which allows these chips to do virtualization of operating systems.
The new version of VirtualBox 2.1.4 also gains two features useful to running PC-based CAD apps on your Mac. The first of these is support for OpenGL. Currently this support is in a type of beta mode and is therefore installs in “off mode” but is easy to turn back on. The second feature is 64-bit support. This is less important for those running CAD apps on the Mac in virtualized environments.
Sun’s VirtualBox may be lagging its main competitors Parallels and VMware’s Fusion but it has one powerful feature in its arsenal: it’s free! This likely means that development will continue to lag unless Sun deems the development of VirtualBox very important.