VT-d support on both the CPU and Motherboard/Bios and gaming grade graphics card for GPGPU and 3d graphics development and testing and Pentesting/Information Security in virtual machines
Project Sputnik should have VT-d support out of the box built in to both the CPU and the Motherboard/Bios to allow PCI Passthrough in virtual machines. It should also include a gaming grade GPU (preferably defaulting with a mid-upper range dedicated AMD Radeon card with the option of a dedicated mid-upper range Nvidia Geforce card (with Quadro as an optional choice) in order to support CUDA and PhysX and preferably at least upper mid range) to allow for development of things such as games and other tools that use the GPU, including GPU Compute tools that use OpenCL and Cuda. This goes hand in hand with the PCI passthrough in order to support testing projects in virtual machines, such as a Windows virtual machine using KVM or Xen that require the GPU, such as games and tools that use GPGPU compute. I have been searching for a laptop that meets these requirements for a while, and have not had any real luck, even from Alienware, as the Alienware laptops use a motherboard and Bios that does not support VT-d, so even with a CPU that supports VT-d, it still will not support it as the motherboard and Bios also requires VT-d for that functionality to be enabled.
This would come in useful in (but not limited to) the following situations:
- Security/Pentesting: Usually a pentester would run a Backtrack Linux Virtual Machine during a pentest, rather than actually physically install the OS on their hard drive, and in situations where you need to crack a password, GPGPU tools using a gaming level GPU will exponentially speed up the process by factors of 50 or more compared to a CPU alone. This would also come in useful for developing security tools that use the GPU. As a slight example, in a recent test, I managed to crack a WPA key in 13 seconds using a GTX 570 and CUDA, while it ran for almost half an hour without managing to crack the same key on a dual core CPU. See https://mytechencounters.wordpress.com/2011/04/03/gpu-password-cracking-crack-a-windows-password-using-a-graphic-card/ for more information regarding the difference between CPU and GPU password cracking.
- GPGPU application development: With languages such as CUDA, OpenCL, DirectCompute, and C++ AMP beginning to become more widely used, it becomes difficult to test on multiple platforms when you constantly have to reboot in order to test on various flavors of Linux or Windows. Using VT-d and a gaming grade graphics card, you can run a virtual machine to test the GPGPU functionality in, rather than have to reboot in to a different operating system for each platform.
- Game and 3d application development: When developing 3d applications such as games or tools that use 3d graphics, it is required to test on a variety of platforms, such as Windows, and various flavors of Linux. Normally you would have to reboot in order to select a dual or multi boot to test these various operating systems, however with VT-d on both the CPU and Motherboard, and a gaming grade graphics card, you would be able to launch a virtual machine to test in using KVM or Xen and use PCI Passthrough to access the GPU in the VM as though it was the host operating system. This would both save time, and cause less hassle.
- Gamers who want to use Linux as a main OS and game in a virtual machine: VT-d being fully supported, along with a gaming grade GPU would allow gamers who want to run Linux as a main operating system to use a Windows VM inside of Linux to game without requiring a reboot. This would both decrease frustration, and increase productivity. It may also help boost the Linux userbase slightly as you would have less need to have Windows as your main OS if you want to play games, as you can just boot a VM in Linux to do it, instead of having to reboot. Note that this is also something that may want to be considered with Alienware laptops as well.