PAPITopics:PAPI on VMware
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ESXi provides guest OS virtual performance counters.


  1. ESXi version must be 5.1 or higher.
  2. Virtual CPU Performance Counters must be enabled in the VM settings.
  3. Guest OS must be running Linux Kernel 2.6.32 or higher.
  4. Intel Nehalem Generation (Xeon Core i7) or later processor or AMD Opteron Generation 3 ("Greyhound") or later processor is installed.
  5. Intel VT-x or AMD-V is enabled in the BIOS so that hardware-assisted virtualization is possible.

VM Settings

Please refer to the vSphere documentation on how to enable virtual cpu performance counters using the vSphere Web Client. Instructions are duplicated below:


  • Verify that the virtual machine is turned off.
  • Required Privileges: Virtual machine.Configuration.Settings is set on the vCenter Server system.


  1. Right-click the virtual machine and select Edit Settings.
    1. To locate a virtual machine, select a datacenter, folder, cluster, resource pool, host, or vApp.
    2. Click the Related Objects tab and click Virtual Machines.
  2. On the Virtual Hardware tab, expand CPU and enable virtualized CPU performance counters.
  3. Click OK.

Installing PAPI

Pick up a tarball from our download page. Please refer to README.txt and INSTALL.txt in the root directory for instructions on compiling PAPI on your system. Note that no special flags should be required for running on the virtual machine. Proceed with building as if on a bare metal machine.

vMotion Caveat

If you are using vMotion, be aware that according to this VMWare kb article vMotion will only migrate virtual machine hosts between machines which have the same list of available performance monitoring events.


Check out PAPITopics:Virtual PAPI Performance for comparisons of event counts on VMware and bare metal.