If you just want to provide a thin layer that gives you the framework for running multiple VMs: take a look at XenClient. (http://community.citrix.com/citrixready/xenclient
It's a hypervisor that has been designed to run client operating systems.
It used to have limited hardware support
(enterprise level laptops only, Thinkpad should do) but I looked at it two versions ago and it looked really sweet.
OS based virtualisation comes in multiple flavours. It does take a performance hit because of the underlying OS that requires resources.
- Windows 8 has Hyper-V 3 build-in. It does require Intel EPT (Enhance Page Tables) to function. Graphics performance kind of sucks and the console connection is in reality some sort of RDP connection.
- Microsoft Virtual PC emulates a P3 processor, steer clear!
- VMware makes nice and polished products. You could download a trail version of Workstation and keep using Player when the trail expires. Player is a fine product comparable to VirtualBox.
- VirtualBox is a nice product that is dependent on Oracle for software updates. If they keep the development up, it won't give you problems.
- KVM has problems with hardware acceleration of graphics. Not always as easy to use due to command line configuration.
- Xen is a bit older than KVM and has a less active community, with the exception of Citrix with the XenServer/XenClient products.
VT-d is only interesting if you want to give PCI-E storage controllers to your virtual machines. (http://software.intel.com/en-us/article ... o-devices/
) Since you typically don't have RAID controllers or HBAs in your laptop that you wish to dedicate to your VM, you're probably not going to use it. Note: XenClient uses this method to give the VM complete control over the graphics card.
VT-x is the instruction set for virtualizing 64bit OSs and is common on all AMD processors and most Intel processors.
EPT reduces the load to recalculate every memory location and can make a 10% performance impact, worth having. (Intel Core i5-2450m and i5-2520m are just about equal but the 2400 series lack EPT)