Hydra Multi OS Gaming Console and Controller

Posted by Paul Braren on Apr 4 2015 in
  • GPU
  • ESXi
  • Virtualization
  • HomeServer
  • Over the years, I've had many inquiries at TinkerTry about the use of GPUs in virtualization, with ways to get a single CPU to have multiple gaming "heads," using the ESXi hypervisor. These Disqus comments date back to 2011, when I had discovered that ASRock and MSI worked with VT-d pass through. Going further with gaming ventures were never a focus for me, since I had created a dedicated gZilla instead, since it needed to travel.

    Hey, ain't I the guy that just got finished telling folks that are new to VMware ESXi something about the local display?

    Little secret those new to virtualization often miss - ESXi 6.0 continues to be mostly headless, just as it was for all prior VMware hypervisor releases

    Well, with some creativity, that sure ain't always the case. Meet Eric Mockler, with the amuzing hackaday profile tags:



    So here we are, years later, and I come across his Google+ post today. Imagine my surprise when I spotted the rather familiar Realtek 8111E trickery needed to get those NICs working on ASRock VT-d friendly motherboard. Yes, Eric has come up with a way to create what he calls the Hydra Multi OS Gaming Console & Controller, a nice write up where he describes this little beast:

    This is a game console sized Hydra with a single GPU, running SteamOS, Win7 & Android x86 KitKat. Gameplay & mgmt via modular controller.

    This project solves multiple problems facing the new x86 console gaming initiatives by Valve, Nvdiia, and Alienware. Most obviously, it would require 3 boxes to cover all the gaming options that x86 gaming promises.

    So I couldn't resist sharing this rather unique use case for the free ESXi hypervisor that you may not have heard of. Admittedly, it's a bit outside what you'd typically tackle for home server use cases. Let's be honest here. Isn't it fun to see the envelope pushed a bit, as far as what can be done with affordable gear?

    This projects seems to be some sort of roll-your-own multi-OS Steam Machine variant, on steroids. This project isn't as far-fetched as it sounds. Remember, the Xbox One also uses virtualization to run 3 operating systems.

    Here's Eric's full article, with all the details. Enjoy!

    Hydra Multi OS Gaming Console & Controller


    See also at TinkerTry

    Superguide: Z68 Sandybridge Motherboard VT-d Test Matrix: Which Mobo/CPU combo works with VMware ESXi 4.1U1 VMDirectPath feature??


    Previous TinkerTry articles about GPUs and virtualization: