3D Hardware Acceleration not Working in VirtualBox

Under certain conditions, I have observed that 3D hardware acceleration is not working in VirtualBox 4.2.12 when running Ubuntu 13.04. It may affect other VirtualBox versions, and it may affect other guest / host OS combinations.

This problem does not affect Ubuntu 12.04 running as a guest OS.

When the Problem has been Noticed

  • VirtualBox is running on Windows 7 with SP1
  • the guest OS is Ubuntu 13.04 (32-bit)
  • only a single CPU is configured for the virtual machine
  • the underlying hardware is an AMD Quad-Core A6-3400M

Resolving the Problem

In my case, I have been able to solve the problem by configuring the virtual machine to have more than 1 CPU.

Suspicions

Initially, I thought the problem might be the VT-x/AMD-V or Nested Paging settings which are only enabled when multiple CPUs are configured for the virtual machine, but enabling then with a single CPU did not resolve the problem.

My next suspicion is that Ubuntu’s use of LLVM Pipe to provide 3D rendering may be the cause of the problem, but I don’t have time or plans to reinstall Ubuntu 12.10 to test that hypothesis.

If you are running Ubuntu 11.04 or later, you can use this check to see if 3D hardware acceleration is being used.

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