CPU virtualization adds varying amounts of overhead depending on the workload and the type of virtualization used.

An application is CPU-bound if it spends most of its time executing instructions rather than waiting for external events such as user interaction, device input, or data retrieval. For such applications, the CPU virtualization overhead includes the additional instructions that must be executed. This overhead takes CPU processing time that the application itself can use. CPU virtualization overhead usually translates into a reduction in overall performance.

For applications that are not CPU-bound, CPU virtualization likely translates into an increase in CPU use. If spare CPU capacity is available to absorb the overhead, it can still deliver comparable performance in terms of overall throughput.

ESXi supports up to 128 virtual processors (CPUs) for each virtual machine.

Note: Deploy single-threaded applications on uniprocessor virtual machines, instead of on SMP virtual machines that have multiple CPUs, for the best performance and resource use.

Single-threaded applications can take advantage only of a single CPU. Deploying such applications in dual-processor virtual machines does not speed up the application. Instead, it causes the second virtual CPU to use physical resources that other virtual machines could otherwise use.