This friend of mine, new to Linux (and very satisfied with his new OS), needs to run Matlab for his day to day work. The Linux version they've got available in his department lacks some toolboxes he uses, and wine doesn't work that well for this program. I was thinking that he could do with a virtual machine, since that's what I do for a couple of applications for which I haven't found any replacement. The difference is that he'll be doing much more CPU intensive tasks so the performance hit has to be small for it to be worth not dual booting.

My own experience, with a CPU lacking the virtualization extensions, is that VirtualBox runs better than Qemu+kqemu, although it becomes a bit slow when demanding heavy tasks. Also, I don't know how well it sqeezes the capabilities of modern processors like his. Benchmarks out there seem to indicate that Xen is a beast...Has anybody some direct experience in running a virtual machine for intensive tasks? Could you give me a suggestion as to what virtualization solution would run faster with current hardware?