What is SVM Mode in BIOS? (The Basic Guide)

Lindsay Hayes

If you see SVM mode in your computer's BIOS settings, it stands for Secure Virtual Machine mode. If you run virtual machines (VMs) on your computer, enabling SVM mode would essentially give that VM more direct access to your PC's hardware. This ultimately means it offers your virtual machine better performance.

I find it helpful to dig around through settings on any of your devices because this can reveal helpful features that you wouldn't have found otherwise. This was how I learned about SVM mode, and as someone who uses virtual machines very frequently, I turned it on and learned absolutely everything I could about it.

So, if you're wondering what the SVM mode in BIOS is and how you can take advantage of it, you're in the right spot. Let's get straight into what you need to know.


What is SVM Mode in BIOS Used for?

SVM mode in your motherboard's BIOS stands for Secure Virtual Machine mode.

SVM mode is found only on motherboards that use AMD CPUs and is AMD's take on virtualization technology. It may also be called AMD-V in some cases.

What SVM mode and other forms of virtualization technology do on your computer is quite interesting. If you're someone who messes around with virtual machines, then it is the kind of feature that was made for you.

A virtual machine has to tap into the host machine's hardware resources by pulling them from the operating system that it is hosted on. This means it only has indirect access to the computer's hardware.

Person Working on Laptop with Multiple Screens

When a virtual machine isn't able to access hardware directly, there will be a pretty significant performance penalty.

However, when you turn SVM mode in BIOS on, it gives that virtual machine direct access to the computer's hardware. Your virtual machine will no longer need to go through the host operating system to access the RAM, CPU, GPU, and so on.

This means that your virtual machine will have a much higher performance ceiling than before. So, if you use virtual machines frequently, this can be a game changer.

Where Do I Find SVM Mode in the BIOS?

If this sounds exciting to you, you'll probably want to enable SVM mode right away. But where exactly do you find SVM mode in BIOS, and how do you get there?

Open the BIOS

Before you can enable SVM mode, the first thing that you'll need to do is open the BIOS.

This step sounds basic enough, but what makes it tricky is that there is still no universal button used to launch the BIOS when a computer is booting up. It all depends on the specific motherboard manufacturer.

You can check to see if there's a little bit of text that states which button to use, on the screen where the manufacturer logo appears.

If not, try to use the "Del" key or "F2", as these are the likely choices.

Find the Advanced CPU Configuration Settings

Well, once you've entered the bios of an AMD motherboard, the layout varies, once again, depending on the manufacturer.

The good thing is that the layout is roughly similar. The first menu you want to look out for is the "Advanced" one. On some Asus motherboards, you might need to press F7 to enter "Advanced Mode".

Once you're in the Advanced settings, look out for "CPU Configuration" or "CPU Settings".

And just like that, if your computer supports it, you should find SVM mode in BIOS waiting to be toggled in this menu. Keep in mind that you might see it listed as AMD-V, but they are the same thing.

Enable SVM mode here, and that's it. Save your BIOS settings, usually using F10 or F12, and you're good to go.

Is There a Secure Virtual Machine Mode Equivalent for Intel PCs?

SVM Mode sounds like a whole lot of fun if you use virtual machines very frequently, but from the sounds of things, this is only available on AMD boards.

Is there any Intel virtualization technology that you can use instead of needing an AMD board?

Well, there certainly is! Intel calls its hardware virtualization tech "Intel VT-x", or simply just "Intel Virtualization".

The good thing is that Intel Virtualization works pretty much the same as AMD Secure Virtual Machine, giving the same performance boost to virtualization software.

Once you're in the Advanced settings of your BIOS, you'll likely see the option to enable virtualization somewhere.

Person Using MacBook Air

Why Does My Computer Not Have SVM Mode?

If you don't see SVM mode in the BIOS of your motherboard, the likeliest reason is that it is not an AMD board. This means that you will likely find this hardware virtualization tech under a different name entirely.

However, it is important to under that virtualization technology like SVM mode is not a software feature. It needs to be explicitly supported by your PC hardware, particularly the motherboard and the processor.

Although most modern motherboards support virtualization, if you don't see SVM mode or Intel VT-x anywhere in your BIOS settings, you might just have a mobo that doesn't have that capability.

You can always Google your mobo's model number and check the spec sheet to be certain.

What Exactly is a Virtual Machine (VM)?

Virtual machines might seem like a bit of a daunting topic, but they are quite easy to understand.

A VM is essentially just a completely software-based representation of a computer. It doesn't have any hardware parts, but it is capable of running operating systems and software, storing data, networking, and so on.

Because virtual machine applications are simply programs on your main operating system, they have to be fed their hardware needs through that OS, unlike a "real" OS which would communicate and feed off hardware resources directly.

Virtualization software like AMD SVM mode and Intel Virtualization is cool because it recognizes when you're running virtual machines and provides a "secure virtual machine" environment for them to run on.

It is exactly because of this that they can get direct access to your hardware for significantly better performance.

What Are the Perks of Using a Virtual Machine?

So, it makes sense that you can use a virtual machine to run multiple operating systems on a single computer, but what is the actual use of a "virtual computer"?

Well, the average person might never need to use one of these.

However, with certain professions or interests, the appeal of virtual machines and SVM mode becomes very clear.

First off, for someone like me, I tend to have many virtual machines on a single Windows OS installation because it lets me mess around with different operating systems on a single laptop.

I can have different Linux distros and even macOS, without needing to carry more than one PC!

Man Working on the Laptop

However, for software developers, virtual machines can serve as a way to test software and experiment in a sandbox that won't touch your actual OS if things go wrong.

It can also save costs for companies since they won't need to get multiple systems for workers. A VM can host various operating systems, which can keep costs low and improve efficiency.

An Android app developer can access an Android VM through the Android Studio software. This will allow them to test apps that they are building straight from their computers, instead of needing to pull out an Android device and mess around with that.

To be honest, there are a lot of good reasons to run virtual machines and have a little bit of fun with them, but it is understandable if you don't have many applications for VMs.

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Final Words

SVM mode, or AMD-V, provides a "Secure Virtual Machine" environment for any VMs that you run in your Windows OS. Enabling virtualization gives the VM straight access to your computer's hardware, which will guarantee much better performance.

While SVM mode is only available on AMD motherboards, there is an Intel equivalent that goes by Intel VT-x or Intel Virtualization. Enabling virtualization is dependent on whether your mobo supports it or not though, so always be sure to check that out.

Did this article teach you all about AMD SVM mode in your BIOS and the benefits of turning it on? If so, take a look at some of our other articles. You're bound to learn more.

Lindsay Hayes

Hi, I’m Lindsay, a techie from Kansas City. That’s right; I’m a born and bred Midwesterner. I learned to take electronics apart at my dad’s GameStop way back when, and I haven’t stopped since. I spend most of my time checking out new gadgets.
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