performance depends on the resources you allocate to your equipment. but in any case the use of hardware is always more robust in terms of performance.the hardware part allows to do some operations with dedicated asic (compression, acceleration, SSL decryption, ...):
Message from F5 (Salim): Software is the same (TMOS and modules). Obviously physical connectivity (interfaces, trunks) are not relevant in a VE environment. Performance is the major difference of course. There is a throughput limitation on VEs based on the hypervisor you are using, the TMOS version of your VE and the license you purchased.