By John G. Spooner  |  Posted 2006-06-02 Print this article Print

-Mode Computer"> AMD also envisions a split-mode computer consisting of two pieces—one, a mobile device not unlike an ultramobile PC, and another that also serves as a dock for its mobile half—that allows users to take their data with them between meetings or even on the road and plug into conference rooms and other areas, when necessary. AMDs vision of the partitioning approach would keep applications and some data storage local but contain them within a work-only partition and not allow workers to load other software or access other parts of a given PC.
On the flip side, AMD envisions the use of virtualization to install a work-only partition on any PC, allowing access to work software only from that area on a machine. "IT could ask you to bring your own computing device to work. Thats not too far-fetched. The IT role there is to provide a partition," Seyer said. "In the next five years I could see that happening."
Raiden will dovetail with Trinity, a second new technology initiative introduced by AMD on June 1 thats designed to help boost PC manageability and security. The two are rooted strongly in virtualization, technology that makes it possible to divide up a computers resources, allowing multiple software instances to run on the machine simultaneously. AMD has added virtualization capabilities directly into its chip just as Margaret Lewis, director of commercial solutions for AMD, said virtualization is becoming an enabler for new technologies that would otherwise be more difficult or outright impossible to offer in PCs or other types of computers. To that end, AMD is designing Trinity to allow AMD partners to harness virtualization by offering them the keys to locking down aspects of their systems to increase their manageability along with a programming interface thats open enough to integrate into their existing tools. "You dont start talking about security without virtualization, and you dont talk about virtualization without the question of manageability," Lewis said. "Once you make virtual machines, the question is how you manage them, then security comes back into play. What we find is almost a chicken and an egg" situation. Locking down the guest OS begins with the hardware, and specifically with AMDs virtualization-aware Direct Connect memory controllers, Lewis said. Trinitys genesis is a technology called Enhanced Virus Protection, a feature AMD first introduced into the Athlon64 series of desktop microprocessors. EVP allows the OS to call out certain sections of memory that were prohibited from running code. Trinity will take this a step further, providing this capability to management processors controlling the virtualized machines, Lewis said. AMD is also participating in the Open Platform Management Architecture, a standard for allowing companies like Peppercon, for example, to develop sophisticated KVM (keyboard/video/mouse) devices. The gear can allow computers to be accessed remotely. While he admits that realization of some of the companys ideas might take time, AMD is already working with some end customers and it is also readying many of the building blocks needed to create new types of client devices, Seyer said. AMD also unveiled on June 1 a virtualization tool kit, which it will offer to PC makers who wish to add partitions to their PCs for management and other purposes. It has also announced plans to deliver a new line of low-power processors, designed for small desktops and PC-alternative designs. Of course, corporate IT departments will need to take stock of the new approaches, Seyer said. For example, could they ensure the proper controls on their corporate data when running a partition on an employees own machine and, in so doing, find the total cost of ownership model? But so-called stateless PCs based on AMD hardware could come out sooner rather than later. "We have a relationship with end customers who are trialing stateless devices [and] delivering software and apps as a service inside their enterprise," he said. Mark Hachman contributed to this report. Editors Note: This story was updated to include information about AMDs virtualization efforts. Check out eWEEK.coms for the latest news in desktop and notebook computing.

John G. Spooner John G. Spooner, a senior writer for eWeek, chronicles the PC industry, in addition to covering semiconductors and, on occasion, automotive technology. Prior to joining eWeek in 2005, Mr. Spooner spent more than four years as a staff writer for CNET News.com, where he covered computer hardware. He has also worked as a staff writer for ZDNET News.

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