AMD Bares Chip-Based Pacifica to Attract Developers

The company's virtualization technology, built into its Opteron and Athlon 64 chips, allows PCs and servers to divide up resources to run multiple operating systems and applications.

AMD has published the details behind Pacifica, its hardware-based virtualization technology for PCs and servers.

The Sunnyvale, Calif., chip maker on Wednesday said it posted specifics behind the technology on its Web site in an effort to encourage software makers to begin writing applications that take advantage of Pacificas ability create separate partitions for different jobs on a single computer.

Advanced Micro Devices Inc. will begin offering the technology built into Opteron and Athlon 64 chips during the first half of 2006, the company said in a statement.

Pacifica, which AMD previewed last March, is designed to divide up PCs and servers to run multiple operating systems and applications simultaneously.

This allows businesses to spread out the computing resources of one machine to tackle several different jobs at the same time.

/zimages/3/28571.gifClick here to read more about AMDs preview of the Pacifica virtualization technology.

Although virtualization is becoming more popular for servers, it cannot be currently be done on x86 hardware—the x86 processor architecture underpins Intel and AMD chips—without specialized software from companies such as Microsoft Corp., VMWare Inc. and XenSource Inc.

Pacifica, AMD has said, will make it easier to use virtualization by bringing the emulation necessary to perform the job into the processor.

Thus software makers can focus their efforts on writing hypervisors, traffic-cop-like applications that serve to divide up access to hardware resources, or adding other features. AMD, for its part, continues to work with Microsoft, VMWare and XenSource, the company said in a statement.

The addition of the technology supports AMDs recent efforts to make headway in the corporate space. Pacifica is designed to combat rival Intel Corp.s Intel Virtualization Technology, sometimes called by its code name Vanderpool. In some respects, the technology is also an outward demonstration of recent changes in chip-making philosophies.

Both companies, at varying times, moved from attempting to rapidly boost clock speeds to building chips that can do more work, whether that means crunching more data per clock cycle, or enabling new ways of using x86 processor-based computers, as is the case with virtualization.

/zimages/3/28571.gifRead more here about AMDs Opteron processor and the companys rivalry with Intel.

Still, AMD has said that its Pacifica is similar enough to Intels virtualization technology that software makers should be able to create one application that takes advantage of both.

Whereas virtualization is a widely recognized method of adding more mainframe-like capabilities to the less-expensive Intel or AMD-processor, Windows-based standard servers, it could also have some business applications for desktops, AMD has said.

The technology could also make it easier to manage corporate desktops and notebooks, by allowing companies to create separate, secure partitions for work-related applications and data on a given PC.

The Intel Virtualization Technology will start appearing in the Santa Clara, Calif., companys desktop and 64-bit Itanium chips later this year, and next year in its Xeon server and mobile processors, the company has said.

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