AMD Previews Pacifica Virtualization Technology

AMD gives developers a peek at its "Pacifica" chip virtualization technology, which will enable users to run multiple OSes and apps in separate partitions on a single processor.

Advanced Micro Devices Inc. is giving the industry a look at its upcoming chip virtualization technology during a Reviewers Day on Wednesday.

The event, in Austin, Texas, is designed to give analysts and software developers a look at "Pacifica" before the first specification of the technology is released next month.

The technology is designed to enable users to run multiple operating systems and applications in separate partitions on a single processor. Like virtualization software from such companies as VMware Inc. and Microsoft Corp., Pacifica will enable customers to create multiple virtual systems.

Both AMD and rival Intel Corp., of Santa Clara, Calif., are developing virtualization technology that they say will complement the software offerings. Pacifica will start appearing in servers and PCs next year. Intels "Vanderpool" virtualization technology—officially called Intel Virtualization Technology—will start appearing in the companys desktop and 64-bit Itanium chips later this year, and next year in its Xeon server and mobile processors.

It has been commonplace in mainframe and Unix systems for many years, but the x86 architecture has made it cumbersome to bring virtualization into that space.

Chip-level virtualization was a key topic at the Intel Developer Forum last month. Both AMD and Intel officials said the technology will boost the performance of virtual servers created by software, and give better security and reliability as well. However, VMware officials at IDF last month said it will help in some instances but have little impact in others. That said, VMware officials said they will support the virtualization efforts from the chip makers.

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AMD officials said the technology in Pacifica and Intel Virtualization Technology is similar enough so that hypervisor makers will be able to run their software on both without any tweaking.

In addition to Pacifica, AMD, of Sunnyvale, Calif., last month announced a partnership with XenSource Inc. to port its Xen open-source virtualization package to AMDs 64-bit Opteron chips later in the first half of this year.

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