Intel, AMD Rev Virtualization

Intel Advanced Micro Devices are readying their respective CPU virtualization technologies.

Intel Corp. and Advanced Micro Devices Inc. are readying their respective CPU virtualization technologies, which they said will enhance the performance of software-based virtual machines and spur growth of virtualization in data centers.

Panels led by both chip makers last week raised questions, however, ranging from how their offerings will complement VM products from software makers such as Microsoft Corp. and VMware Inc. to how ISVs will license applications that run on VMs. Many of those questions will work themselves out as the technologies mature, said Intel and AMD officials.

"The immediate benefits will be improved performance [and] improved robustness" in software-based VMs, Abhi Talwalkar, vice president and general manager of Intels Digital Enterprise Group, said at the Intel Developer Forum here.

Virtualization lets users run multiple operating systems on a single server or pool multiple servers into a single IT resource. The way x86 chips are built makes virtualization more difficult in the mainframe and Unix worlds.

Intel Virtualization Technology will begin showing up in the Santa Clara, Calif., vendors Pentium desktop and Itanium 2 chips later this year and in Xeon server chips and mobile processors next year.

AMD, of Sunnyvale, Calif., will release the specification for the companys "Pacifica" virtualization technology this month, and the technology will start appearing in 64-bit AMD processors next year, said Margaret Lewis, AMDs commercial software strategist.

According to some industry observers, the impact of the chip makers offerings will depend on how virtualization software from ISVs evolves around the CPU-based offerings.

Steve Johnson, senior systems analyst for the mathematics department at Texas A&M University, in College Station, said CPU-level virtualization could be important if it means better use of hardware and faster performance of software-based VMs.

"Theres the potential to eliminate additional I/O costs necessary to send requests from a particular virtual machine," said Johnson.


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