AMD, Red Hat Demo New Virtualization Capabilities with Opteron Processors

Advanced Micro Devices and Red Hat are demonstrating new virtualization capabilities that will allow virtual machines to migrate between servers based on Intel processors and systems using AMD's quad-core Opteron processors. While virtual machines can migrate between physical systems that use the same processors, the Red Hat and AMD demonstration shows that it is possible to move a virtual machine between an AMD-based system and an Intel Xeon-based system.

In a demonstration that could have a significant impact on the virtualization market, Advanced Micro Devices and Red Hat have shown that it is possible to live-migrate a virtual machine from a physical server using an Intel processor to a system based on an Opteron chip.

Red Hat and AMD, which have partnered for a number of years to develop virtualization technology, posted a video on YouTube Nov. 6 of a virtual machine live migration from a server based on a quad-core Intel Xeon E5420 processor to another machine based on a 65-nanometer AMD Opteron chip. The demonstration also showed the same virtual machines migrating between the server based on the 65-nm Opteron processor and a system using the newer 45-nm "Shanghai" chip.

AMD is expected to release Shanghai in the coming weeks.

Virtualization on the chip level is becoming an increasingly important part of processor design and Intel and AMD plan to enhance the virtualization capabilities of their microprocessors in the next year with additional technology that will allow for greater use of virtual memory as well as ways to create virtual I/O.

In the past, virtual machines could move between physical servers that used the same microprocessors with the help of technology such as VMware's VMotion. For a number of years, AMD incorporated this technology into its processors through its AMD-V technology. At this year's VMworld conference, Intel demonstrated a new technology with its Xeon 7400 series processors called Flex Migration, which makes it easier to move virtual machines from one Intel-based system to another.

However, it was considered a long shot that AMD and Intel, fierce rivals in the x86 processor market, would cooperate to allow virtual machines to migrate between different systems.

The demonstration that AMD and Red Hat released Nov. 6 showed that it was at least possible to live-migrate virtual machines in a controlled environment. Margaret Lewis, AMD's director of commercial solutions and software strategy, said customers have been asking for this type of technology but there was no time frame for when it would be available in the commercial market.