AMD To Tie In Virtualization

AMD said last week that its virtualization technology, code-named Pacifica, will be available throughout its processor lineup, including its Athlon 64 for desktops and Opteron processors for servers and workstations. The Sunnyvale, Calif.-based chip maker plans to release specifications for the technology next month.

AMD also has forged working alliances with Microsoft and virtualization technology companies VMware and XenSource. AMD's rollout of virtualization technology follows that of rival Intel, which already released specifications for its Intel Virtualization Technology.

The Santa Clara, Calif.-based chip giant plans to release the technology for its desktop and 64-bit Itanium processors in the second half of 2005. Virtualization for Intel Xeon processors is slated to be available in 2006.

Marty Seyer, vice president and general manager of AMD's Microprocessor Business Unit, said that AMD is improving virtualization "at the processor level" and raising the bar for virtualization solutions.

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The race to add hardware-based virtualization--as AMD and Intel gear up to ship their first dual-core chips later this year--is expected to spur innovation in graphics, digital convergence and IT management.

"It's a big deal for most resellers," said Brian Zhakmakian, technical director at Future Technologies, a Great Neck, N.Y.-based system builder. "That's going to be a big change, a big difference. With all the chip changes, it's going to help with management and getting management easier to set up. From a technical side, it's going to be a revolutionary change."

AMD beat Intel to the punch with processors that supported 32- and 64-bit software, Zhakmakian said, adding that he did not think AMD would be disadvantaged by having Intel get to market first with virtualization.

AMD is "actually making strides and promoting their product well," Zhakmakian said. "They are putting a lot of technology advantages in before Intel."

Among other things, virtualization would permit systems to be partitioned into "subsystems" that would allow PCs and servers to be configured with multiple operating systems or with multiple user models without significantly degrading performance.