Intel Activates Virtualization Tech For Xeon MP 7000

The Santa Clara, Calif., chip maker earlier this month released a BIOS upgrade for Xeon MP 7000 processors, said Lori Wigle, director of marketing for Intel&'s Server Platform Group. When Intel first shipped those processors in the fourth quarter, the hardware-assisted virtualization capabilities were built in but not supported in the system BIOS.

The Xeon MP 7000 series, part of the first batch of dual-core server processors from Intel, are for systems with four or more sockets.

On the software side, Wigle said VMware&'s new free entry-level sever will support Intel&'s virtualization technology, as will the company&'s existing GSX product. Other products that will support Intel&'s technology are Microsoft&'s forthcoming Virtual Server 2005 and Xen 3.0, she said.

“We&'re feeling pretty good about the ecosystem for hardware-assisted virtualization,” she said.

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Intel&'s virtualization technology, which also will ship in processors for single- and dual-socket servers midyear as part of the Bensley platform, seeks to shift some of the heavy lifting necessary to run multiple operating systems on one server from software to the processor. Intel said servers using its hardware-assisted virtualization technology perform virtualization more efficiently and enable 64-bit guest operating support in VMware.

One system builder said Intel is getting publicity for enabling virtualization months after the release of a high-end processor that is a lower-volume seller than typical single- and dual-socket processors. “Frankly, they should have included the functionality in the initial release,” said Joe Toste, vice president of Equus Computer Systems, Minneapolis. “Nonetheless, it will be important and Intel will be dominant.”

Toste said Intel&'s virtualization technology, when it rolls out in more of the volume chips with Microsoft&'s forthcoming Virtualization Server 2005, will be a powerful combination.

Meanwhile, Advanced Micro Devices, Sunnyvale, Calif., released its I/O virtualization technology specification that is intended to accompany its hardware-assisted virtualization in dual-core Opterons expected to ship midyear.

AMD said I/O virtualization provides mechanisms to support virtualization software in managing, partitioning and securing I/O devices.