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2/6/2006
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Intel Turns On Virtualization Technology In 'Paxville' Processors

The idea is to shift some of the heavy lifting necessary to run multiple operating systems from software to the Xeon processor.

Intel said Monday system manufacturers are ready to turn on the hardware-assisted virtualization capabilities in its "Paxville" Xeon processors.

Intel has released a BIOS upgrade for systems builders that use Xeon MP 7000 processors for servers that have four or more sockets, said Lori Wigle, director of marketing for the Server Platform Group at Intel, Santa Clara, Calif. When Intel originally shipped those processors in the forth quarter, the hardware-assisted virtualization capabilities were built in but not supported in the system BIOS.

Dell, Hewlett-Packard and IBM also are shipping new BIOS versions that solution providers can use to upgrade branded systems, she said.

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.

Intel's virtualization technology, which also will ship in processors for single- and dual-socket servers mid year, 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 as well as enable 64-bit guest operating support in VMWare.

Also on Monday, Advanced Micro Devices, Sunnyvale, Calif., released its I/O virtualization technology specification.

AMD said its I/O virtualization technology complements its hardware-assisted virtualization, formerly code-named Pacifica, that is slated to ship with processors mid-year. AMD said I/O virtualization provides mechanisms to support virtualization software in managing, partitioning and securing I/O devices. VMWare, Xen and Microsoft's virtualization product are expected to support AMD's technology.

An Intel spokesperson said the chip maker had previously announced that I/O virtualization would be supported in the next version of Intel's virtualization technology. Though Intel has yet to announce a ship date on that release, the spokeswoman said Intel has been working on it with partners for several months.

Intel's Wrigle declined to compare Intel's implementation of the technology against AMD's, except to say that Intel has its out first and has already established an ecosystem.

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