The company said Monday that it will have "experimental support for 64-bit host operating systems designed for AMD64 and Intel Extended Memory 64 Technology [Intel EM64T]."
One observer of the 64-bit processor world, Nathan Brookwood, of Insight 64, is looking for 64-bit extensions to come this summer from Microsoft, when it delivers a version of its Windows XP Service Pack 2. Microsoft last week released a version of SP2, but hedged on a date for its final release.
"Microsoft has been trying to get 64-bit extensions down," said Brookwood in an interview. He noted that the extensions for robust 64-bit applications have been held up because Microsoft has been working harder than ever to include improved security features in its software.
VMware said it will have preliminary 64-bit support available for VMware GSX Server 3.1 and VMware Workstation 4.5.2, with support for Windows Server 2003 (Beta) for 64-bit extended systems. VMware support will also be available for Red Hat Enterprise Linux 3 and SuSE Linux Enterprise Server 8 64-bit host operating systems. VMware GSX Server customers and VMware Workstation 4.x customers will be provided free updates in most instances.
"The introduction of support for 64-bit computing marks the first milestone for VMware's 64-bit roadmap," the firm stated. "Future milestones will include the ability to concurrently run 32-bit and 64-bit virtual machines on AMD64 and EM64T architectures."
The 64-bit software from both Microsoft and VMware would be of immediate benefit for AMD, which has been marketing its 64-bit Athlon and Opteron PC models for several months. Intel has been slower to move in the 64-bit PC market, although its high-end Itanium processors have powerful 64-bit capability.
VMware, which is a unit of EMC, said the 64-bit updates unveiled this week enable its users to continue using their 32-bit guest operating systems while migrating to 64-bit host operating systems.
VMware noted that its virtual infrastructure abstraction layer between computing, storage, and networking hardware and software enables "software to be installed on or moved from any physical system to another without requiring reconfiguration of the software."