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Golden's Rules: Why new chips + Xen = dream machines

Quoting from SearchOpenSource.com:

 

You've probably heard about virtualization and the upcoming integration of Xen, an open source virtualization technology, into Linux distributions. You may not have heard why Xen goes better with this new generation of chips.

Intel has already delivered chips that support virtualization natively, and AMD will deliver them later in the year. Essentially, the chip takes on some of the burden of running virtualization, making it possible for virtualization software to accomplish two important things:

  • run a lighter-weight piece of software, freeing up more processing power for the hosted operating systems; and
  • run unmodified operating systems. (Previous virtualization required special versions of the operating systems that were modified to integrate with the virtualization software.)

With the new chips providing much of the virtualization capability, it is in the reach of a small business to have a high-performance virtualized machine (or indeed, machines). It is no longer necessary to have a four- or eight-way machine to host multiple operating systems, each in its own container; with the new chips, virtualization can be achieved with a single- or dual-processor machine.

The fact that these new chips come as dual-core makes virtualization even easier to achieve in a low-end machine. That's very good news.

In the past, if you wanted to run only Linux instances on the virtualized machine, you didn't need to run modified operating systems. Linux has had specially modified versions available for a while that would integrate into a Xen infrastructure.

What's exciting about the ability to run unmodified operating systems is that it opens up the possibility of running Windows instances alongside of Linux instances -- without requiring Microsoft to make available a modified version of Windows tuned for Xen.

This means, for example, that in the near future my current brace of machines -- one Linux and one Windows -- will be consolidated onto one multi-core machine, either single- or dual-processor. It will offer the full capability of both operating systems on the underlying machine. Full digital processing will be available, too, whether the necessary application runs on Linux or Windows. This certainly increases my choices and flexibility.

Read the entire article, here.

Published Monday, March 27, 2006 1:20 PM by David Marshall
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