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Intel CTO Rattner Interviewed About Virtualization

During the Intel Developer Forum, the company seemed to focus on their new microarchitecture called Nehalem which is due out in 2008.  Intel's CTO, Justin Rattner, spoke with eWeek staff writer Scott Ferguson about Nehalem and the company's roadmap.  One interesting question to me was the following:

What is Intel doing to build virtualization onto the processor?

We spent a lot of time and research on the virtualization topic. I think that perhaps we didn't focus on what the industry is doing with it. We were trying to create a more secure computing environment within the chip, and this notion of using virtualization to do that struck as quite novel and interesting, so that you could build independent virtual machines that each define their level of security. You could have open virtual machines and closed virtual machines and really control the flow of information between virtual machines.

A lot of what the industry is doing, in particular on the server side, is consolidation. People are saying that I can have so many copies of [Microsoft] Windows or I can have a mixed Windows and Linux environment and I can put each one of those in its own virtual machine. I can also dynamically provision each one of the virtual machines so that if they crash, I can reboot individual virtual machines without bringing down the system.

On the client side, you have things like VMware Fusion and Parallels for the [Apple] Macintosh, where you can switch between Windows and [Mac] OS 10 instantly, and now that's to the point where you don't even think you're switching but that it's like you just have different windows and those windows represent applications running with different underlying operating systems.

We think that virtualization is a great, powerful technology that is at its earliest stage of its application. We'd now like to get back to the security application, which is where we started. We are just bringing out this trusted execution technology, which we used to call "LaGrande," which guarantees that the image you load in the virtual machine is the image that you wanted to load. So we have this notion of secure boot, and we'd like to get back to that. We have focused a lot on processor virtualization, and there's a lot of work to be done on platform virtualization. How do we virtualize the platform so we have to do less in software and do more in the hardware? One of the things that we are doing with the USB 3.0 development is to develop the changes in USB architecture to support virtualization and then you have to look at what we are doing with PCI Express and USB and graphics. We have an eye toward supporting virtualized environments.

Read the entire eWeek interview, here.

Published Monday, October 01, 2007 6:32 PM by David Marshall
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