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AMD Courts ISVs For 'Pacifica'

By Michael Singer (Send Email)
Posted Mar 31, 2005


AMD is approaching various software providers to help support the addition of virtualization software in its future 64-bit processors. Microsoft, VMware, and XenSource have jumped onboard AMD's virtualization specification.

The company began educating various ISVs and those in the analyst community today about its technology, known as Pacifica. The company is scheduled to brief hardware reviewers Thursday.

To increase its chances of wider adoption in the enterprise, AMD said it is promoting Pacifica through strategic alliances with partners such as Microsoft, VMware, and open source distributor XenSource.

"We are excited about AMD's focus on enabling technologies such as Pacifica, and are working with them and other partners to ensure our software virtualization solutions for the Windows platform will leverage these underlying hardware advancements," Rob Short, corporate vice president for the Windows division at Microsoft, said in a statement. "Processor virtualization extensions are an important building block for future virtual machine solutions on the Windows platform."

Pacifica will be released as a specification next month and is scheduled for inclusion in AMD's client and server processors starting in the first half of 2006. The software lets the chip create virtual "partitions" that can isolate several user environments, such as multiple operating systems and applications, as well as improve defenses against viruses or spyware. Previously, virtualization approaches were software-based, such as Microsoft's Virtual Server or offerings by EMC's VMware.

"This ongoing collaboration, including today's disclosure, will ultimately provide Pacifica users with an even richer feature set and a higher performance model for hosting hypervisor-based virtualization solutions," Marty Seyer, a vice president and general manager with AMD, said in a statement.

AMD isn't the only chipmaker adding virtualization into its chip designs. Sun Microsystems, through its partnership with Fujitsu, and Intel are also designing virtualization technology in their processors as a way to improve performance without having to increase clock speeds.

On the x86 side, Pacifica is expected to compete more with Intel's Virtualization Technology (formerly Vanderpool), which is also scheduled for release in 2006. Neither company has said whether the two platforms would be compatible.

AMD will use its virtualization software in concert with its Direct Connect architecture, a processor design AMD uses to link the core CPU with the memory controllers and the other I/O circuits without having to use a front side bus.

AMD said its Pacifica feature enhancements are also planned for its future single-core and dual-core AMD64 processors.

This article was originally published on internetnews.com.

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