GuidesAMD's Free Virtualization License

AMD’s Free Virtualization License

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In a move designed to facilitate fast adoption of its virtualization technology, AMD announced it is offering royalty-free licenses to hardware and software developers.
The chip maker sees desktops as well as server applications for virtualization.

“The idea is to make [virtualization] easy for anyone to implement,” Steve McDowell, director of emerging technology at AMD, told “There is no fee. We want to make our products and architecture better.”

AMD’s I/O virtualization technology is designed to extend the benefits of CPU-assisted virtualization by addressing the performance bottlenecks and security issues that can be encountered when virtualizing I/O devices in x86-based servers, desktops and notebook computers.  Far from competing with well-known software virtualization companies such as VMware and XenSource, AMD said it will improve the platform those products work with.

VMware, XenSource, and Microsoft all offered statements of support in AMD’s release announcement.

“Virtualization helps customers overcome the physical boundaries and underused capacity of IT systems, and is a key stepping stone for customers to increase operational efficiency and become more dynamic and responsive to business needs,” said Jeff Price, Microsoft’s senior director of Windows Server Division, in a statement.

“Microsoft is working closely with AMD to help open the way for a new class of innovation to make IT systems not only more cost-effective, but also more secure, manageable and interoperable.”

Implementation is still a ways off. AMD anticipates all its processors will have virtualization support by mid-year. But chipsets and core logic designed for AMD64-based systems aren’t likely to show up with virtualization implemented before last year.

“It will be mainstreamed in 2007,” said McDowell.

While virtualization has become popular on the server side as a way to more efficiently manage and partition multiple operating systems, AMD is bullish on desktop applications, as well.

“On the client, commercial side, it’s not so much about running two OS’s,” said McDowell.

“Where we see a big opportunity is manageability and security where you can have hard isolation of spyware and other threats. I don’t know that end users care about virtualization on the desktop, but they do care about security and this is where we can enable some very futuristic security models.”

Intel, is also building virtualization capabilities into its chip line.

Vendors have been moving to broaden the availability of virtualization which may well evolve as a standard feature of both desktop and servers.

In December, VMware announced the availability of a free VMware player. On Monday, the Palo Alto, Calif-based company introduced a beta release of VMware Server, a free, hosted virtualization product for Windows and Linux servers designed to let users run several operating systems on one machine. It will replace its current VMware GSX server offering.

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