RealTime IT News

VMware Enjoys The Power of Two

The laundry list of supporters for multi-core chip processing continues to grow. Virtualization software maker VMware became the latest vendor to announce that its entire server product line will support dual-core processors.

VMware GSX Server 3.2, which shipped this month, is the first VMware server product to support dual-core servers, followed by the Palo Alto, Calif., company's ESX Server and VirtualCenter software. VMware began supporting dual-core chips on its Workstation desktop software when it was introduced earlier this year.

Dual-core chips feature two cores or sockets per chip providing a performance boost without increasing power consumption. Virtualization allows users to run multiple operating systems or applications on one hardware box at the same time.

Detractors have said a combination of dual-core pricing and virtualization could be a tricky proposition in terms of accurate licensing rates. Virtualization allows part of a processor to be dedicated to one task, which can cloud the pricing issue.

The question is: If each chip boasts two sockets, how would this affect the way vendors charge customers? This is the same question that plagues the prospect of utility computing scenarios, which allows users to pay "by the drink," or according to the computing power they use. This approach gives users greater control over how they spend money on resources such as CPUs.

AMD, Intel and IBM have all launched dual-core chips in 2005, opening the door for software makers to pledge or refuse their support.

So far, software makers have been yielding to customer demands by not charging each dual-core processor as two separate chips. Microsoft, for example, said that it would count each multi-core chip as one processor.

Oracle changed its tune as late as Friday, vowing to price its application server and database software by designating each socket on a multi-core processor as three-quarters of a chip.

Some experts say this might not be enough to appease customers who view the arrival of dual- or multi-core processors as a way to get free extra performance at a time when they are already paying good money for computing gear.

While the pricing question remains, VMware said in a statement that "dual-core systems are a sweet-spot for virtualization," maximizing hardware efficiency so that customers require fewer servers.

With VMware software, IT organizations can provision services and change the amount of resources dedicated to a service by manipulating a management console in lieu of manual reconfiguration or repurposing.

Hardware management is separated from the software management and can be treated as a single pool of processing, storage and networking power to be shuttled across the enterprise.