AMD’s Free Virtualization License

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 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 software giant 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.

Today 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.

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