AMD Courts ISVs For ‘Pacifica’

AMD is approaching various software providers to
help support the addition of virtualization software in its future
64-bit processors.

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 said it 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.

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