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Tuesday, August 09, 2005
AMD Prepares for Virtualization with Software Emulator

AMD is expected to release a software program that will allow software developers to simulate the virtualization capabilities of AMD's forthcoming Pacifica technology before it appears in AMD's Opteron and Athlon 64 chips.

SimNow, the Pacifica simulator, will be available for download on AMD's Web site Tuesday, said Margaret Lewis, commercial solutions strategist for AMD. Although it usually provides simulators to large software vendors prior to the release of a new hardware technology, AMD hopes to reach a larger number of software vendors and developers in this case by making the simulator publicly available, she said.

Pacifica is expected to become available in the first half of 2006. It will allow PCs and servers to take advantage of virtualization technology to create separate virtual machines that can run different sets of software.

For example, an IT department would be able to create a section of a desktop or notebook that ran corporate applications, while dedicating another section of the device for personal use, Lewis said. If a user downloaded a virus onto the personal section of the PC, it wouldn't affect the corporate section or the rest of the corporate network, she said.

Or, a single server could run applications written for the Linux (Overview, Articles, Company) operating system on one virtual machine while running Windows applications on another virtual machine, Lewis said.

Companies can already do either of these things with software from companies such as VMware (Profile, Products, Articles) Inc. However, AMD and Intel (Profile, Products, Articles) Corp. are planning to build transistors dedicated to virtualization support into next year's crop of processors in order to improve the performance of virtualization software.

SimNow will allow a wide range of software developers to test and qualify their products for Pacifica before the chips are released so that products are ready to go with the launch of the technology, Lewis said. "We can't provide early hardware for everybody," she said.

The simulator will allow developers to test their applications on the equivalent of single-core Athlon 64 chips and dual-core Opteron chips, Lewis said.

From InfoWorld

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