AMD discusses CPU and virtualization at VMworld 2008

An AMD executive discusses interoperability issues with Intel, live migration and AMD's virtualization-assist technologies.

On Sept. 15, at VMworld 2008, Santa Clara, Calif.-based Intel Corp. made headlines with the announcement of Dunnington, its  six-core Xeon 7400 series processor.

For more on VMworld and on hardware for virtualization:
VMworld 2008 conference coverage

Dell adds new virtualization-ready servers to the mix

Server purchasing decisions in 2008 reveal virtualization's imprint

Margaret Lewis, the director of commercial software at Advanced Micro Devices Inc (AMD) was on hand during VMworld to discuss AMD's virtualization-assist technologies and interoperability issues with competitor Intel.

Both VMware and Microsoft leverage AMD-V, and VMware supports AMD's Nested Page Table technology, which Microsoft will do in the next version of Hyper-V when the company also offers live migration.

AMD and Intel: Crossing the gulf
Rapid Virtualization Indexing (RVI), or Nested Page Tables, is a feature of AMD's third-generation Opteron that helps reduce the performance overhead of virtualizing large applications such as databases. In fact, one VMware engineer deemed AMD's Nested Page Tables technology  "the answer to virtualizing large workloads."

AMD's Margaret Lewis discusses AMD's Nested Page Tables, Intel and more

Intel's release of the new 45-nanometer processor Dunnington, which allows for live virtual machine migration across more chipset families, was highly praised by VMware CEO Paul Maritz during his morning keynote. But there is still no way for users to live-migrate their virtual machines between AMD- and Intel-based systems.

We welcome the chance to work with hypervisor vendors who want to offer live migration between different processor types, but I'm not sure our competitors are open to that.
Margaret Lewis,
director of commercial softwareAMD Inc.

Lewis said  AMD has always supported interoperability but that "the competition may not feel the same."

There is still a gulf between Intel and AMD. We welcome the chance to work with hypervisor vendors who want to offer live migration between different processor types, but I'm not sure our competitors are open to that," Lewis said. "Our view is that users should have choice and there should be standards. . . . The problem is a good competitive opportunity for someone to crack the nut of how to VMotion between different types of processors."

With AMD, live migration is possible across any AMD Opteron processor from Rev-E forward – which includes single, dual or quad-core processor families of Opterons and future processors, Lewis said.

Speaking of the future, AMD plans to jump from today's quad-core to 12-core processors by 2010. In the second half of 2009, AMD plans to release its a six-core processor, code named Istanbul, which is based on the same chipset and platform (Socket F) as Barcelona and Shanghai.

To see our VMworld 2008 coverage, click here.

Let us know what you think about the story; email Bridget Botelho, News Writer. And check out our data center blogs: Server Farming, Mainframe Propellerhead, and Data Center Facilities Pro.

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