AMD previews Pacifica virtualisation platform

AMD has previewed its virtualization technology codenamed ‘Pacifica’ at its AMD Reviewer’s Day in Austin, Texas.

To work with both 64-bit Opterons and Athlons, Pacifica is planned to support virtualisation support for x86-based servers, desktops and mobile computers. As with other company’s efforts in this field – see Intel and its Vanderpool system – the system is meant to bring more robustness to applications and the general use of PCs. By using ‘virtual machines’ within processors, independent software environments will be better able to co-exist.

‘AMD has taken an inclusive approach to Pacifica by previewing it to the virtualization ISV and analyst community,’ said Marty Seyer, general manager of AMD’s Microprocessor Business Unit. ‘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,’

The preview of ‘Pacifica’ precedes official release of a specification, planned for April, 2005. As for hardware support, client and server processors carrying the technology are due to appear in the first half of 2006.

‘By enhancing virtualization at the processor level, and building on the success of industry-leading AMD64 technology, we believe that Pacifica is vital to the development of best-in-class virtualization solutions,’ added Seyer.

Intel first demoed its own virtualisation technology back in Fall 2003 IDF. More recently it

released preliminary Vanderpool Technology External Architecture Specifications, urging wider industry collaboration – Intel champions virtualised home media server .

Intel has said it plans to provide the Vanderpool technology in future desktop processors and chipset products in 2005, which is a year earlier than previously planned.

Microsoft, however, was among those welcoming AMD’s flavour of development, describing it as ‘an important building block for future virtual machine solutions’ on the Windows platform.

‘Businesses and consumers have rapidly adopted Microsoft’s Virtual PC 2004 and Virtual Server 2005 for scenarios ranging from development and test simulation to production server consolidation,’ said Rob Short, corporate VP at Microsoft’s Windows Division. ‘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.’

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