Intel brings virtualisation to the desktop

Chip giant, Intel has brought hardware virtualisation to the PC. The company says that virtualisation will bring the benefits of improved management, security and productivity to the desktop.

Virtualisation has become a hot topic among IT managers over the past few years. As servers have proliferated throughout organisations, so the demand on IT staff to maintain the networks has grown. The answer to the problem has been an increase in ‘virtualised’ servers.

Virtualisation is a technique whereby a computer is partitioned into several ‘virtual’ machines each with its own operating system and applications. Each virtual machine is capable of running its own functions and working independently from the other processes but sharing the same processor, memory and hard disk space of the machine.

The technique has been in use in the mainframe arena for many years as the world’s largest corporations have been able to use their massive investment in computer power to run dozens of virtual machines. However the increased power of microprocessors now makes running several discrete functions, each with their own resources and operating system on a single low cost machine a practical proposition.

Along with the announcement, Intel says that Acer, Founder, Lenovo and TongFang are launching Pentium 4 processor-based desktop PCs with its Virtualisation Technology. Lenovo, which has the advantage of now owning the PC division of IBM – the pioneer of virtualisation – is already running pilot schemes with some of its customers. Intel also says that it has the support of the major software vendors VMWare and Microsoft.

Although at this stage, virtualisation is seen as a technology for business, Intel plans to bring the technology down to home PCs offering virtual ‘partitions’ isolating several user environments such as dedicated Web browsing resources, productivity software applications, personal video recorders and access for remote diagnosis and repairs.

The Intel Pentium 4 processor 672 and 662 with virtualisation technology are priced at $605 and $401 respectively, in 1,000-unit quantities.

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