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Advanced Micro Devices on Wednesday released details of its virtualization technology called Pacifica and provided further guidance on availability of processors featuring the capability. This time the company has released specifications of the technology for software developers, which eventually will provide broad compatibility of the feature.

“Hardware virtualization in the x86 platform opens the way for a new class of innovation, making the platform more flexible, more manageable, and more secure. Both home and business users will benefit from the technology, which will rapidly proliferate across the entire x86 market. It will transform the way that we use our PCs, more so than any other technology this decade,” said Martin Reynolds, Gartner Fellow, Gartner, Inc.

Pacifica is designed to efficiently run multiple operating systems and applications in independent partitions, essentially allowing one compute system to function as multiple “virtual” systems. AMD virtualization technology will extend AMD64 technology to enhance the virtualization experience by introducing a new chip model with some improvements in the processing engine and memory controller, according to AMD. This may potentially mean that the general principles in Advanced Micro Devices’ chips that sport virtualization will remain the same as those with the AMD64 breed of processors.

AMD said it would introduce both client and server single-core and dual-core processors featuring Pacifica technology in the first half of 2006. At approximately the same time-frame the company is expected to introduce its new form-factors for chips, which means that AMD processors enabled with virtualization capability will only be compatible with new infrastructure.

For desktop and uniprocessor workstations AMD supposedly readies the so-called Socket M2, which will have 940-pins, but will not be compatible with existing Socket 940 infrastructure. Some web-sites claim that the Socket M2 will be used for AMD Sempron, AMD Athlon 64, AMD Athlon 64 FX and AMD Opteron 100-series processors and will substitute existing Socket 754, Socket 939 and Socket 940 desktop and workstation infrastructure. For AMD Opteron processors for 2P and MP servers AMD reportedly prepares a 1207-pin Socket F that will be utilized instead of Socket 940. For mobile computers AMD is expected to offer Socket S1 with 638-pins, which will replace existing Socket 754 for laptops.

Earlier this year AMD officials said the technology in Pacifica and Intel virtualization technology is similar enough so that hypervisor makers will be able to run their software on both without any tweaking.

Besides Pacifica AMD is projected to introduce security technology called Presidio also in 2006.

AMD’s rival Intel is set to introduce its virtualization technology called Vanderpool for Intel Pentium and Intel Itanium processors this year and add it to Intel Xeon chips in 2006.


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