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Silicon-level virtualization took another step toward becoming mainstream last week when Advanced Micro Devices Inc. rolled out the specifications for its Pacifica technology.
"Virtualization will provide end users with a better total cost of ownership by allowing them to share their hardware between multiple operating environments," says Steven McDowell, division marketing manager for AMD's microprocessor solutions sector. A "hypervisor" layer, which provides on-chip ability to execute virtual machine instructions, will let virtualization software providers more finely tune applications to run on the chips, he says.
In server applications, virtualization can help balance data-center workloads for higher overall utilization, and in PCs, virtual partitions can be created to enable the use of legacy software or isolate computation-intensive applications. Pacifica is expected to be embedded in all AMD processors starting next year, roughly the same time Intel has said its virtualization technology will be available.