x86 hw virtualization

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x86 hw virtualization

thom22
Hi,

I have to buy a new SOHO-server soon. Please let me ask some xen-related
questions here...

Is the hardware needed for x86 hw virtualization already available and what
are the advantages of using hw virtualization?
It looks like Pentium D (8x0) does support virtualization. Is chipset-support
also required?

Is someone already using such hardware?

According to the roadmap XEN 3 will be released in the next few weeks. Will it
fully support hw virtualization?
And (much more interessting) will it allow unmodified guests (Windows)?

Thanks a lot

Thomas

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Re: x86 hw virtualization

Mark Williamson
> I have to buy a new SOHO-server soon. Please let me ask some xen-related
> questions here...
>
> Is the hardware needed for x86 hw virtualization already available and what
> are the advantages of using hw virtualization?

The advantage is that it makes it simpler and more efficient to implement
*full* virtualisation than using purely software techniques.

For Xen's paravirt API there's currently no performance benefits to using HW
with virtualisation assistance.  i.e. if you want to run Linux, NetBSD,
FreeBSD it'll probably be faster to run the native Xen port than to use HW
assisted virtualisation.

In 3.0 there won't be any advantage to having HW assists unless you want to
run unmodified guests (e.g. to consolidate a load of legacy software stacks
on one system).

> It looks like Pentium D (8x0) does support virtualization. Is
> chipset-support also required?

My understanding was that VT will work with existing chipsets. (anybody - am I
right?).  If it does, I guess I might have to buy one myself!

> Is someone already using such hardware?

Well, some Xen developers are ;-)

Basically, Intel has had VT SDVs (Software Development Vehicles) for quite a
while now.  I imagine other major virtualisation players also have access to
them.  They're not publically available yet.

> According to the roadmap XEN 3 will be released in the next few weeks. Will
> it fully support hw virtualization?

It'll support it and be able to boot (at least some) unmodified guests.  
Linux, BSD, etc are known to boot.

> And (much more interessting) will it allow unmodified guests (Windows)?

I'm not sure what the plan is but I suspect that it initially won't.  Running
Windows is relatively difficult - it uses loads of weird features of x86.  
Windows support will *definitely* eventually be supported on machines with HW
assist.

Cheers,
Mark

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