Intel speeds up rollout of PC virtualization technology

IDG News Service |  Virtualization

Intel Corp. will bring its Vanderpool virtualization technology to desktop PC processors several months before it had originally planned, the company announced Thursday.

Vanderpool Technology, or VT, is part of Intel's new strategy to provide users with benefits other than performance increases. VT will allow users to create virtual environments on their PCs in order to run separate operating systems on the same PC. It could also permit IT managers to upload patches or upgrades to one portion of the PC while the user runs their work applications on another environment, said Bill Kirby, Intel's director of desktop platform marketing.

Intel will build support for VT into the chipsets it plans release around the middle of 2005, but hadn't planned to activate that technology in processors until 2006, around the time Microsoft Corp. is expected to release its long-awaited update to the Windows XP operating system, code-named Longhorn. At last September's Intel Developer Forum, President and Chief Operating Officer Paul Otellini said that VT would not become a mainstream technology until operating system support was available.

However, since that time Intel has worked with many independent software vendors on products that don't require operating system support to make VT an option for home or business users, Kirby said. Those products will be ready from companies like VMware Inc. later this year, and VT will work with existing operating systems as long as a PC is using application software that has been optimized for the technology, he said.

Software developers can get started on products that support VT by downloading a new specification from Intel's Web site.

Intel declined to say which of its forthcoming desktop processors will support VT, but the technology will either arrive as part of a planned upgrade to the company's Pentium 4 processors, expected in the first half of 2005, or with the Smithfield dual-core desktop processor, expected in the second half of the year.

Virtualization technology is more commonly used in server environments. Intel's Itanium 2 processor will receive Vanderpool technology this year, as previously scheduled, while its Xeon server chips won't get VT until 2006, Kirby said. The company's Centrino mobile technology will also ship with VT in 2006, he said.

Intel will disclose more information about VT and some of its other upcoming technologies, like LaGrande security technology and Intel Active Management Technology at the company's upcoming Intel Developer Forum in March.

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