Intel speeds up rollout of PC virtualization technology

It will allow users to create virtual environments on PCs

Intel Corp. will bring its Vanderpool virtualization technology to desktop PC processors several months sooner than originally planned, the company announced yesterday.

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 his work applications in another environment, said Bill Kirby, Intel's director of desktop platform marketing.

Intel will build support for VT into the chip sets it plans to release around the middle of this year, but it 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 wouldn't become a mainstream technology until operating system support was available.

However, since then, 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 arrive either 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 that's 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.

Copyright © 2005 IDG Communications, Inc.

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