VMware primes virtualization for dual-core systems

VMware is preparing its server virtualization software to support dual-core systems and says it plans to charge for the technology on a per-socket - meaning per-CPU - basis, rather charging by individual core.

"Customers will be able to utilize increased processing power available on these systems at the same cost [as they pay for single-core servers], so they'll be getting more bang for the buck," says Raghu Raghuram, senior director of strategy and market development at VMware.

Raghuram says VMware GSX Server 3.2, to be released in the next few weeks, will be the first VMware product to support dual-core systems. Support for dual-core servers in VMware ESX Server and its management product, VirtualCenter, will follow shortly after, Raghuram says. VMware Workstation already supports dual-core processors on the desktop.

Dual-core servers have two processing cores on each CPU. The architecture is being adopted by chipmakers as a way to ramp up performance while keeping a handle on power and heat. Instead of running higher-frequency single-core chips to boost processing power, vendors can add lower-power cores to a single piece of silicon.

IBM has had a dual-core RISC chip since 2001 and Sun and HP unveiled their dual-core RISC processors early last year. AMD introduced the dual-core Opteron in April. Intel is expected to release its dual-core Itanium chip by the end of the year and a dual-core Xeon shortly thereafter. It introduced a dual-core Pentium processor earlier this year.

As dual systems become the standard for systems vendors -- Gartner predicts that chipmakers will stop manufacturing single-core processors as early as next year -- how quickly they are adopted by enterprise users is largely dependent on how ISVs charge for their software on the dual-core platforms.

In deciding to charge per socket, rather than per core, VMware joins vendors such as IBM and Microsoft, which also have announced that they will charge per socket on dual-core x86 systems. Oracle, which had been charging per core, recently altered its licensing policy. Now, instead of considering each core a single processor, it will consider each core 75 percent of a processor for software licensing.

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