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Today's guest post is from AMD's Margaret Lewis as part of AMD's Virtualization Ecosystem Month.

First of all, I want to thank VMware for the opportunity to post a second guest blog here following Virtualization Ecosystem Month (VEM).  At AMD, we believe working closely with our technology partners to develop innovative technology that meets the needs of our customers is a critical part of our job. While we’re happy to provide the underlying processor technology to help make virtualization run more efficiently, we understand that it’s our valued industry partners that put this technology into the hands (and servers) of businesses everywhere. In fact, VMware was one of the 10 software companies who supported the AMD Opteron™ processor launch in April 2003 and they’ve been giving businesses a reason to believe virtualization is here to stay ever since.

But, when it really boils down to it, why should customers care about the specific virtualization technology AMD and VMware bring together? Plain and simple: it’s all about the “hooks.” AMD has spent a lot of time working with virtualization software partners like VMware to define and implement the hardware technology needed to enable reduced complexity and overhead associated with virtualization. A good example of this is Rapid Virtualization Indexing (RVI), a feature of AMD Virtualization (AMD-V™) technology that was introduced in 2007 with the 65nm Quad-Core AMD Opteron processor (previously code-named “Barcelona”). Like some of our other virtualization partners, VMware supports RVI and in fact is delivering impressive virtualization performance to customers across a variety of workloads. 

So how does RVI actually work and what kind of gains can you expect to see? Well, in essence, RVI includes hardware support for a second or nested level of address translation.  This helps virtual machines (VMs) to more directly manage memory.  It also dramatically helps to improve performance across applications, because when there is less overhead, there can be more capacity for the CPU to focus on the application itself.As it relates to performance, VMware research shows that the current VMware VMM leverages RVI especially well.  In some configurations, the resulting performance gains were up to 42% for MMU-intensive benchmarks, and up to nearly 500% for MMU-intensive microbenchmarks, compared to binary translation (BT). 

The specific on-chip features of AMD Opteron processors go beyond RVI, however, particularly by taking advantage of VMware’s Enhanced VMotion Capability (EVC). By leveraging AMD’s stable platform approach, VMotion can support AMD Opteron processor-based servers from Rev E (single core) forward including 2-, 4-, and 8- socket servers. With this capability, users can migrate their workloads across virtual servers, regardless of the generation of their AMD processor. Quite simply, as data centers grow, purchasing decisions are not always standardized. EVC can have a major impact on the manageability and reliability of a virtual environment, particularly as it relates to load balancing and disaster recovery.

In my opinion, as virtualization continues to evolve, companies will continue to look to the hardware to help the virtualization software run more efficiently. Working closely with our virtualization partners at VMware, I am excited about the collaborative approach we’ve taken to drive innovation on both the hardware and software level to ensure we’re delivering really great technology to our joint customers.

Margaret Lewis (@margaretjlewis) is a Product Marketing Director at AMD. Her postings are her own opinions and may not represent AMD’s positions, strategies or opinions. Links to third party sites are provided for convenience and unless explicitly stated, AMD is not responsible for the contents of such linked sites and no endorsement is implied.