Q

Processors for virtualization

Which processor is best for virtualization purposes? AMD or Intel? What about chip support? Expert Andrew Kutz offers his opinion.

What processor is the best choice for VMware now? AMD or Intel? Should I hold off on buying new servers until built-in virtualization capabilities (chip support, for instance) have improved? How long will that take?

Currently Intel's line of 64-bit chips that support Intel Virtualization Technology (VT) (Vanderpool/Silverdale)

are the best choice for use with virtualization software. This includes their laptop and desktop chips, the Core 2 series and their Xeon serious server chips. AMD has their own chip-virtualization technology called AMD-V (Pacifica), but it is currently only offered (according to the AMD Website) in their Opteron series workstation/server chips.

Even though AMD offers chips with similar functionality, I recommend Intel because although both VT and V are relatively new, Intel-VT has been out longer and is likely to have more support from virtualization software vendors.

I do not get into many 32-bit vs. 64-bit debates because I usually do not think the extra width makes a lick of difference. However, it is important when designing a new virtualization infrastructure to go with 64-bit chips, because a 64-bit enabled host server is required to host 64-bit Virtual Machines (VMs). Since VMs are often used as test beds for new software or developing applications, you will want to be able to easily deploy a 64-bit version of an OS so you can test a 3rd party application, or your own application, on it.

This was first published in September 2006

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