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Parallels Server beta goes public; supports new Apple Mac Pro, Xserve

Looking for an alternative to VMware ESX, Xen, or Microsoft Hyper-V? SWsoft, soon to be renamed Parallels, announced the public beta of its Parallels Server hypervisor today, a few short weeks since the hypervisor entered into private beta.

In addition, Apple and Parallels have worked out a deal to allow Parallels Server to run on the new Apple Xserve and Mac Pro hardware, which use the latest generation of Intel chips featuring Intel Virtualization Technology for Directed I/O (Intel VT-d). Parallels has promised experimental support for VT-d systems in beta and full support when Parallels Server becomes generally available.

This announcement makes Parallels Server the first bare-metal hypervisor to run on Apple hardware. Apple shops will be able to run Mac OS X Leopard as well as Windows, Sun Solaris and Linux virtual machines on their high-end Apple hardware. Parallels Server is also notable in that it can be installed either on bare metal à la VMware ESX Server or as a “lightweight hypervisor” running on top of a host operating system. At installation, users can choose how they want to deploy Parallels Server.

Last fall, Apple paved the way for this announcement when it altered its end-user license agreement (EULA) to enable the virtualization of Mac OS X. Of course, Parallels Server also runs on non-Apple x86 hardware, although Apple prohibits Mac OS X from running there.

According to Parallels, Parallels Server beta includes the following features:

  • support for more than 50 different varieties of x86 and x64 guest operating systems;
  • remote control of the virtual machines via the Parallels Management Console;
  • support for up to 64 GB of RAM on the host computer;
  • two-way symmetric multiprocessing (SMP) support in virtual machines, to go to four-way SMP in the final version;
  • multi-user access to the same virtual machine;
  • support for ACPI (Advanced Configuration and Power Interface) in virtual machines; and
  • open, fully scriptable APIs for customized management* Full support for Intel VT-x, and experimental support for Intel VT-d.

For more information or to participate in the beta, visit the Parallels Web site.

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