Xen Project Hypervisor 4.5 Adds Support for ARM Processors

Mike Vizard
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Six Trends Shaping the Data Center in 2015

The Linux Foundation announced today that the Xen Collaborative Project has made available an update to Xen Project hypervisor that now supports 32 and 64-bit ARM processors.

Support for ARM processors in version 4.5 of the Xen Project hypervisor is a critical element of bringing servers based on ARM processors to market. In the case of Cavium, for example, the system on a chip (SOC) architecture the company designed for its servers enables organizations that adopt those servers to achieve a higher level of virtual machine density per physical server than can currently be achieved using an x86 server.

Xen Project Advisory Board Chairman Lars Kurth says that in 2015, the Xen Project hypervisor expects to achieve parity between the features and functions it supports on both x86 and ARM processors.

In the meantime, version 4.5 of the Xen Project hypervisor adds support for Intel Resource Director Technology (RDT), including cache monitoring, which improves performance and manageability of virtual machines running on Intel® processors.

The new release also adds support for COarse-grained LOck-stepping (COLO), which enables a primary virtual machine (PVM) to be replicated on-demand to a secondary VM (SVM) on a different physical system. That capability is an extension of the work of the Remus project, a periodic VM check pointing capability that was included in earlier versions of the Xen Project hypervisor.

With version 4.5 of the Xen Project hypervisor, Kurth says the Linux Foundation has also enhanced security and made available an experimental real-time scheduler for embedded systems.

While Xen hypervisors might not be widely used inside the enterprise, the open source hypervisor is everywhere in the cloud. Most cloud service providers prefer not to have to pay licensing fees for virtual machine software from a commercial vendor. Perhaps more significantly, it may very well be the continued expansion of Xen hypervisor capabilities that will soon lead to more server diversity not only in the cloud, but in other IT environments as well.

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