What is Hardware Virtualization ?

Hardware virtualization is a method whereby one or more "virtual machines" are created to share the hardware resources of one physical computer. This effectively means that through a process of hardware virtualization several different operating systems can be run on the same computer. Hardware virtualization has been utilized by businesses for several years now to increase efficiency, and individual computer owners are also using it in increasing numbers as a way to improve the functionality of their computers.

The physical computer on which other virtual machines are run using hardware virtualization is known as the host. The virtual machines are, in effect, simulated computer environments in which guest software can be run. The guest software which can be run in hardware virtualization can range from individual applications to full operating systems. Whilst the guest software will be run as if it is utilizing its own hardware, the fact that the hardware will in reality be shared means that performance will be slightly reduced. The guest software will typically not have full access rights to every piece of hardware within the host computer.

Hardware assisted virtualization requires a way of controlling all of the resources being shared by virtual machines on a single computer. This function is performed by what is known as a hypervisor, or a virtual machine manager. In hardware virtualization the hypervisor is software which will typically be run on the host computer's hardware. It will control access to the processor, the memory, and any other resources which the virtual machines might require. It is therefore the hypervisor which allows the hardware virtualization system to work, by enabling each individual virtual machine to behave as if it alone is in possession of the hardware resources.

Hardware virtualization technology

Intel (Intel VT - IVT ) and AMD (AMD-V) have both released hardware virtualization technology to facilitate the running of hardware virtualization on computers. This technology has been designed to boost the power of the hypervisor. Although these two pieces of hardware virtualization technology are separate and independent, they perform broadly the same function. As increasing numbers of modern computers are sold with incorporated hardware virtualization technology, more powerful CPUs will continually be developed to allow for better creations of simulated environments.

Hardware Virtualization - Intel VT and AMD-V

Hardware Virtualization

> Intel VT AMD-V

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Hardware virtualization is constantly developing, and many people in the computing industry believe that it has not yet fulfilled its potential. It is certainly steadily increasing in popularity, and the more people who utilize this technology the more developed it will become. The benefits of hardware virtualization in terms of efficient use of resources and software compatibility suggest that people will continue to embrace it in the future.

Intel® Virtualization Technology

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