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Hypervisor rev’d for higher reliability

May 22, 2009 — by Eric Brown — from the LinuxDevices Archive — 1 views announced release 3.4 of its widely deployed, Xen virtualization hypervisor, which is widely used in Linux environments. The open source Xen 3.4 offers device pass-through improvements using Xen Client Initiative (XCI) technology, enhanced integration with the Microsoft Hyper-V hypervisor, and improved reliability and power management, says the project.

Release 3.4 is said to offer a variety of x86 and ia64 enhancements and fixes, as well as the following major new features:

  • Device pass-through — Improvements to pass-through have been provided, especially for client devices such as PCI peripherhals, based on Xen Client Initiative (XCI) enhancements. Xen 3.4 contains the initial XCI code release, “providing a base client hypervisor for the community to extend and improve,” says the project.
  • Reliability, Availability, Serviceability (RAS) — Reliability enhancements are said to include CPU and memory offlining, the ability to avoid and detect system failures, isolation of system faults, and system failure notices for administrators.
  • Power management — Enhancements include improved frequency/voltage controls and deep-sleep support, as well as a scheduler and timers that are said to be optimized for peak power savings.
  • Hyper-V integration — Xen now supports the Viridian (Hyper-V) enlightenment interface.

The Xen paravirtualization technology provides a platform for testing, deploying, and running multiple operating systems (OSes) on one isolated physical hardware resource. Xen supports Linux, Windows, FreeBSD, and NetBSD, and Linux, for which major improvements to Xen support was added with the Linux 2.6.23 release in 2007.

Among other commercial products based on Xen, Citrix offers its XenDesktop and XenServer, incorporating technology acquired by the company when it acquired hypervisor vendor XenSource in 2007. Citrix recently released XenDesktop3, which it says enables desktops to be run remotely or locally, supports twice as many desktops per server, and includes “HDX MediaStream” technology for multimedia acceleration.

Xen is increasingly used to consolidate servers, as well as to lower hardware and maintenance costs and minimize downtime. Vendors such as IBM, Sun, HP, RedHat, and Novell are integrating Xen into their Linux servers.

The Xen project refers to the Yankee Group's Third Annual Virtualization Survey, which is said to report a significant increase in commercial Xen-based solutions, now representing 17 percent of the total market. Citrix XenServer is responsible for 11 percent of that total, with an additional six percent coming other open source suppliers, says the group.


Xen 3.4 is available for free download, here. More information may be found here.

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