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Virtualization software goes multi-processor

Jun 26, 2009 — by Eric Brown — from the LinuxDevices Archive — 2 views

The Sun-sponsored VirtualBox project has released a beta 3.0 version of its free, x86-oriented virtualization software. The Linux-compatible xVM VirtualBox 3.0 adds support for guest Symmetric Multiprocessing (SMP) with up to 32 virtual CPUs, as well as support for version 2.0 of the OpenGL graphics acceleration standard, among other features.


Targeted at server, desktop, and embedded platforms based on x86, VirtualBox lets users run their favorite software, Sun says, while enabling developers convenience when building, testing, and running "cross-platform, multi-tier applications." It does this by enabling development and target systems to share a single physical host. Supported target "platforms" include Linux, OpenSolaris, Solaris, Windows, and Mac OS X.

The Beta 1 release of version 3.0 is bleeding edge, caution the project leaders. New features are said to include:

  • Guest SMP support for up to 32 virtual CPUs (VT-x and AMD-V only)
  • Ability to use Direct3D 8/9 applications and games (Windows guests only; experimental)
  • Support for OpenGL 2.0 for Windows, Linux, and Solaris guests
  • New USB support for high-speed isochronous endpoints, as well as read-ahead buffering for input endpoints, enabling additional devices like webcams (currently Linux hosts only)
  • Kernel module compile fixes on Linux hosts
  • Multiple fixes and minor additions related to VMM, GUI, VHD, among others

In April, Sun released VirtualBox 2.2, adding support for the Open Virtualization Format (OVF), enabling users to build virtual machines, and then export them from development to production environments. VirtualBox 2.2 also added improved hypervisor optimization, as well as 3D graphics acceleration for Linux and Solaris applications. Last December, Sun released VirtualBox 2.1, featuring improved 64-bit support, 3D acceleration, easier Linux and Windows networking, hardware virtualization on Macs, and "full" VMDK/VHD support, including snapshots.

VirtualBox is billed as the only open source, professional-quality virtualization solution. In truth, it's not fully open source, but much of VirtualBox was released under the GPL in 2007, and project developers continue to offer VirtualBox OSE (open source edition) as a source-code distribution. This code is subsequently built and distributed by many downstream distributors, such as Debian.

An uncertain future under Oracle

Following the release of VirtualBox 2.2 in April, Sun accepted a bid by database giant Oracle to acquire the troubled company in a deal worth $7.4 billion. At the time, analysts predicted that when the deal goes through later this summer, Oracle will jettison most, if not all of Sun's open source projects.

This may be especially true of VirtualBox, since Oracle acquired virtualization firm Virtual Iron in May. In addition to fielding Virtual Iron's Xen-based virtualization product, the company already offers its own Xen-based software, Oracle Enterprise VM. Meanwhile, Oracle will also need to find a role for Sun's xVM Server and Solaris Containers virtualization products.


An early beta version of VirtualBox 3.0 is now available for free download. More information and links to downloads may be found here.

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