February 24, 2005 4:00 AM PST

IBM throws weight behind multi-OS push

IBM has quietly added a new option to the suddenly vogue market for "hypervisor" software that lets a computer run multiple operating systems simultaneously, CNET News.com has learned.

But Big Blue's efforts aren't likely to squash a potential rival just flexing its muscles.

IBM has released source code for its Research Hypervisor, or rHype, on its Web site, letting anyone examine the approach of a company renowned for its expertise in the field. One distinguishing feature: rHype works with multiple processor varieties, including IBM's Power family, widely used x86 chips such as Intel's Xeon, and the new Cell microprocessor codeveloped by IBM, Sony and Toshiba.


What's new:
Big Blue quietly enters the noisy market for "hypervisor" software, which lets a computer run multiple operating systems simultaneously.

Bottom line:
Considering its open-source nature and IBM's actions so far, rHype is more likely to be a help than a hindrance to a competing project called Xen.

More stories on hypervisor

The project potentially competes with two commercial products--Microsoft's Virtual Server and EMC's VMware--and with the open-source Xen software that has attracted support from numerous computing heavyweights.

But given rHype's open-source nature and IBM's actions so far, rHype is more likely to be a help than a hindrance to Xen. Specifically, it could help Xen move from its current base of x86 chips to IBM's Power.

"We've spent quite some time talking to its authors," Xen founder Ian Pratt said. "Now that the rHype code is open source, it's a great starting point for a port of Xen to Power."

The rHype software may be incorporated directly into Xen because both packages are governed by the General Public License (GPL), Pratt said. And IBM isn't shying away: Its programmers have been contributing to the Xen project.

It makes sense for IBM to help Xen, said Charles King, principal analyst of Pund-IT Research. "It sounds like a natural point of intersection, given IBM's natural interest in open source and in virtualization," King said.

IBM is the 800-pound gorilla when it comes to hypervisor software, which it has supported for decades on its mainframes and has brought to its Power-based Unix servers. But for x86 servers, IBM chose a partnership with VMware rather than bring its own technology to market.

IBM declined to comment on most details of rHype. However, Tom Bradicich, chief technology officer for IBM's Intel-based xSeries server line, said Tuesday that it's not likely IBM will turn rHype into a product.

"It's in the realm of the possible, but we don't foresee it at this time," Bradicich said.

IBM has used rHype to aid three internal projects. One is sHype, the Secure Hypervisor project to build barriers between different

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What about Windows?
I didn't see mention of windows. does it allow Windows and Linux to run at the same time?

...What's the Hot-Key? er.. maybe I'd better install first....

No really, I do wish to know if it allows "Hot-Key" switching between Linux and Windows running at the same time. (as opposed to restarting computer with different OS option)
Posted by qazwiz (208 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Windows boot support unclear
IBM declined to comment for this story, so I'm afraid it's unknown whether Windows will boot. My guess is that it could, theoretically, on x86 computers running rHype. However, at least for the time being, booting Windows on rHype would almost certainly require modifications to the operating system that would require access to Windows source code. But because Microsoft has its own product in this area, it's not clear how eager it would be to help support rival software. As a final point, coming extensions to x86 chips such as Intel's VT may make it much easer to run operating systems without having to modify them.
Posted by Shankland (1858 comments )
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"Hot-Key" switching
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Posted by Ubber geek (325 comments )
Link Flag
Windows will be dead
I don't think windows have the future if Microsoft continues to closely guard its source code from developers around the world.

With the giant like IBM supporting Open source and now with this new platform,we can have best of open source running simultaniously one one machine and giving optimum performance.

Let Microsoft come out with their own "MS-Hyper something something" :)
Posted by (3 comments )
Reply Link Flag
... isn't it about time that the x86 processor series is abandoned?
Right now, growth on the Intel proicessors is handicapped by
the need to retain compatibility with 8086/8088 opcodes. Apple
realized the limits of the 68000 and went to RISC via the
PowerPC chip, then the G3, G4, and G5 sequence. Meanwhile,
the Pentiums are little more that 8088's on steroids.

All we need is to find somebody at MS who is smart enough to
write an OS for a new Intel processor. (That's not Bill, he
basically 'innovated' DOS and never could figure out a BIOS.) But
someone needs to redirect the PC development, and the
corresponding OS development, into a effective design path.
Posted by Earl Benser (4310 comments )
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