Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Virtual Machine on ARM CPU

The 2 virtual machine software (VMWare and Virtualbox) that I know runs on Intel x86 architecture. This sounds reasonable, as most popular operating system software runs on x86. Windows, Linux, Mac OS X (10.5), Solaris are all available on x86 cpu architecture platform. Simulator for ARM like armware is in working process, new virtual machine software for ARM should be coming soon too.

What is a virtual machine? What is it use for? Virtual machine (VM) is a software platform which simulate the computer hardware (cpu, memory, hardware storage and I/O etc.), to allow different operating system running at the same time on the same machine. VM simulate as many standalone computer hardware on a single machine, as long as you have enough hardware resources to support it.

Simulation software are normally slow and use a lot of resources. As hardware technology improve, and price getting cheaper and cheaper, a newer personal computer machine is much more powerful than an older server.

As virtual machine software technology improve from time to time, the performance of the software running on virtual machine is closer to the software performance running on native platform. The using of the virtual machine software came with many advantages.

There are many advantages with using virtual machine. With virtual machine, you can run a different operating system software on the same machine. For example, you can setup 2 operating system on the same machine, 1 for development, another 1 for testing. You can easily setup the software environment on the virtual machine by backup, copy and restore the VM image. With virtual machine, testing and server management are much easier.

Current iOS and Android runs on ARM cpu platform. As mobile environment getting more popular, ARM cpu are getting more powerful and more popular too, improve with multi-core and moving to 64 bits. Apple is pushing its mobile cpu to 64 bits with A7 cpu, other competitors like Samsung and Qualcomm will follow as well.

AMD is trying very hard to include ARM cpu in their hardware platform (read here), not sure AMD is pushing ARM into their server platform. There are rumors that Apple is testing ARM cpu for their notebook actively.

CPU performance is not the only benchmark, power consumption is the area where ARM cpu out perform the Intel cpu. Apple notebook will equipped with ARM cpu, sooner or later, then a virtual machine for ARM will exist.

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