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Virtualized Desktops, Great Graphics

As chip makers continue upping the ante in the x86 server virtualization game, they're strategizing about what cards to play next. Advanced Micro Devices Inc.,  for instance, is scrutinizing how it might deal with graphics virtualization -- an increasingly important technology for a world in which virtual clients become the norm.
In a recent conversation, Margaret Lewis, director of virtualization for AMD, discussed how the company is approaching this emerging technology. Graphics being AMD's "lifeline, our blood," understanding this technology is especially important to the company, she says.
Good graphics are important to users, too -- and most aren't willing to forego a good visual experience just because their IT departments have adopted a virtualization methodology, Lewis adds.
AMD isn't ready to lay out a roadmap, but it is carefully examining what to do with graphics virtualization. It's studying the use cases and talking to vendors about how they'd use graphics virtualization and what they'd need to support those initiatives, she says.
For example, the virtualization engineers have tapped into the expertise of their workstation brethren, she says. 
"You might virtualize an engineering workstation and run multiple applications  on it. How can you take the high-end graphics card that's in there and have all the applications successfully access it without having to do lot of redefining of system-level resources?" she wonders. "Does some of this depend on I/O virtualization being in place? Are changes to the graphics board needed? Is it a software issue? We need to understand what needs to happen to plan effectively."
This is definitely one virtualization development worth keeping a close eye on.

Posted by Beth Schultz on 08/12/2009 at 12:49 PM


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