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Monthly Archives: April 2013

Intel Haswell CPU available in June with VMCS shadowing – nested virtualization

In the beginning of June, the new Intel Haswell CPUs will be available. Besides the regular improvements like being faster, having better energy efficiency and having better graphics capabilities, these new CPUs will also include VMCS shadowing (Virtual Machine Control Structure Shadowing).

Basically it’s a feature that allows you to run a hypervisor (like VMware, Hyper-V, Xen Server) and create another hypervisor as a VM beneath it. This is also called nested virtualization.

Some of you might say, “Hey this is not new, I’ve already done this with VMware!”. The difference however is that the current method uses some sort of emulation that does not directly access the hardware. And even though it’s great for testing purposes, the performance is suboptimal.

With the embedded hardware supported VMCS shadowing in the new Intel Haswell CPU the nested hypervisor can directly access the hardware, which should improve performance. Also, it might even make it possible to use non-VMware hypervisors in a nested virtualization scenario.

Of course as always, we’ll just have to wait and see how the performance will be in real-life. It’s also not clear to me yet if hypervisors need to be updated to be able to leverage this option. Nonetheless, to me it sounds very promising and I look forward to playing around with it.

For more information read this great article by Gabe Knuth called “Could VMCS Shadowing (a.k.a. nested VMs) from Intel’s new Haswell processors be what Bromium needs to work in VMs?”. When you use the links in the article you will be able to get more information about the Intel Haswell CPUs including benchmarks and more detailed information about VMCS shadowing and use cases.

[EDIT 08-06-2013] Citrix is working hard on integrating VMCS Shadowing / Nested VMs in their products:
http://blogs.citrix.com/2013/06/03/intel-and-citrix-collaboration-to-bring-support-for-hardware-accelerated-nesting-of-hypervisors-into-market/#comments

If you’re planning to build / buy an Intel Haswell based computer or Home Lab, be sure to look into the confirmed USB3 bug in the chipset. Also unfortunately the DDR3 prices have increased substantially (almost 50%) over the last half year.

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Posted by on April 29, 2013 in Hardware

 

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Office 365 – Full Office Web Apps have been added to my E1 account for free

Back in February I posted that as part of the new Office 365 service, changes would be made to the Office 365 plans.

These changes are in effect right now. In short this means that the E1 and K1 plans that previously were only able to read with the Web Apps have gotten the full Office Web Apps (view, edit, create). This replaces the old E2 and K2. So basically:

  • Old E1/K1 have gotten E2/K2 functionality at the same low cost.
  • Old E2/K2 customers will keep the same features, but at a lower cost (E1/K1).
  • Old E2/K2 will be replaced by E1/K1 since they will then have the same functionality.

The new situation has become like this:

New Office 365 Enterprise Plans overview

New Office 365 Enterprise Plans overview

PS: I love the Office 365 service and I’m looking forward to the new Office 365 features that will be added when Office 365 will start using the Office 2013 (Wave 15) versions of SharePoint, Outlook, Lync, Office Web Apps. I’ve gotten a mail that I’m planned to be upgraded within the next 4 weeks, so more about that soon. I’m especially curious if my SharePoint customizations will continue to work.

 
 

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Q1 tablet sales doubled compared to last year. Apple is losing market share to Google and Microsoft

Even though pc sales are struggling, tablet sales are increasing rapidly. In Q1 2012 around 20 million tablets were sold, while in Q1 2013 over 40 million were sold.

What’s also interesting is that Apple is losing tablet market share to Google and Microsoft compared to Q1 last year:

My view on this:

  • Tablets are becoming increasingly more important.
  • Pricing is very important to tablet buyers since the Google Android tablets have been selling that well.
  • Apple needs to come up with something fresh if they want to maintain or even increase their market share.
  • Windows tablet sales haven’t been as bad as some believed. Of course there’s still a lot of room for improvement, but I think that it will keep gainimg market share. Especially when prices will become more competive and when the number of good apps increaes.
  • Windows 8 has been blamed for bad PC sales, but Apple Mac sales fell 7.5% as well. I believe it’s just that customers rather have tablets and smarphones instead of PCs. Also it might be possible that the PC market just has become saturated.
 
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Posted by on April 26, 2013 in Hardware, ICT, Tablet

 

Free – Paragon Partition Manager 12 Home Special Edition *only 2 days*

Paragon is giving away “Paragon Partition Manager 12 Home Special Edition” for 2 days if you like them on FaceBook:
https://www.facebook.com/pages/Paragon-Software-Group/116815481437?sk=app_129643070561720&app_data

I don’t know when this offer started, but it would be best to use the offer as quick as you can and at least before the weekend.

I hope it is of use to you.

 
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Posted by on April 24, 2013 in Applications

 

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Microsoft – Surface Pro will be available before end of May in The Netherlands and many other countries

By the end of June, the Surface RT will be available in 29 countries and the Surface pro will be available in 25 countries.

It’s a pity we often have to wait for new products like the Surface Pro, but at least it’s coming to the Netherlands. And the waiting will also be over pretty soon, since it will be available before the end of May.

Personally I’m not a big fan of Windows RT, but I really love Windows 8 tablets. Since I’ve gotten my Windows 8 tablet, I have been using it as my main device. And apparently I’m not the only one as you can read in this great article:
“Two months with the Surface Pro and how it replaced my notebook”.

If you’re considering a tablet and are not yet sure if a Windows RT, Windows 8, Android or Apple tablet best meets your needs, read the comparison from one my previous blog posts.

 
 

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Passed the OS X Server Essentials 10.8 exam and earned Apple Certified Technical Coordinator (ACTC) 10.8 title

Yesterday, my colleague Daniel Hass (Macastic blog) from Open Line and I have both passed the “OS X Server Essentials 10.8″ exam with scores of over 90%. Because we had already passed the “OS X Support Essentials 10.8″ exam, we’ve earned the title “Apple Certified Technical Coordinator (ACTC) 10.8” in addition to the “Apple Certified Support Professional (ACSP) 10.8” title. I prepared for the exam by:

In my opinion the exam was relatively easy. It was key to read the questions and answers very well though.

If I have some time, I’ll try to make a summary similar to the one I did for the “OS X Support Essentials 10.8” exam.

 
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Posted by on April 20, 2013 in Apple, ICT, OS X, OS X Server

 

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