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:
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.
Tags: Citrix, CPU, DDR3, DDR3 memory, Hyper-V, hypervisor, hypervizor, Intel, Intel Haswell, Intel Haswell bug, Intel Haswell USB3 bug, memory, Microsoft, nested virtualisation, nested virtualization, performance, processor, USB3 bug, virtualisation, virtualization, VMCS, VMCS shadowing, VMware, vSphere, Xen Server, XenServer
As I already wrote in yesterday’s post Apple – Notes / summary for the “Mac Integration Basics 10.8 Exam”, I’ve mainly been working with Microsoft products all my life. Since recently however, I’m also trying to get more familiar with Apple, Mac products and OS X and am trying to become certified.
One of the reasons, I’d never used Apple products before was because I never really deemed it necessary. Nowadays the number of Mac users seem to be growing and there is more demand for people with Mac / OS X knowledge.
As such my quest for knowledge and certification began. For me personally this meant:
- Using Apple online resources
- Reading books (mainly the great book Apple Pro Training Series: OS X Support Essentials. Before purchasing, you might also want to look for coupon codes as it might save you 30% off or more.)
- Watching computer based training (CBT) videos
- Working with OS X (thanks go out to my employer Open Line for providing me with a MacBook Pro, books and most importantly … TIME)
- Personally I didn’t think it was necessary to take a course at a training center, but some people might prefer this.
- Asking colleagues for help (thanks guys !!!)
- Making sure that I understood everything and if it wasn’t the case, look it up.
- Taking notes / creating this summary blog post that can be used as a reference if needed
- Testing my knowledge using test questions from Revise IT
I’ve taken the exam last friday and passed with 92.5%. Even though I think it was a pretty good score, I still had to make some educated guesses. This made me realize that there’s still a lot to learn and that getting more experience is important as well.
I also want to mention that I took the exam at LAI the training institute for IT professionals in Schiedam (The Netherlands). They were really kind, helpful and service oriented. The waiting area and test room were great and they even provided a pastry and all kind of drinks at no charge. This has been my best test taking experience to date, so keep up the good work guys.
I’m looking forward to attending the OS X Server 10.8 course at LAI the training institute for IT professionals at the end of March. I’ll try to create another blog post about this as well.
But now back to the important stuff, here are my notes/summary. I hope it is useful. If you find any errors or have any suggestions, please leave a comment.
Notes / summary for the “OS X Support Essentials 10.8 Exam”
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