For those of you who watched the Synergy keynote today, you may have noticed a mention of an upcoming XenServer technical preview! I thought I’d give you some more details of what that preview is all about, and why 64-bit is so important. 

Isn’t XenServer 64-bit already?

Sort of! The Xen hypervisor, which is one component inside XenServer, has always been 64-bit, and XenServer can run both 32-bit and 64-bit guest operating systems. What is not (yet) 64-bit is XenServer’s Dom0 control domain, where the management of virtual machines is done, and the physical hardware is driven from.

Thus, when we say “64-bit XenServer”, we’re really meaning moving Dom0 from its 32-bit architecture to a 64-bit one.

Why is this good?

Moving to a fully 64-bit XenServer has significant implications for performance, scalability, and hardware support. The NVIDIA vGPU support that we announced at last year’s Synergy today supports up to 64 vGPUs per host, and up to 8 physical GPUs per host if you’re running GPU pass-through. Moving to a 64-bit platform will allow us to significantly increase these limits, allowing graphically-intensive XenDesktop workloads to be hosted at even greater densities, thereby reducing TCO even further.

As regards hardware support, we’ll be able to support many more PCI devices per host (e.g. virtual NICs), as well as devices that only offer 64-bit drivers (PCI-based SSDs being one important example). This means that you’ll be able to use XenServer on the latest large-scale hardware.

On the performance front, expect to see fruits from a significant amount of work that our Performance team have put into improving IO throughput: the numbers are pretty impressive!

What else is in the tech. preview?

I can’t give away details at the moment, but there’s much more than our move to a 64-bit architecture! We’re doing a lot of work on XenServer to make it even better for the 40% of XenDesktop customers who are on XS, and the 60+% of CloudPlatform customers who run it too: watch this space! 

Come and find out more!

If you’re at Synergy, come along to session SYN263 on Thursday 8th the to hear more about what’s new in XenServer, and a few more details of what will be in the tech. preview. If you’re not here in Anaheim, the slides will be posted to the web, and I’ll link to them when they’re up. We’ll be providing more details on the exact date of the preview, and where to obtain it, in the near future.