AMD demos live machine migration across three CPU generations

Sunnyvale (CA) – The journey from Barcelona to Shanghai to Istanbul is 11,057 miles as the crow flies. Still, AMD has recently demoed a video showing that the migration across these three destinations takes only a few seconds.

AMD has demoed a three CPU generation migration from separate servers running Barcelona (65nm, quad-core), Shanghai (45nm, quad-core) and Istanbul (45nm, six-core) cored CPUs. The various architectures were setup on machines available for purchase today and did not include in-house unreleased BIOS or equipment.

VMware ESX Server 3.5 controls allowed an instance of a guest OS running on the Barcelona core to be switched mid-flight (while running) to the Shanghai machine, where it immediately picked back up and continued processing. From there, it was rolled to the Istanbul, where it again continued processing.

During each migration, the entire machine’s state was transferred from one physical machine or box to another. The program paused for a few seconds while the transfer was made, leaving the virtual screen frozen. Once the transfer completed, the screen picked back up and processing continued without a hitch.

As a low-level assembly developer, I can tell you that this is an impressive feat due to the large quantity of low-level hardware emulation required to make an OS operate. There are supporting chipset and device settings which must be maintained virtually across machine boundaries. While the bulk of this is controlled by the VMware software, and enabled further by the virtualization extensions to the x86 and hypervisor, it is not without precedent. These features have been possible for quite some time in VMware’s server software.

This demonstration does show that existing server farms will be able to upgrade processors and not lose any abilities to operate under VMware.

AMD also announced their hardware is directly supported in Windows Server 2008 Hyper-V, and Microsoft Hyper-V Server 2008 (love Microsoft’s naming conventions) due to their close relationship with Microsoft — you may remember Microsoft began working with AMD on an x86-64 version of Windows even before Intel announced Yamhill (their x86-64 extension).

See AMD’s press release.