In 2004 IBM is releasing new systems based on the POWER5 processor. There is new support in both the hardware and firmware for virtualization of multiple operating systems on a single platform. This includes the ability to have multiple operating systems share a processor. Additionally, a hypervisor firmware layer supports virtualization of I/O devices such as SCSI, LAN, and console, allowing limited physical resources in a system to be shared.
At its extreme, these new systems allow 10 Linux images per physical processor to run concurrently, contending for and sharing the system's physical resources. All changes to support these new functions are in the 2.4 and 2.6 Linux kernels.
This paper discusses the virtualization capabilities of the processor and firmware, as well as the changes made to the PPC64 kernel to take advantage of them.