Linux KVM Virtualization comes to IBM Power servers soon

KVM, Linux's built-in hypervisor for the x86 chip family will be available at the end of this quarter for IBM's Power chip family.
Written by Steven Vaughan-Nichols, Senior Contributing Editor

Since 2007, when the Linux 2.6.20 kernel was released, Linux has had its own built-in hypervisor: Kernel-based Virtual Machine (KVM). What was nice about that was that it made virtualization easy if you were running virtual machines (VM) on Intel or AMD processors with virtualization extensions Intel TV or AMD-V, respectively. What wasn't so nice was that those were the only chips you could run KVM on. Almost a year ago, IBM promised that they would port KVM to its high-end Power architecture. Now, Big Blue is ready to deliver on their promise.


In a blog posting, Jim Wasko, Director of IBM’s Linux Technology Center, said "that a Power Systems version of KVM, PowerKVM, will be available on IBM’s next generation Power Systems servers tuned for Linux before the end of the quarter."

Porting KVM to Power has not been easy. IBM has been working hard on it since 2011. Sources say that PowerKVM will be available both from Red Hat and SUSE in their main enterprise Linux distributions, Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) and SUSE Linux Enterprise Server (SLES).

IBM is taking all this trouble, Wasko explained, not just to increase its deployment in the open source environment. First, "Linux users wanted a 'familiar' look-and-feel for virtualization and second, cloud solutions demand KVM's flexibility, performance, and OpenStack integration. We also recognize that for those who prefer to work in a pure Linux environment, working with KVM is highly desirable."

The importance of that OpenStack mention can't be understated. Wasko added, "Just like Linux, KVM for Power exploits the underlying hardware including multi-threading, large memory support, a range of I/O. It also comes with Kimchi — a graphical open-source tool for easy virtualization management of simple configurations. Larger configurations such as clouds can be managed with OpenStack-based tools." PowerKVM is clearly meant to help build OpenStack clouds on Power servers.

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