VMware's ESX Server 1.5 software, like previous editions, allows servers and workstations to run multiple copies of either Windows or Linux operating systems on the same computer. This makes it possible, for example, to put several Web servers on one Intel-based server instead of running Web servers on several systems.
ESX Server 1.5 is aimed at data centres and can support up to 64 concurrent virtual machines. It can also address up to 64Gbytes of RAM, and permits each virtual machine to use up to 3.6Gbytes of RAM.
Because of its ability to use more memory, the new version also allows for more applications to be run on one physical server.
The software typically runs on servers with two to eight processors and lets an administrator adjust CPU, memory and bandwidth resources on the fly for each partition.
Pricing for ESX Server 1.5 starts at $3,750 (£2,573) for a two-processor server and rises to $10,000 (£6,863) for a server with eight processors. The software is already available in the US but will soon be available worldwide.
VMware is in a partnership with IBM to co-develop this type of partitioning technology for IBM's Intel-based server line. With the ESX Server software, the companies are touting expanded processing capabilities at a reduced cost, because users would require fewer Intel servers and would not have to pay for high-end hardware.
VMware aims to make its products available for the growing blade server market and for Intel's higher-end 64-bit Itanium processors.
The mainframe-like partitioning features of VMware's software could help users manage a number of applications on Itanium servers and make the hardware more competitive against Unix servers.
VMware has also released the latest beta version of its lower-end GSX Server 2.0 software.