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VMware demo reveals ESX 4.0 features

In Las Vegas, virtualization software maker says hypervisor update enables users to change RAM allocated to virtual machines sans reboot, configure them with up to eight virtual CPUs.

LAS VEGAS--VMware's forthcoming ESX Server 4.0 hypervisor update will allow users to change the amount of RAM allocated to virtual machines without rebooting them, VMworld 2008 attendees here heard Tuesday.

In addition, the new hypervisor will enable businesses to configure virtual machines with eight virtual CPUs and a maximum of 256GB RAM, VMware product manager Carter Shanklin said in a technical briefing at the Las Vegas conference. The current version of ESX Server supports a maximum of 64GB RAM and four CPUs per virtual machine.

Although there have been several rumors about ESX 4.0 published by bloggers, until now, VMware has been tight-lipped about new features in the hypervisor update, which is expected to be launched next year. The ability to "hot-add" RAM to virtual machines should help companies avoid disruption or downtime when they have to make a memory switch.

Shanklin revealed the ESX 4.0 features during a demonstration of VMware's free VMware Infrastructure (VI) Toolkit 1.5, in which he showed how its integrated Microsoft's PowerShell command-line interface could be used to adjust the configuration of a virtual machine running Microsoft Exchange. In the demonstration, the Exchange server virtual machine was upgraded from 1GB to 4GB of RAM without a reboot.

"Microsoft PowerShell is designed for automating the management of Windows applications. All Microsoft server products must support PowerShell to some degree, so time spent learning PowerShell will be time well spent," Shanklin said.

Hot-add memory support is a feature of Windows Server 2008 Enterprise Edition.

The VI Toolkit runs on top of Microsoft PowerShell and includes 125 command-line tools for managing servers running VMware ESX 3.5 and ESX3i. It is available free of charge as a download from the VMware Web site.

Roger Howorth of ZDNet UK reported from Las Vegas.