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Xen Project Hypervisor Delivers Enhanced Performance and Security for Cloud and Enterprise Computing

By January 14, 2015March 6th, 2019Press Releases

Improved ARM server and Intel hardware support advance open source virtualization with new workloads and embedded use cases

SAN FRANCISCO, January 15, 2015 The Xen Project Collaborative Project hosted at The Linux Foundation today announced availability of Xen Project Hypervisor version 4.5.

The latest release builds on Xen Project hypervisors ability to deliver the performance, quality, security and scalability that todays large-scale and scale-out computing workloads demand. For x86-based solutions, improved cache monitoring technology provides faster processing and better utilization to resolve the noisy neighbor” dilemma when hosting large, resource-hungry data sets. With market demand growing for 64-bit ARM data centers, Xen Project Hypervisor now supports larger VMs on ARM, handling up to 1TB of guest RAM.

Were clearly ahead of the market with x86 performance and ARM architecture updates,” said Lars Kurth, Xen Project Advisory Board Chairman. This benefits our traditional strongholds where strong security, flexibility and multi-tenancy are required. At the same time, the new release opens up opportunities for Xen Project hypervisor in data mining, drones, avionics, Internet of Things, and automotive.

Xen Project software powers more than 10 million users across enterprise and cloud computing in addition to embedded and mobile devices. First to market with ARM support, many of the worlds largest companies and service providers use and invest in Xen Project software including Alibaba, Amazon Web Services, AMD, ARM, Cavium, Citrix, IBM Softlayer, Intel, Oracle, Rackspace, Verizon Terremark and many others.

The following new features and capabilities are available in Xen Project Hypervisor 4.5:

  • Major performance enhancements: Xen PVH virtualization mode now supports running as dom0 with Linux platforms on Intel CPUs. PVH is an extension to the classic Xen Project Paravirtualization (PV) that uses the hardware virtualization extensions available on modern servers. Requiring no additional support other than the hypervisor, PVH boots as the first guest and takes on the responsibilities of the initial domain known as dom0. This means Xen Project Hypervisor is able to take advantage of contemporary hardware features like virtual machine extensions (VMX) to significantly expedite execution of the initial domain. Instead of asking the hypervisor to handle certain operations, the dom0 can execute operations natively without compromising security. Additionally, improvements to the interrupt delivery mechanism for PCI passthrough workloads will help decrease latency and increase guest
  • Better utilization: Intel® Resource Director Technology (RDT) is designed to help IT managers improve performance and manageability for virtual machines running on Intel® Cache Monitoring Technology (CMT), the first of many features that will be included in RDT, can be used to monitor Last Level Cache (LLC) usage by application threads. With this information, administrators and management applications can balance workloads more efficiently to improve both application performance and physical resource utilization.
  • More Powerful High Availability: Coarse-grained Lock-stepping (COLO) will help improve business continuity in virtualized data centers and clouds. COLO enables the state of a primary VM (PVM) to be replicated on demand to a secondary VM (SVM) on a different physical system. Application agnostic and enabling near-instantaneous local and remote recovery from a failed VM, COLOto be fully integrated in a future release is built on top of the Remus project, a periodic VM checkpointing solution that was included in earlier versions of Xen Project hypervisor. 
  • ARM architecture updates: The new release supports larger VMs on ARM, handling up to 1TB of guest RAM. It also lowers the ARM virtualization overhead by supporting super page mappings in the hypervisor and faster interrupt EOIs with no maintenance interrupts. The release enhances interrupt handling on ARM by supporting priorities and irq migration (virtual and physical).  Developers can also securely and quickly boot Xen Project hypervisor on ARM using UEFI firmware. Coupling this with availability of all the QEMU PV backends (disk, console, keyboard, mouse, framebuffer), it offers near feature parity with x86. Additionally, many new IP blocks, firmware interfaces and platforms are supported, such as the AMD Seattle 64-bit server SoC.
  • New Introspection of HVM Guests Security Feature: Because of infrastructure changes, such as multi-EPT views and hardware acceleration for memory introspection, Xen now provides a base layer of significantly improved security. This enables hardware-enforced isolation, which is able to protect against kernel exploits, zero days, rootkits and other advanced malware attacks.
  • Updates for automotive and embedded systems: A new experimental multi-core enabled real-time scheduler is included in Xen Project Hypervisor, allowing users to predict timing and performance of VM to lay the groundwork for Xen in embedded and automotive software stacks.
  • Systemd support: Included as part of the Xen Project code base, systemd support eliminates maintenance involved with multiple Linux distributions.

Major contributions to this release come from AMD, Bitdefender, Cavium, Citrix, Fujitsu, GlobalLogic, Intel, Oracle, as well as several individual and academic institutions.

Comments From Xen Project Users and Contributors

From energy-efficient microservers to powerful mission-critical platforms, Intel architecture is driving increasing capability and higher value across multiple computing workloads,” said Mauri Whalen, Vice President, Software and Services Group and Director, Open Source Technology Center Core System Software, Intel Corporation. In combination with Xen Project technology, it underpins many of the worlds largest and most successful data centers and clouds and continues to set the standard for performance, flexibility, and value. With support for cache monitoring and VM checkpointing, Xen Project 4.5 offers new levels of efficiency and automation on Intel architecture, along with powerful new options for high availability and disaster recovery.

ARM-powered servers for cloud computing and data center servers took a big step forward when Cavium announced availability of ThunderX,™ the industrys first 48-core, dual socket capable family of ARMv8 workload optimized processors for next generation Data Center and Cloud,said Larry Wikelius, Xen Project advisory board member and Director of Ecosystems and Partner Enabling at Cavium.The Xen Project community continues to be incredibly forward-thinking in understanding how scale, workload, speed, performance and agility requirements are changing in todays demanding cloud and computing environments. Were pleased to see the Xen community dedicate significant resources and development cycles to ensuring full support, peak performance and efficiencies for ARM-based servers and SoCs.  Cavium is extremely excited about the performance and scale that we have accomplished running Xen on ThunderX.

“We are excited to be contributing to such an important project, which has a direct impact on our own automotive virtualization efforts,” said Alex Agizim, Vice President, Embedded Systems, at GlobalLogic. “We have seen significant performance improvements in our Nautilus platform after upgrading it to Xen Project 4.5, which we demonstrated in the GENIVI showcase at CES 2015 last week.”

Additional Resources

About Xen Project

Xen Project software is an open source virtualization platform with a similar governance structure to the Linux kernel. Designed from the start for cloud computing, the Project has more than a decade of development and is being used by more than 10 million users. A Collaborative Project at The Linux Foundation, the Xen Project community is focused on advancing virtualization in a number of different commercial and open source applications including server virtualization, Infrastructure as a Services (IaaS), desktop virtualization, security applications, embedded and hardware appliances. It counts many industry and open source community leaders among its members including: Amazon Web Services, AMD, ARM, CA Technologies, Cavium, Cisco, Citrix, Google, Intel, NetApp, Oracle, Rackspace, and Verizon Terremark. For more information about the Xen Project software and to participate, please visit


Sarah Conway

Xen Project
Media Contact