Hyper-V Server 2008 R2 Breaks Predecessor's Scalability Walls

Capacities of physical processors, logical processors, memory all increase dramatically.

The new version of Microsoft's free, standalone server-virtualization solution, Hyper-V, is a huge improvement over its predecessor.

Microsoft released Hyper-V Server 2008 R2 in late August. The new hypervisor has the capability to take advantage of greater computing resources compared with the company's first version. For example, with R2, Microsoft increased the number of physical processors supported from four to eight. The delta on logical processors is even more dramatic. While the original Hyper-V supported up to 16 logical processors, the new version can handle up to 64.

Physical memory support also takes a huge leap -- from a 32GB capacity to a 1TB limit. Supported guest operating systems include Windows Server 2008, Windows Server 2003, Windows Server 2000, SuSE Linux Enterprise Server 10 or 11 and Red Hat Enterprise Linux 5.2 and 5.3. Supported client operating systems are Windows 7, Windows Vista and Windows XP.

This release features Microsoft's built-in live migration capability. Live migration is designed to move virtual machines (VMs) with no perceived loss of uptime by users. It also can facilitate hardware updates -- such as basic input/output system (BIOS) changes or memory upgrades -- during planned downtimes. The VMs can be moved out before the hardware upgrade and then moved back when the work is completed.

Microsoft includes a "processor compatibility" feature in Hyper-V Server 2008 R2 that allows VMs to be moved across different processor generations, provided that the processors come from the same hardware vendor. So, for instance, users can move VMs across chipsets from Intel Corp. or across chipsets from Advanced Micro Devices Inc. -- but not across a mixture of the two.

Hyper-V Server 2008 R2 can run up to 384 VMs with up to 512 virtual processors per server, according to Microsoft's team blog. Management can be accomplished using Microsoft's free Remote Server Administration Tool for Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2 or using System Center Virtual Machine Manager 2008 R2.

Microsoft also made it easier for its original equipment manufacturer partners to ship the hypervisor. Hyper-V Server 2008 R2 also includes a new feature that lets users boot it from a flash drive.

About the Author

Kurt Mackie is senior news producer for 1105 Media's Converge360 group.