An early look at new Hyper-V features
The Windows Server 2008 R2 timeframe will also bring the next version of the Hyper-V technology. This new version can either be seen as Hyper-V R2 or Hyper-V v2.0 (depending on your opinion on Hyper-V) and comes with a load of new features and hardware support.
This information applies to Windows Server 2008 R2 during the pre-Beta timeframe. In the time up until the Release to Manufacturers (RTM) of the successor to Windows Server 2008, this information may change.
Quick Migration was a good feature to make virtual guests highly available through Windows Server 2008 Fail-over clustering. Good enough for a version 1.0 product anyway. The way Quick Migration works however makes it unsuitable for certain implementations and presents a couple of challenges in updating your environment.
Live Migration is the successor to Quick Migration. Live Migration doesn’t pause and start the virtual guest, but instead involves copying the memory of the virtual guest between two Hyper-V nodes and then performing a hand-over.
Virtual storage hot add & remove
While you can’t hot plug a storage controller in your virtual guests in Hyper-V R2, you can add and even remove a virtual disk to the virtual SCSI controller of the virtual guest, while the virtual guest is running.
Of course the Operating System (OS) in the virtual guest will need to support this. Windows Server supports hot plugging of drives since Windows Server 2003.
Cluster Shared Volume (CSV)
While not exactly a Hyper-V 2.0 feature, Cluster Shared Volumes (CSV) do offer nice functionality to Hyper-V R2 in Failover Clustering configurations.
Remember you need to place one virtual guest per LUN on your shared storage? Fixed!
Cluster Shared Volume offers simultaneous access to files on LUNs on your shared storage devices through a filter driver. Geert Baeke has more information on this feature and how it works under the hood.
Second Level Address Translation
Intel and AMD processors and motherboards that support them offer new technologies that allow better virtual management. Technologies like Enhanced Page Tables (EPT) in Intels thesaurus and Nested Page Tables (NPT), part of Rapid Virtualization Indexing (RVI) in AMDs dictionary spell the end of shadow page tables.
Your benefit as a virtual admin? When you have virtual machines that are very memory intensive this feature might prove to be a 10% performance improvement.
While new processors can certainly be useful when you want to improve your performance, they can also be used to reduce your power consumption. The basis for core parking is the fact you don’t need raw processor power for all virtual guests all the time.
Simply speaking a multi core processor will balance virtual guests over its processing cores. When the processor is intelligent enough it can decide to balance the virtual guests over fewer cores when fewer processing power is needed. The smartest processors around can then park these cores in sleep states where they don’t consume power. Intel and AMD make these kinds of processors.
When Hyper-V R2 is implemented on a system with such a processor it understands what the processor is trying to do and not freak out. Since the processor consumes around 30% of the total power consumed by a system there’s a lot of environmentally friendly power saving ahead and thus a lot less cooling required.
TCP Offloading, VMQ Support & Jumbo Frame support
Various networking improvements like TCP Offloading, Virtual Machine Queue (VMQ) and Jumbo Frame support allow the Network Interface Card (NIC) to perform a lot of the actions the processor would normally perform. When the NIC supports these features, Hyper-V will benefit from them, improving your network performance vastly.
The virtualization team is making a lot of progress on the new iteration of Hyper-V. They even documented the behavior of these features in the Windows Server 2008 R2 Reviewers Guide. Some of these feature are even part of the Milestone 3 release (a pre-beta release) of Windows Server 2008 R2. Microsoft is already able to demo these features.
Since Windows Server 2008 R2 will require a new license, now would be a good time to purchase Windows Server 2008 with Software Assurance if you’re serious about Microsoft Server virtualization.
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Disclaimer Beta Software
The information on this webpage applies to software from Microsoft that was in testing phase but utilizable by experienced users by the time the webpage was written. This software has not been released for sale, distribution or usage for the general public. The information on this webpage and the beta software are provided "as is" without warranty of any kind, either expressed or implied, including, but not limited to, the implied warranties of merchantability and fitness for a particular purpose.