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VMware announces tech preview of Arm hypervisor – Fusion on Apple's M1 silicon

And names a new CTO

VMware has kind-of announced a hypervisor for Arm processors, or at least one of them: Apple's M1 system-on-a-chip.

Michael Roy, who oversees VMware's Fusion and Workstation desktop hypervisors, took to Twitter with the news that Fusion for M1 is now in a closed tech preview.

Later tweets from Roy suggest that a public tech preview will follow in a couple of weeks. If VMware holds true to form the product will be real by year's end – maybe even in early October at the VMworld gabfest, at which new cuts of VMware's desktop hypervisors have often been released.

Roy answered a few questions about Fusion for M1's features and revealed:

  • Windows 10 will work, but Fusion will ship without drivers nor VMware Tools, and won't be supported because Microsoft currently does not sell licences of Windows 10 Arm for virtual machines.
  • It won't run macOS 12 VMs. "We have to use a whole different set of APIs, and that breaks ESXi compatibility," Roy wrote.
  • Support for GPU-equipped VMs is on the development roadmap. For now, Ubuntu VMs can only do 3D with on-CPU graphics.
  • Connections to VMs on other VMware hypervisors on other architectures will be possible.

Whenever Fusion for M1 arrives, it has competition waiting in the form of Parallels Desktop which, as we wrote last month, does a very fine job of running Windows 10 on Apple silicon.

VMware has two other efforts to bring its flagship ESXi hypervisor to Arm silicon. One is the "fling" that runs on devices including the Raspberry Pi. The other is Project Monterey – an effort to get ESXi running on accelerator cards.

Virtzilla thinks the latter effort has the potential to create a new normal for data centre architecture in which CPU cores are relieved of the need to do housekeeping work like running network traffic. Intel agrees and has made hand-off of such chores to accelerator cards a feature of its forthcoming Sapphire Rapids Xeon server processor.

Figuring out how to make that all work is now the job of Kit Colbert, who was today promoted to VMware Chief Technology Officer.

Colbert was previously CTO of VMware Cloud and has also worked in roles covering cloud-native application development, end-user computing, and was the technical lead for the company's vMotion workload teleportation tech. He replaces Greg Lavender, who followed former VMware CEO Pat Gelsinger to Intel. ®

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