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VMware starts tracking use of experimental Arm hypervisor

By watching how you use it, Virtzilla might figure out how to sell it

VMware will start tracking customers' use of its experimental hypervisor for Arm CPU cores. But don't worry – it's not too creepy.

Version 1.10 of the ESXi-Arm Fling – VMware's solid but unsupported Arm hypervisor – was announced yesterday with added functionality that "reports some telemetry information to VMware … to best gauge interest in specific use-case scenarios, hardware platforms and I/O devices."

Each Saturday at midnight, kit running the hypervisor will phone home to VMware to report:

  • CPU info – core count, NUMA, manufacturer, etc.;
  • Firmware info – vendor, version;
  • Platform info – vendor, product, UUID, PCI device list;
  • ESXi-Arm info – version, patch level, product build.

VMware says no personal information will be reported, and has revealed that the telemetry data can even be inspected by users willing to navigate to /bin/telemetry.

The ESXi on Arm Fling was launched in October 2021 and has since added support for more Arm CPUs including Ampere Altra processors that are offered in all major clouds. Earlier this week VMware president Sumit Dhawan told The Register his company has no immediate plans to turn the hypervisor into a product, despite Virtzilla's strategy to offer a consistent environment spanning multiple clouds and devices.

Slurping telemetry from the code suggests VMware is keen to learn more about how it could usefully productize or improve the hypervisor.

Version 1.10 of the ESXi-Arm Fling has also added the option to be deployed as an upgrade from older versions – a nice improvement, as upgrades previously required a fresh installation.

VMware has two other hypervisors for Arm in the works. One is its Fusion desktop hypervisor for macOS, which product manager Michael Roy this week revealed will shortly emerge as a tech preview on Apple Arm-compatible silicon.

The other is part of Project Monterey – the vendor's project to bring security and networking workloads to SmartNICs by creating a hypervisor that can run on the SoCs that are baked into beefed-up networking cards. VMware is pitching Project Monterey as the next evolution for the datacenter, but has been very cagey about when it might debut. ®

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