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One advantage of having multiple processor cores is that home and business computers can take advantage of virtualization. Virtualization is having one or two virtual machines on the same computer. Virtualization software, such as VMware Workstation, Oracle VM VirtualBox, or Microsoft Hyper-V, enables one computer to act as if it were two or more computers. The computer can have two or more operating systems installed through the use of the virtualization software. Each operating system would have no knowledge of the other operating system.

Windows 7 has Virtual PC and Windows 8 has Hyper-V, which allow an application to run in a virtual environment as if an older operating system had been installed. The concept of virtualization is of interest to businesses so that legacy software can be put on a newer machine but kept separate from the main operating system or another virtualized machine on the same computer. Reduced costs and physical space are benefits of virtualization. Home computer users can install multiple operating systems in separate VMs (virtual machines) within the same physical box, with each VM being seen as a separate computer. This would be important for those of you taking the CompTIA A+ certification. You could install Windows Visa, Windows 7, Windows 8, and Linux in order to better prepare for the exam.

Figure 3.15

Figure 3.15 The concept of virtualization

Selecting a motherboard and processor is important when in a virtual environment. Not all processors were designed for virtualization. Refer to the virtualization software documentation to determine whether the CPU used is allowed to be used in a virtual environment. Another issue regarding processors and virtualization is licensing. For virtualization software that must be purchased (that is, is not freeware), the software manufacturer can charge on a per-processor or per-socket license basis or a per-core basis. If a CPU has four cores, then pricing might play into what virtualization software is purchased.

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