Red Hat’s fifth iteration of RHEL 5 was released on March 29, 2010, and features support for Intel Nehalem EX, AMD Opteron (TM) 6000 Series (formerly codenamed “Magny Cours”) and IBM Power 7. This will enable customers to take advantage of more efficient hardware as quickly as possible. Intel just released Nehalem EX on Tuesday as well. The AMD 12-core x86 Opteron and IBM eight-core Power7 processors were released in February.
The RHEL 5.5 update provides a number of virtualization enhancements, and the support for new servers with large memory systems allows a larger number of virtual machines to be deployed on each physical server. Huge page support is now automatic and extended to virtual guests, improving the performance of memory-intensive applications. Support for Single Root I/O Virtualization (SR-IOV) offers virtual guests an improved ability to share PCI hardware resources and more efficient access I/O devices, and according to Red Hat, further I/O optimizations can help improve flexibility when migrating virtual guests across physical systems.
Tim Burke, vice president of platform engineering at Red Hat, shared some of the update specifics with The Register. Burke said that in RHEL 5.5 the operating system is more aware of the system topology and instruction streams and data are now physically close because of the memory allocation and job scheduling changes. More work is also placed on as few cores as possible due to kernel changes, which allows servers to conserve power.
RHEL 6 availability will be announced in June, and a beta of RHEL 6 should be available later in April according to a statement by Burke.