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Hyper-V Windows 2012 Features : Release Preview

Author by Nathan Lasnoski

Wow. I'm very excited about what Microsoft is doing with Hyper-V in Windows 8.  Microsoft is delivering some awesome capabilities to the new Hyper-V virtualization stack. You can tell that Microsoft has listened to the market, customers, and partners and is delivering features which address key virtualization goals. In this post I'll overview the new features shared in the Release Preview.  

Hyper-V in Windows 8: Feature Overview

Hyper-V Windows 8 Scale, CPU, and Memory

The new scalability features say to me "virtualize anything". The virtual machine size and cluster sizes are off the charts. Now… to find a server with 160 logical processors and 2 TB of RAM to test with. Any takers? Here are the key metrics.
  • Up to 160 processors on host
  • Up to 2 TB memory on host
  • Up to 64 VPs per VM  (up from 32!)
  • Up to 1 TB RAM per VM
  • 64 TB per VHDX
  • 32 nodes and 4000 VMs in cluster
  • Guest NUMA (project guest NUMA topology into guest)

Hyper-V Replica

This technology is a game changer. It delivers cross-site failover capabilities out of box, vs. having to purchase a third party product. Imagine replicating virtual machines from clusters to failover hosts, with multiple recovery points, and pre-built recovery automation. Microsoft is very good at creating technologies "for the masses", where a business need like cross-site failover is made stunningly easier through an out of box feature like this. You can check out more about Hyper-V replica in the post about the WWPC (36 minute mark): Here is a configuration guide for Hyper-V Replica: Here is a monitoring guide for Hyper-V Replica:  

Hyper-V Windows 8 Storage

Several major advancements have been made to storage within the Hyper-V platform, including a new VHD format, support for larger disks, and optimizations to snapshot processing. I'm most excited about online snapshot merge and the large VHD files. I feel that companies will very much benefit from the abstraction of the VHD at even larger disk sizes, since it releases the storage organization from the underlying disk provisioning.
  • New VHD format (vhdx) - 64 TB maximum size!
  • Greater than 2 TB disks (exabytes…)
  • Better performance (eliminate alignment issues)
  • Resilient to corruption, especially during power failures
  • Larger block sizes for different workloads
  • Virtual fiber channel adaptor
  • Drastically improved check disk process (including live disk fixing capabilities)
  • Data deduplication support for virtual machine data

Hyper-V Windows 8 Networking and Optimizations

Microsoft has built a full networking stack for the Windows Server platform that includes a built-in network switch. Note that not only is this a network switch, but also is very extensible, especially for taps for security tools, monitoring, and other third parties. It alsoincludes SR-IOV, which will allow for VERY high network performance for virtual machines.
  • Virtual switch with controls, taps, and mirroring
  • Load balancing through the host system out-of-box teams
  • Bandwidth controls
  • Focus on multi-tenancy and segmentation
  • New vSwitch features:
    • Port ACL, QoS
    • Arp Poisoning / ND protection / router guard / DHCP guard
    • PVLAN, VLAN trunk mode
    • Port mirroring
    • IPsec Offloads
    • Diagnostics
    • vSwitch PowerShell
  • Consistent Device Naming: NIC names from chassis can pass to OS
  • SR-IOV: Passthrough, High IO
  • Virtual Machine Queue (DVMQ)'
  • Receive Side Scaling
  • IPSec Task Offload

Windows 8 Virtual Machine Mobility

The mobility features can be summarized as "move anywhere, anytime". This includes Live Migration from host to host, even without shared storage. Also, there is a big change in that Microsoft will support unlimited concurrent live migrations. This allows for the offloadingof virtual machines from a host theoretically faster, as you can better utilize the bandwidth available on the live migration network.
  • Live Migration without clustering (WOW!)
  • Live Migration without shared storage
  • Live Storage migrations
  • Concurrent live migrations (unlimited)
  Live Migration without Shared Storage Configuration Guide:   More information on new networking features:  

Hyper-V over SMB2

The use of file server storage for virtual machines is now encouraged, thanks to optimizations built into SMB 2.2. This technology allows for the usage of lower cost file server solutions where it is deemed appropriate, with the expectation of great performance. This supports fancy (and necessary) features like SMB Direct (RDMA) and SMB2 Multichannel.   New VDI features:


Great Further Reading

Check out these other sites about Windows 8! It is very exciting to see where Microsoft is going with this technology.  Happy virtualizing! Nathan Lasnoski

Nathan Lasnoski

Chief Technology Officer