AMD has produced a software emulator to demonstrate the virtualisation capabilities of its upcoming Pacifica technology.

SimNow will be available for download from AMD's website today. Although the company usually provides simulators to large software vendors prior to the release of a new hardware technology, AMD hopes to reach a larger number of software vendors and developers in this case by making the simulator publicly available, explained Margaret Lewis, commercial solutions strategist for AMD.

Pacifica is expected to be available in the first half of next year. It will allow PCs and servers to create separate virtual machines that can run different sets of software, and first appear in AMD's Opteron and Athlon 64 chips.

With the technology, an IT department would be able to create a section of a desktop or notebook that ran corporate applications, while dedicating another section of the device for personal use, Lewis said. If a user downloaded a virus onto the personal section of the PC, it wouldn't affect the corporate section or the rest of the corporate network.

A single server could run applications written for the Linux operating system on one virtual machine while running Windows applications on another virtual machine, Lewis added.

This capability already exists and is offered by companies such as VMWare, however AMD and Intel are planning to build transistors dedicated to virtualisation support into next year's crop of processors in order to improve the performance of virtualisation software.

SimNow will let software developers to test and qualify their products for Pacifica before the chips are released so that products are ready to go with the launch of the technology.