Citrix Systems is working with Intel to deliver a "bare metal" hypervisor for client PCs, which proponents say could broaden the use of desktop virtualisation by overcoming some of the technology's current shortcomings

The hypervisor should improve on today's desktop virtualisation by providing better security, because it runs independently of the client OS, and better performance for end users, because it allows applications to run on the local client instead of a remote server, the companies said.

"What this product will do at a high level is address some of the core challenges and core barriers that have kept client virtualisation solutions and usage models from being broadly adopted in the past," said Gregory Bryant, a vice president and general manager at Intel, in a call-in for press and analysts on Friday.

Citrix and Intel plan to deliver the hypervisor in the second half of this year. Intel will package it with the firmware it delivers to PC manufacturers, which the companies hope will preinstall it on desktop and laptop PCs. Citrix says it can also distribute the software with its own products.

"It's a case of building a hypervisor into the platform - into laptops and desktops - and trying to make virtualisation ubiquitous on all those machines," said Ian Pratt, founder of the open-source Xen project and a vice president at Citrix.

The hypervisor is the layer of software that manages interaction between a virtual machine and the underlying hardware. Most products for the client today are "Type 2" hypervisors, which install on a PC's host OS. Type 1 hypervisors are installed with the firmware beneath the OS, directly on the computer's "bare metal."