As Oracle continues to digest and dissect the virtualization acquisitions that it's made, it's clear that VirtualBox has now officially escaped the chopping block Oracle has continued to develop and introduce significant new features and improvements to the virtualization platform, and the company announced a new version last week: Version 3.2.0. This is the first version of VirtualBox to bear the Oracle logo, and it has received a new name in the process: Oracle VM VirtualBox.
In spite of surpassing 26 million downloads worldwide since October 2007 and receiving in excess of 40,000 downloads per day, VirtualBox may be one of the best-kept secrets among the world of Type 2 hypervisors or hosted virtualization platforms (it is installed on top of an existing host operating system). VirtualBox is a full, general-purpose virtualizer for x86 hardware that is targeted at server, desktop, and embedded use. And unlike its competition, it's free and open source.
This hosted virtualization platform has had quite a career for not being a part of the more famous virtualization establishments such as Citrix, Microsoft, Parallels, or VMware. The open source virtualization project is based upon the work of a German company called Innotek. In January 2007, the platform moved from a proprietary software license to an open source edition released as free software under the GNU GPL. In February 2008, Innotek and VirtualBox were scooped up by Sun Microsystems, and the product name was eventually changed to Sun xVM VirtualBox. But let's face it, no matter what Sun or Oracle does with the naming, users are simply going to continue to call it VirtualBox.
According to Oracle, Version 3.2.0 moves VirtualBox forward in three main areas, delivering significant improvements in performance, power, and supported guest operating system platforms.
VirtualBox 3.2.0 works with all of the latest Westmere variants of Intel's Core i5 and i7 processors for desktops and the Xeon 5600 series for servers. With these newer processors, Intel has added a new feature called unrestricted guest execution, which is now a supported feature in VirtualBox. If nested paging is enabled with VT-x, real mode and protected mode without paging code runs faster, which generally speeds up operating system boot times for guest operating systems running on VirtualBox. Large Page support has also been enabled with Intel VT-x and AMD-V technologies, providing faster lookups and shorter table creation times, which can also boost the performance of guest virtual machines.