At the Intel Developer Forum (IDF) 2008, Intel showed on stage its upcoming new quad-core CPU codename Nehalem, much expected by the virtualization professionals because of the included Extended Page Tables (EPT) technology.
On top of that now there’s another reason to wait for Nehalem: the processor will support a new technology developed by VMware and called VMDirectPath.
VMDirectPath will allow ESX to avoid the emulation of network interface cards and map the physical NICs directly to the virtual machines:
Intel delivered a very interesting presentation about its effort to boost the hypervisor performance with VT-x, VT-d and VT-c technologies and slides from 27 to 32 are about VMDirectPath:
Nehalem CPUs for server use will be released no earlier than H2 2009.
VMware predicted that around that date the technology would completely cancel the performance degrade that virtualization introduces. It seems that to go there customers will have to bring with them a lot of hardware (and possibly drop a lot of flexibility).