Phoenix firmware with hypervisor to premiere Monday in NEC laptops

BetaNews has learned that, on Monday, NEC will roll out plans to include remotely manageable anti-virus technology in PC notebooks, running outside of the Windows OS in Linux-based HyperSpace firmware from Phoenix Technologies.

NEW YORK CITY (BetaNews) - Shauli Chaudhuri, vice president of marketing at Phoenix Technologies, told BetaNews this week that NEC will be among the first PC manufacturers to use its HyperSpace technology.

Use of the Phoenix firmware will allow security applications to operate before, during, and after Vista boots up and shuts down, securing the NEC notebooks before malware can get downloaded by Windows applications, according to Chaudhuri.

"HyperSpace is a result of our PC 3.0(tm) vision that is all about making a PC user's life much easier by making the PC experience rewarding," Chaudhuri elaborated, in an e-mail sent on Friday evening to BetaNews. "We believe PCs should be always on, and as simple and easy to use and maintain [as] a smartphone."

In a meeting with BetaNews on Thursday at this week's Digital Life press preview, the VP said that the HyperSpace platform allows software tools to run on Fedora Linux firmware in a secure firmware environment, even though Windows is installed on the same system. BetaNews was informed that Fedora Linux would be among the Linux platforms supported.

HyperSpace works with a hypervisor from Phoenix known as HyperCore, which is embedded within the core system firmware, or BIOS. As previously reported in BetaNews, the key idea behind HyperSpace is to be able to run software and remote support services even when Windows is down or otherwise disabled.

HyperSpace is designed to take advantage of capabilities such as Intel Virtualization Technology and Intel Trusted Execution, which are included in Intel's vPro business platform, which encompasses Core 2 Duo processors and Centrino Pro mobile technology.

For its part, HyperCore is a lightweight Zoned Virtual Machine Monitor (ZVMM) capable of running specialized core services side-by-side with Windows.

Specifically, NEC will be using a part of HyperSpace known as ManageSpace, which is capable of updating virus definition files while preventing Windows from accessing the network, according to the Phoenix executive.

"On Monday, we'll be announcing that NEC will be using HyperSpace to run anti-virus software outside of Windows. NEC, though, will not be using AppSpace at this time," Chaudhuri noted, following up with BetaNews on Friday. AppSpace enables instant-on Linux software applications, though it will not be part of NEC's initial buildout with HyperSpace.

"We are implementing PC 3.0 by taking advantage of the virtualization hardware built into most new laptops and desktops, adding an enhanced Linux and key embedded applications that comprise 80 percent of a user's day -- like an e-mail client and a Web browser," she told BetaNews.

"In addition to embedded commonly used applications, we have added a management layer that enables remote service bots and technicians to install, tune, and repair the software on a user's PC. Virus checking software will run in this space called ManageSpace, outside of Windows."

[EDITOR'S NOTE: A few technical corrections appear in the story above, most notably concerning the fact that the AppSpace feature will not be part of NEC's initial rollout of HyperSpace technology. -SF3]

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