The architecture of virtual machines
A virtual machine can support individual processes or a complete system depending on the abstraction level where virtualization occurs. Some VMs support flexible hardware usage and software isolation, while others translate from one instruction set to another. Virtualizing a system or component -such as a processor, memory, or an I/O device - at a given abstraction level maps its interface and visible resources onto the interface and resources of an underlying, possibly different, real system. Consequently, the real system appears as a different virtual system or even as multiple virtual systems. Interjecting virtualizing software between abstraction layers near the HW/SW interface forms a virtual machine that allows otherwise incompatible subsystems to work together. Further, replication by virtualization enables more flexible and efficient and efficient use of hardware resources.