Mendel Rosenblum

Digital Library

ACM Charles P. "Chuck" Thacker Breakthrough in Computing Award

USA - 2018


For reinventing the virtual machine for the modern era and thereby revolutionizing datacenters and enabling modern cloud computing.

The cloud computing infrastructure today that supports the online services so vital to modern life depends on virtual machine technology. Yet, virtual machines — invented by IBM and others in the 1960s — fell out of favor in the 1980s and 1990s – so much so that processors of that era were no longer designed to be virtualizable.

Mendel Rosenblum and his students at Stanford University in the late 1990s brought virtual machines back to life by solving challenging technical problems to allow the dominant processor of that era, Intel's x86, to run virtual machine instances despite the fact that the underlying hardware was not virtualizable. To do this Mendel and his colleagues developed an innovative technique called "dynamic binary translation", based on Dr. Rosenblum's earlier work on high-performance simulation. In dynamic binary translation, the hypervisor identifies all code before it is executed, scans the code for non-virtualizable instructions, and replaces non-virtualizable instructions with trap instructions, so that the hypervisor can properly emulate the instructions. This allowed code to execute at nearly full speed while still preserving virtual machine semantics. Dr. Rosenblum and his team also made several other technical break-throughs to virtualize the complex x86 memory system.

In 1998 Mendel Rosenblum founded VMware along with Diane Greene, Edouard Bugnion, Scott Devine, and Ellen Wang. VMware popularized the use of virtual machines as a means of allowing many disparate software environments to share processor resources within a datacenter. This approach ultimately led to the development of modern cloud computing services such as Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure and Google Cloud.

Rosenblum's contributions are the embodiment of the spirit of the Thacker Award. Rosenblum made a surprising leap, discovering new uses for a technology that was widely considered to be obsolete and irrelevant. He led a team that solved challenging technical problems and created systems that made virtual machines practical. The consequences of his work have been deep and significant. Virtualization revolutionized datacenters and created multiple new markets, each with 10's of billions of dollars in annual revenues. Its impact is now felt throughout the computing industry. Without virtual machines, cloud computing would not exist as we know it today.

Press Release

ACM Software System Award

USA - 2009

VMware Workstation for Linux 1.0


For VMware Workstation 1.0, bringing virtualization technology to the Linux desktop, and creating a vibrant industry and research area around the technology.

Although the concept of virtualization was first explored in the 1960s in the context of mainframe computers, it languished until Mendel Rosenblum and his students at Stanford University rediscovered the idea as a simulation tool for new multiprocessor architectures. Realizing that virtualization could be used for actual execution and not just simulation, Rosenblum along with Diane Greene, Edouard Bugnion, Scott Devine, and Edward Wang founded VMware Inc. in 1998. Rosenblum, Bugnion, Devine, Wang, and VMware's first employee Jeremy Sugerman then designed and developed VMware Workstation 1.0 for Linux, bringing virtualization technology to the Linux desktop, and creating a vibrant industry and research area around the technology.

VMware Workstation 1.0 spurred a shift to virtual-machine-based architectures, allowing users to efficiently run multiple operating systems on their desktops. In subsequent years, the virtualization technology first introduced by the awardees was adopted by large-scale data-center operators in order to increase the efficient and safe use of shared computational resources. The broad and growing use of virtualization since the release of VMware Workstation 1.0 has caused the leading vendors of the x86 processor family to modify their designs to directly support virtualization. In addition to opening an important industry segment in virtualization technology, VMware Workstation 1.0 began a period of exciting new research in the areas of operating systems, networking, and software engineering.

ACM Fellows

USA - 2008


For contributions to reinventing virtual machines.

ACM Doctoral Dissertation Award

USA - 1992


For his dissertation "The Design and Implementation of a Log-structured File System."