If you've always wondered at the logic of running an anti-virus program within the operating system that you think might be infected, NEC might just have the answer.

Betanews has unearthed evidence that the company is about to launch a new range of notebooks featuring a 'hypervisor' built-in to the BIOS from Pheonix Technologies.

Built around an embedded Linux platform, the hypervisor operating system allows anti-virus and firewall applications to run outside the main operating system – meaning that a user is protected from threats even before the OS has booted. It also means that, in theory, nothing that the operating system does can affect the security applications; it doesn't matter how clever a particular bit of malware is, it will never be able to disable the anti-virus running on the hypervisor. In theory, at least.

Similar to the Splashtop embedded Linux OS developed by Asus but with a security-oriented thrust, the hypervisor – known as HyperCore – will be able to take advantage of virtualisation extensions built in to the latest generation of Intel chips in order to run at full speed without impacting the performance of the main operating system. Well, no more so than running an anti-virus package from within Windows would do, anyway.

The embedded Linux fun doesn't end there, either. HyperCore is part of the HyperSpace suite of technologies, and while the current plans are to implement ManageSpace – a security-oriented system that allows security applications to check for updates while simultaneously preventing Windows from having network access until given the all-clear – the company hasn't ruled out the possibility of using AppSpace as well; a more Splashtop-like embedded operating system designed to offer instant-on access to web browsing and media playback applications.

Do you approve of running vital security packages outside the main operating system, or should companies concentrate on making operating systems that don't need such third-party utilities to keep them secure? Share your thoughts over in the forums.
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