In virtual computing the Hypervisor is the component that manages and runs the virtual machines. It can be a software running on top of a host operating system or can be a hardware/firmware component that runs without the need for a host operating system.
A hypervisor is computer software, firmware or hardware that allows partitioning the resource of a CPU among multiple operating systems or independent programs. IBM coined the term hypervisor for the 360/65 and later used it for the DIAG handler of CP-67. The contemporary usage is for virtual machine monitor (VMM) or virtualizer, similar to an emulator; it is computer software, firmware or hardware that creates and runs virtual machines. A computer on which a hypervisor runs one or more virtual machines is called a host machine, and each virtual machine is called a guest machine. The hypervisor presents the guest operating systems with a virtual operating platform and manages the execution of the guest operating systems. Multiple instances of a variety of operating systems may share the virtualized hardware resources: for example, Linux, Windows, and macOS instances can all run on a single physical x86 machine. This contrasts with operating-system–level virtualization, where all instances (usually called containers) must share a single kernel, though the guest operating systems can differ in user space, such as different Linux distributions with the same kernel.
The term hypervisor is a variant of supervisor, a traditional term for the kernel of an operating system: the hypervisor is the supervisor of the supervisors, with hyper- used as a stronger variant of super-. The term dates to circa 1970; in the earlier CP/CMS (1967) system, the term Control Program was used instead.