Cross-ISA Execution Migration of Unikernels: Build Toolchain, Memory Alignment, and VM State Transfer Techniques

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Virginia Tech


The data centers are composed of resource-rich expensive server machines. A server, overloadeded with workloads, offloads some jobs to other servers; otherwise, its throughput becomes low. On the other hand, low-end embedded computers are low-power, and cheap OS-capable devices. We propose a system to use these embedded devices besides the servers and migrate some jobs from the server to the boards to increase the throughput when overloaded. The datacenters usually run workloads inside virtual machines (VM), but these embedded boards are not capable of running full-fledged VMs. In this thesis, we propose to use lightweight VMs, called unikernel, which can run on these low-end embedded devices. Another problem is that the most efficient versions of these boards have different instruction set architectures than the servers have. The ISA-difference between the servers and the embedded boards and the migration of the entire unikernel between them makes the migration a non-trivial problem. This thesis proposes a way to provide the unikernels with migration capabilities so that it becomes possible to offload workloads from the server to the embedded boards. This thesis describes a toolchain development process for building migratable unikernel for the native applications. This thesis also describes the alignment of the memory components between unikernels for different ISAs, so that the memory referencing remains valid and consistent after migration. Moreover, this thesis represents an efficient VM state transfer method so that the workloads experience higher execution time and minimum downtime due to the migration.



Operating Systems, Unikernels, Virtualization, Heterogeneous Systems