High Performance Inter-kernel Communication and Networking in a Replicated-kernel Operating System

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Virginia Tech


Modern computer hardware platforms are moving towards high core-count and heterogeneous Instruction Set Architecture (ISA) processors to achieve improved performance as single core performance has reached its performance limit. These trends put the current monolithic SMP operating system (OS) under scrutiny in terms of scalability and portability. Proper pairing of computing workloads with computing resources has become increasingly arduous with traditional software architecture.

One of the most promising emerging operating system architectures is the Multi-kernel. Multi-kernels not only address scalability issues, but also inherently support heterogeneity. Furthermore, provide an easy way to properly map computing workloads to the correct type of processing resources in presence of heterogeneity. Multi-kernels do so by partitioning the resources and running independent kernel instances and co-operating amongst themselves to present a unified view of the system to the application. Popcorn is one the most prominent multi-kernels today, which is unique in the sense that it runs multiple Linux instances on different cores or group of cores, and provides a unified view of the system i.e., Single System Image (SSI).

This thesis presents four contributions. First, it introduces a filesystem for Popcorn, which is a vital part to provide a SSI. Popcorn supports thread/process migration that requires migration of file descriptors which is not provided by traditional filesystems as well as popular distributed file systems, this work proposes a scalable messaging based file descriptor migration and consistency protocol for Popcorn.

Second, multi-kernel OSs rely heavily on a fast low latency messaging layer to be scalable. Messaging is even more important in heterogeneous systems where different types of cores are on different islands with no shared memory. Thus, another contribution proposes a fast-low latency messaging layer to enable communication among heterogeneous processor islands for Heterogeneous Popcorn.

With advances in networking technology, newest Ethernet technologies are able to support up to 40 Gbps bandwidth, but due to scalability issues in monolithic kernels, the number of connections served per second does not scale with this increase in speed.Therefore, the third and fourth contributions try to address this problem with Snap Bean, a virtual network device and Angel, an opportunistic load balancer for Popcorn's network system.

With the messaging layer Popcorn gets over 30% performance benefit over OpenCL and Intel Offloading technique (LEO). And with NetPopcorn we achieve over 7 to 8 times better performance over vanilla Linux and 2 to 5 times over state-of-the-art Affinity Accept.



Operating System, System Software, Network Stack, Replicated Kernels, Filesystem