Thread Migration in a Replicated-Kernel OS

David Katz, Antonio Barbalace, Saif Ansary, Akshay Ravichandran, Binoy Ravindran

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

Abstract / Description of output

Chip manufacturers continue to increase the number of cores per chip while balancing requirements for low power consumption. This drives a need for simpler cores and hardware caches. Because of these trends, the scalability of existing sharedmemory system software is in question. Traditional operating systems (OS) for multiprocessors are based on shared memory communication between cores and are symmetric (SMP). Contention in SMP OSes over shared data structures is increasingly significant in newer generations of many-core processors. We propose the use of the replicated-kernel OS design to improve scalability over the traditional SMP OS. Our replicated-kernel design is an extension of the concept of the multikernel. While a multikernel appears to application software as a distributed network of cooperating microkernels, we provide the appearance of a monolithic, single-system image, task-based OS in which application software is unaware of the distributed nature of the underlying OS. In this paper we tackle the problem of thread migration between kernels in a replicated-kernel OS. We focus on distributed thread group creation, context migration, and address space consistency for threads that execute on different kernels, but belong to the same distributed thread group. This concept is embodied in our prototype OS, called Popcorn Linux, which runs on multicore x86 machines and presents a Linux-like interface to application software that is indistinguishable from theSMP Linux interface. By doing this, we are able to leverage the wealth of existing Linux software for use on our platform while demonstrating the characteristics of the underlying replicated-kernel OS. We show that a replicated-kernel OS scales as well as a multikernel OS by removing the contention on shared datastructures. Popcorn, Barrelfish, and SMP Linux are compared on selected benchmarks. Popcorn is shown to be competitive toSMP Linux, and up to 40% faster.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publication2015 IEEE 35th International Conference on Distributed Computing Systems
PublisherInstitute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE)
Number of pages10
ISBN (Electronic)978-1-4673-7214-5
Publication statusPublished - 23 Jul 2015
Event35th International Conference on Distributed Computing Systems - Columbus, United States
Duration: 29 Jun 20152 Jul 2015

Publication series

PublisherInstitute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE)
ISSN (Print)1063-6927


Conference35th International Conference on Distributed Computing Systems
Abbreviated titleICDCS 2015
Country/TerritoryUnited States
Internet address

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • Linux
  • multi-threading
  • shared memory systems
  • thread migration
  • operating systems
  • multiprocessors
  • shared memory communication
  • low power consumption
  • hardware caches
  • shared memory system software
  • SMP OSes
  • data structures
  • many-core processors
  • replicated-kernel OS design
  • scalability improvement
  • microkernels
  • single-system image
  • distributed thread group creation
  • context migration
  • address space consistency
  • distributed thread group
  • prototype OS
  • Popcorn Linux
  • Barrelfish Linux
  • Kernel
  • Message systems
  • Instruction sets
  • Data structures
  • Hardware
  • replicated-kernel OS


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