LONDON Ė A researcher from Microsoft is due to present an operating system that has been written to cope with the scaling of cores in processor chips, at the Intel European Research and Innovation Conference (Intel-ERIC) being held in Germany Sept. 21 and 22.
Richard Black, principal research software development engineer at Microsoft Research Cambridge, is due to present the Barrelfish research operating system on Sept. 22 in Braunschweig, Germany. Barrelfish, based on a multikernel architecture, addresses the scalability as the number of processor cores increases and processor and system heterogeneity.
Barrelfish has been under development since October 2007 at the ETH in Zurich, and at Microsoft Research in Cambridge. It is intended as a research vehicle to allow the exploration of ideas for operating systems to run on future hardware.
Black's presentation on Barrelfish is not the first. A paper was presented at the ACM Symposium on Operating Systems Principles (SOSP) held at Big Sky, Montana, in October 2009. The paper was entitled The Multikernel: A new OS architecture for scalable multicore systems.
The authors of that paper argued that the challenge to future multicore hardware is best met by embracing aspects of networking and distributed systems and avoiding the problems of memory sharing and cache coherency protocol problems. The multikernel treats the machine as a network of independent cores, assumes no inter-core sharing and maps traditional OS functionality to a distributed system of processes that communicate via message-passing.
Barrelfish is a particular implementation of the multikernel OS approach and the research team has made the source code available to other researchers. Barrelfish is written in C or assembler, and it runs on 64-bit x86 platforms although a port to ARM is referenced in the SOSP paper. This will allow more research of heterogeneous systems.
The Intel-ERIC event continues in Leixlip, Ireland on October 12, 13 and 14.
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