Akaros – an open source operating system for manycore architectures

Akaros – an open source operating system for manycore architectures

From the post:

If you are interested in future foward OS designs then you might find Akaros worth a look. It’s an operating system designed for many-core architectures and large-scale SMP systems, with the goals of:

  • Providing better support for parallel and high-performance applications
  • Scaling the operating system to a large number of cores

A more indepth explanation of the motiviation behind Akaros can be found in Improving Per-Node Ef´Čüciency in the Datacenter with NewOS Abstractions by Barret Rhoden, Kevin Klues, David Zhu, and Eric Brewer.

From the paper abstract:

Traditional operating system abstractions are ill-suited for high performance and parallel applications, especially on large-scale SMP and many-core architectures. We propose four key ideas that help to overcome these limitations. These ideas are built on a philosophy of exposing as much information to applications as possible and giving them the tools necessary to take advantage of that information to run more efficiently. In short, high-performance applications need to be able to peer through layers of virtualization in the software stack to optimize their behavior. We explore abstractions based on these ideas and discuss how we build them in the context of a new operating system called Akaros.

Rather than “layers of virtualization” I would say: “layers of identifiable subjects.” That’s hardly surprising but it has implications for this paper and future successors on the same issue.

Issues of inefficiency aren’t due to a lack of programming talent, as the authors ably demonstrate, but rather the limitations placed upon that talent by the subjects our operating systems identify and permit to be addressed.

The paper is an exercise in identifying different subjects than those identified in contemporary operating systems. That abstraction may assist future researchers in positing different subjects for identification and consequences that flow from identifying different subjects.

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