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July 13th-16th, 2010
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TwinLinux:Running different Kernels on separate cores of a multicore system

Swapnil Arvind Pimpale (

There are three classes of common consumer and enterprise computing - Server, Interactive and Real-Time. These are characterized respectively by the need to obtain highest throughput, sustained responsiveness, and hard real-time guarantees. These are contradictory requirements hence it's not possible to implement an operating system to achieve all these goals. Most operating systems are designed towards serving only one of these classes and try to do justice to the other two classes to a reasonable extent.

We demonstrate a technique to overcome this limitation when a single hardware box is required to fulfill multiple of these computing classes. We propose to run different copies of kernels simultaneously on different cores of a multi-core system and provide synchronization between the kernels using IPIs (Inter Processor Interrupts) and common memory. Our solution enables users to run multiple operating systems each one the best for its class of computing. For ex., using our idea we can configure a quad core system with 2 cores dedicated for server class computing (database processing), 1 core for UI applications and remaining 1 core for real-time applications.

This idea has been used in the past, primarily on non-x86 processors and custom designed hardware. Our proposal opens the doors of this idea to the off-the shelf hardware resources. We present Twin-Linux, an implementation of this scenario for 2 processing units using Intel-Core-2-Duo system. This idea finds applications in - Filers,Intelligent Switches, Graphics Processing Engines, where different types of functions are performed in a pipelined manner.

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