3 years ago

Transkernel: An Executor for Commodity Kernels on Peripheral Cores.

Liwei Guo, Shuang Zhai, Yi Qiao, Felix Xiaozhu Lin

Modern mobile and embedded platforms see a large number of ephemeral tasks driven by background activities. In order to execute such a task, the OS kernel wakes up the platform beforehand and puts it back to sleep afterwards. In doing so, the kernel operates various IO devices and orchestrates their power state transitions. Such kernel execution phases are lengthy, having high energy cost, and yet difficult to optimize. We advocate for relieving the CPU from these kernel phases by executing them on a low-power, microcontroller-like core, dubbed peripheral core, hence leaving the CPU off. Yet, for a peripheral core to execute phases in a complex commodity kernel (e.g. Linux), existing approaches either incur high engineering effort or high runtime overhead. We take a radical approach with a new executor model called transkernel. Running on a peripheral core, a transkernel executes the binary of the commodity kernel through cross-ISA, dynamic binary translation (DBT). The transkernel translates stateful kernel code while emulating a small set of stateless kernel services; it sets a narrow, stable binary interface for emulated services; it specializes for kernel's beaten paths; it exploits ISA similarities for low DBT cost. With a concrete implementation on a heterogeneous ARM SoC, we demonstrate the feasibility and benefit of transkernel. Our result contributes a new OS structure that combines cross-ISA DBT and emulation for harnessing a heterogeneous SoC. Our result demonstrates that while cross-ISA DBT is typically used under the assumption of efficiency loss, it can be used for efficiency gain, even atop off-the-shelf hardware.

Publisher URL: http://arxiv.org/abs/1811.05000

DOI: arXiv:1811.05000v1

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