Weblogic Authors: Yeshim Deniz, Elizabeth White, Michael Meiner, Michael Bushong, Avi Rosenthal

Related Topics: Containers Expo Blog

Containers Expo Blog: Article

Virtualization for Deeply Embedded Applications

Virtualization has penetrated far into the enterprise; now it's begun the march into portable electronics:

In networking applications, primarily using multi-core devices, there are considerable advantages in virtualization.  For example virtualization allows for considerably more efficient load balancing as it is now possible to move virtual machines, and their hosted process, from core to core dynamically as conditions change. This same mechanism can drive power savings as it’s now possible to consolidate processing on fewer cores during low traffic periods and shut down unused cores. Higher up-time is possible as it is now possible to download updated firmware in the background, validate the new image, and then migrate process to the new firmware, all without taking the system off line. In systems where it’s necessary to support many different firmware versions this capability is enormously compelling.
In highly secure environments it is now possible to add a secure processing element to an SOC, without having to have a separate security processor. The Payment Card Industry Pin Entry Device (PCI-PED) certification imposes an extremely rigorous set of requirements on manufacturers from the standpoint of separating the user interface from the pin entry device.  With virtualization what had previously required two devices, can now be accomplished with a single physical device, with a hypervisor hosting multiple secure execution environments, one for the user interface, and one for the pin entry device.
In applications where there is a concern about how best to preserve proprietary IP, and still get the benefit from using open source code released under GPL, virtualization provides a way of isolating those two domains.  Integrate GPL code with your proprietary IP, and under the terms of the license, you have to release the full source.  With virtualization it’s now possible to compartmentalize the GPL code, and control the amount of proprietary code that must be released to the public.  (http://www.trango-vp.com/dynamic/front_downloadFile.php?fileName=TGO-TEC-0340-TRANGO_GPL.pdf registration required)
Key Criteria in Selecting a Hypervisor
There are numerous ways of creating virtual machines for embedded applications. While just assigning a name to a particular approach does very little to illuminate the critical issues, it is important to understand the foundation upon which a product design is undertaken as it quite often has substantial impacts on the design’s final character. 
We’ve labeled the most typical approaches to virtualization that we run across in our day to day work as microscheduler, microkernel, and ‘nanokernel’ (I’ll explain the quotes later).  After a quick once-over of each approach I’ll try to focus on key attributes that customers should be aware of.
In a microkernel, an OS kernel is stripped down to its bare essence by removing services that are not strictly required to allow the microkernel to run.  This leaves thread management, interprocess communications, scheduling, and address management.  Hooks and catches are then put in place that allow designers to add those services at a user level.  What this means in practice is that the user mode/kernel mode separation is maintained so a high level of security and robustness is similarly achieved.  But, due to the nature of the originating kernel architecture, there are architectural preferences in the nature of the hosted OS.  In other words, a Linux derived microkernel will have an affinity for hosting Linux as a guest OS.
A microscheduler is a closely related approach to that of a microkernel but while the scheduling portion itself runs in kernel mode or the highest privilege level of the system as is the case with a microkernel, at the same time guest operating systems are also allowed to run at this same extremely high privilege level.  What this means in practice is that the guest operating system must be well behaved both from a performance and a security perspective.  This partially eliminates one of the key strengths of virtualization; security.  Robustness is also compromised as a crash on the part of a privileged guest OS or application can still do extensive damage as it’s running “bare metal” and able to bypass protections that are available in a fully virtualized processing environment.
Another approach to creating a hypervisor, is to create a hardware abstraction layer or HAL, and add services such as time management, memory management, and interprocess communications to make a useful hypervisor.  “Nanokernel” is a term that I use with some fear and trepidation as it seems that the word was coined more to separate more modern and streamlined microkernel implementations from first-generation implementations such as “Mach.”  While the term may be imprecise, it will have to do until a more precise way of describing this approach comes along.  “HAL-Like” really doesn’t do it justice and, full disclosure, this is the approach that Trango subscribes to.  The key practical difference in this approach and that of typical microkernels is this; as the basis for the creation of the HAL is the underlying SOC, rather than an OS port that just happened to target that SOC, the hypervisor is typically thinner and lighter, and the hypervisor is less ‘picky’ about the specific details of a hosted OS.  In other words, as an approach it tends to be more OS agnostic and a better reflection of the underlying hardware.
The good news is that there are lots of good choices out there, and the technology has enormous capabilities.  It’s all a matter of looking at the CPU as one of many virtual devices rather than as unitary and fixed and of keeping an eye out for applications for embedded device programming’s newest tool.

More Stories By Frank Altschuler

Frank Altschuler is in charge of marketing for Trango Virtual Processors, a leading provider of embedded virtualization IP. He has just recently joined Trango from Newisys where he was in charge of marketing for their X86 scaling solutions. He has previously held marketing positions at Starcore LLC, a DSP Intellectual property firm, and Cirrus Logic, a fabless semiconductor company. Prior to moving into marketing, Altschuler spent 15 years in engineering design and development in areas such as communications and electro-optics.
He has earned a bachelor's degree in electrical engineering from North Carolina State University. For more information on Trango Virtual Processors, please visit http://www.trango-vp.com or email [email protected]

Comments (0)

Share your thoughts on this story.

Add your comment
You must be signed in to add a comment. Sign-in | Register

In accordance with our Comment Policy, we encourage comments that are on topic, relevant and to-the-point. We will remove comments that include profanity, personal attacks, racial slurs, threats of violence, or other inappropriate material that violates our Terms and Conditions, and will block users who make repeated violations. We ask all readers to expect diversity of opinion and to treat one another with dignity and respect.

@ThingsExpo Stories
DX World EXPO, LLC, a Lighthouse Point, Florida-based startup trade show producer and the creator of "DXWorldEXPO® - Digital Transformation Conference & Expo" has announced its executive management team. The team is headed by Levent Selamoglu, who has been named CEO. "Now is the time for a truly global DX event, to bring together the leading minds from the technology world in a conversation about Digital Transformation," he said in making the announcement.
"Space Monkey by Vivent Smart Home is a product that is a distributed cloud-based edge storage network. Vivent Smart Home, our parent company, is a smart home provider that places a lot of hard drives across homes in North America," explained JT Olds, Director of Engineering, and Brandon Crowfeather, Product Manager, at Vivint Smart Home, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @ThingsExpo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
SYS-CON Events announced today that Conference Guru has been named “Media Sponsor” of the 22nd International Cloud Expo, which will take place on June 5-7, 2018, at the Javits Center in New York, NY. A valuable conference experience generates new contacts, sales leads, potential strategic partners and potential investors; helps gather competitive intelligence and even provides inspiration for new products and services. Conference Guru works with conference organizers to pass great deals to gre...
The Internet of Things will challenge the status quo of how IT and development organizations operate. Or will it? Certainly the fog layer of IoT requires special insights about data ontology, security and transactional integrity. But the developmental challenges are the same: People, Process and Platform. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Craig Sproule, CEO of Metavine, demonstrated how to move beyond today's coding paradigm and shared the must-have mindsets for removing complexity from the develop...
In his Opening Keynote at 21st Cloud Expo, John Considine, General Manager of IBM Cloud Infrastructure, led attendees through the exciting evolution of the cloud. He looked at this major disruption from the perspective of technology, business models, and what this means for enterprises of all sizes. John Considine is General Manager of Cloud Infrastructure Services at IBM. In that role he is responsible for leading IBM’s public cloud infrastructure including strategy, development, and offering m...
"Evatronix provides design services to companies that need to integrate the IoT technology in their products but they don't necessarily have the expertise, knowledge and design team to do so," explained Adam Morawiec, VP of Business Development at Evatronix, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @ThingsExpo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
To get the most out of their data, successful companies are not focusing on queries and data lakes, they are actively integrating analytics into their operations with a data-first application development approach. Real-time adjustments to improve revenues, reduce costs, or mitigate risk rely on applications that minimize latency on a variety of data sources. In his session at @BigDataExpo, Jack Norris, Senior Vice President, Data and Applications at MapR Technologies, reviewed best practices to ...
Widespread fragmentation is stalling the growth of the IIoT and making it difficult for partners to work together. The number of software platforms, apps, hardware and connectivity standards is creating paralysis among businesses that are afraid of being locked into a solution. EdgeX Foundry is unifying the community around a common IoT edge framework and an ecosystem of interoperable components.
Large industrial manufacturing organizations are adopting the agile principles of cloud software companies. The industrial manufacturing development process has not scaled over time. Now that design CAD teams are geographically distributed, centralizing their work is key. With large multi-gigabyte projects, outdated tools have stifled industrial team agility, time-to-market milestones, and impacted P&L stakeholders.
"Akvelon is a software development company and we also provide consultancy services to folks who are looking to scale or accelerate their engineering roadmaps," explained Jeremiah Mothersell, Marketing Manager at Akvelon, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 21st Cloud Expo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
"IBM is really all in on blockchain. We take a look at sort of the history of blockchain ledger technologies. It started out with bitcoin, Ethereum, and IBM evaluated these particular blockchain technologies and found they were anonymous and permissionless and that many companies were looking for permissioned blockchain," stated René Bostic, Technical VP of the IBM Cloud Unit in North America, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 21st Cloud Expo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Conventi...
In his session at 21st Cloud Expo, Carl J. Levine, Senior Technical Evangelist for NS1, will objectively discuss how DNS is used to solve Digital Transformation challenges in large SaaS applications, CDNs, AdTech platforms, and other demanding use cases. Carl J. Levine is the Senior Technical Evangelist for NS1. A veteran of the Internet Infrastructure space, he has over a decade of experience with startups, networking protocols and Internet infrastructure, combined with the unique ability to it...
22nd International Cloud Expo, taking place June 5-7, 2018, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY, and co-located with the 1st DXWorld Expo will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world. Cloud computing is now being embraced by a majority of enterprises of all sizes. Yesterday's debate about public vs. private has transformed into the reality of hybrid cloud: a recent survey shows that 74% of enterprises have a hybrid cloud ...
"Cloud Academy is an enterprise training platform for the cloud, specifically public clouds. We offer guided learning experiences on AWS, Azure, Google Cloud and all the surrounding methodologies and technologies that you need to know and your teams need to know in order to leverage the full benefits of the cloud," explained Alex Brower, VP of Marketing at Cloud Academy, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 21st Cloud Expo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clar...
Gemini is Yahoo’s native and search advertising platform. To ensure the quality of a complex distributed system that spans multiple products and components and across various desktop websites and mobile app and web experiences – both Yahoo owned and operated and third-party syndication (supply), with complex interaction with more than a billion users and numerous advertisers globally (demand) – it becomes imperative to automate a set of end-to-end tests 24x7 to detect bugs and regression. In th...
"MobiDev is a software development company and we do complex, custom software development for everybody from entrepreneurs to large enterprises," explained Alan Winters, U.S. Head of Business Development at MobiDev, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 21st Cloud Expo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
Coca-Cola’s Google powered digital signage system lays the groundwork for a more valuable connection between Coke and its customers. Digital signs pair software with high-resolution displays so that a message can be changed instantly based on what the operator wants to communicate or sell. In their Day 3 Keynote at 21st Cloud Expo, Greg Chambers, Global Group Director, Digital Innovation, Coca-Cola, and Vidya Nagarajan, a Senior Product Manager at Google, discussed how from store operations and ...
"There's plenty of bandwidth out there but it's never in the right place. So what Cedexis does is uses data to work out the best pathways to get data from the origin to the person who wants to get it," explained Simon Jones, Evangelist and Head of Marketing at Cedexis, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 21st Cloud Expo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
SYS-CON Events announced today that CrowdReviews.com has been named “Media Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 22nd International Cloud Expo, which will take place on June 5–7, 2018, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. CrowdReviews.com is a transparent online platform for determining which products and services are the best based on the opinion of the crowd. The crowd consists of Internet users that have experienced products and services first-hand and have an interest in letting other potential buye...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Telecom Reseller has been named “Media Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 22nd International Cloud Expo, which will take place on June 5-7, 2018, at the Javits Center in New York, NY. Telecom Reseller reports on Unified Communications, UCaaS, BPaaS for enterprise and SMBs. They report extensively on both customer premises based solutions such as IP-PBX as well as cloud based and hosted platforms.