Towards a Practical Ecosystem of Specialized OS Kernels

ROSS '19


Specialized operating systems have enjoyed a recent revival driven both by a pressing need to rethink the system software stack in several domains and by the convenience and flexibility that on-demand infrastructure and virtual execution environments offer. Several barriers exist which curtail the widespread adoption of such highly specialized systems, but perhaps the most consequential of them is that these systems are simply difficult to use. In this paper we discuss the challenges faced by specialized OSes, both for HPC and more broadly, and argue that what is needed to make them practically useful is a reasonable development and deployment model that will form the foundation for a kernel ecosystem that allows intrepid developers to discover, experiment with, contribute to, and write programs for available kernel frameworks while safely ignoring complexities such as provisioning, deployment, cross-compilation, and interface compatibility. We argue that such an ecosystem would allow more developers of highly tuned applications to reap the performance benefits of specialized kernels.

Kyle C. Hale
Kyle C. Hale
Assistant Professor of Computer Science

Hale’s research lies at the intersection of operating systems, HPC, parallel computing, computer architecture.