COMPASS TALK by Irene Zhang (Microsoft Research, Redmond): Demikernel: An Operating System Architecture for Hardware-Accelerated Datacenter Servers

31.01.2019 10:00

Thursday, 31. January 2019, 10:00-11:00 in
CAB E 72

Speaker: Irene Zhang (Microsoft Research, Redmond)

Title: Demikernel: An Operating System Architecture for Hardware-Accelerated Datacenter Servers





As I/O devices become faster, the CPU is increasingly a bottleneck in today's datacenter servers. As a result, servers now integrate a variety of I/O accelerators -- I/O devices with an attached computational unit -- to offload functionality from the CPU (e.g., RDMA, DPDK and SPDK devices). More specifically, many of these devices improve performance by eliminating the operating system kernel from the I/O processing path. This change has left a gap in the datacenter systems stack: there is no longer a general-purpose, device-independent I/O abstraction. Instead, programmers build their applications against low-level device-specific interfaces, which are difficult to use and not portable.

This talk presents the Demikernel, a new operating system architecture for datacenter servers. Demikernel operating systems are split into a control-path kernel and a data-path library OS, which provides a new device-agnostic I/O abstraction for datacenter servers. Each Demikernel library OS implements this I/O abstraction in a device-specific way by offloading some functions to the device and implementing the remainder on the CPU. In this way, datacenter applications can use a high-level interface for I/O that works across a range of I/O accelerators without application modification.


Irene Zhang is a researcher at Microsoft Research Redmond. Her current research focuses on new operating systems for datacenter servers and mobile devices. She recently received her PhD from the University of Washington, advised by Hank Levy and Arvind Krishnamurthy. Her thesis focused on distributed programming systems for wide-area applications. She is this year's recipient of the Dennis M. Ritchie SIGOPS dissertation award.