Welcome!

Containers Expo Blog Authors: Jamie Madison, Dalibor Siroky, PagerDuty Blog, Stackify Blog, Matt Lonstine

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:

Readers of Virtualization Journal know that virtualization provides enormous benefits to makers and users of computing platforms ranging from desktops, to servers, and even supercomputers. The reasons for this are now obvious; cost savings through server consolidation, reduced administrative costs, and greater flexibility. Less obvious may be the degree to which virtualization can benefit deeply embedded applications such as cell phones, networking equipment, and point of sales terminals.   
 
While there are similarities in some of the value propositions involved, there are also substantial differences due to the more challenging timing and resource budgets of embedded devices. Real-time processing in embedded applications puts a premium on low latency, highly deterministic approaches to hypervisor design, while the available volatile and non-volatile memory is smaller, often by orders of magnitude, than that available in even a low end desktop machine.
 
The virtualization technique most often used in and enterprise computing or desktop application is known as “full” or “native” virtualization. In this approach, each instruction executed by a guest OS or application is trapped and each privileged instruction, instead of being executed by the underlying hardware platform, is processed by software that fully emulates the underlying hardware. This allows for the greatest flexibility in hosted software as essentially any and all software should, in theory at least, run unmodified. 
 
Unfortunately, this approach takes a relatively large amount of memory and processing overhead. In the enterprise space some of the overhead has been reduced by the inclusion by Intel and AMD of hardware virtualization support but the system overhead is still significant.  In the embedded space that hardware support is quite a bit less mature and the available processing overhead is typically not there.  While it is typical in a computing context to have ‘room for growth’ by virtue of more memory or speed than is strictly required at the time of purchase, in an embedded context this is more often than not labeled as ‘waste’ and not tolerated.
 
In order to get around this issue, most commercial virtualization vendors have adopted a technique known as “paravirtualization.”  In paravirtualization, the operating system and device drivers must be modified to take advantage of the characteristics of the hypervisor or Virtual Machine Monitor (VMM).  In this modification, calls to hardware are replaced by API calls to the hypervisor.  Since the analysis of which instructions must be managed, and just how those instructions should be managed, has all been done during the system’s design and development phase, no run time instruction trapping or analysis is required.  As a result, the performance overhead of operating virtual machines in a paravirtualized system is quite a bit lower, often by orders of magnitude than what was possible in full or native virtualization.  It also means that, as the hypervisor essentially owns hardware access, security between different virtualized domains is much greater, and systems can be built in a more robust fashion.
 
Why Should I Virtualize My Cell Phone?
I often wonder what the conversations were like years ago when microcontrollers were a new concept and customers would ask just what could be done with such a thing.  Most of the now common applications such as engine controls, GPS units, and cell phones would have seemed like so much science fiction.  But, once the basic building blocks were well understood by designers, applications began to come out of the woodwork and the microcontroller became just another generally accepted tool leading by stages to just those applications.
 
With virtualization we’re essentially at that same very early stage where designers may have heard of the technology, but they haven’t fully internalized that they have another tool in their toolkit.  The question now is more along the lines of  “what can be done with LOTs of virtual processors?”
 
When looking at the architecture of a cell phone, as often as not there’s a baseband processor that runs the actual communications, and a separate applications processor that does graphical display, multi-media, and other processing that’s not core to the phone’s basic functionality. Using virtualization, it’s very straightforward to integrate both apps processing and the radio stack on the same physical device saving BOM cost and also considerable development time.
 
Another area of study is how to support handset functionality in a robust fashion, and still have a degree of openness. The Open Handset Alliance’s “Android” platform attempts to answer the “openness” aspect, but actually does little to nothing to preserve the integrity of the handset, a critical issue with carriers.  Using virtualization it is possible to create highly secure and independent profiles for the basic phone function, and for the user, creating flexibility and preserving the integrity of the handset against malware or just simple user error. The Open and Secure Terminal Initiative or OSTI is a good example of this approach (http://www.nttdocomo.co.jp/english/corporate/technology/osti/).

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
"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.
It is of utmost importance for the future success of WebRTC to ensure that interoperability is operational between web browsers and any WebRTC-compliant client. To be guaranteed as operational and effective, interoperability must be tested extensively by establishing WebRTC data and media connections between different web browsers running on different devices and operating systems. In his session at WebRTC Summit at @ThingsExpo, Dr. Alex Gouaillard, CEO and Founder of CoSMo Software, presented ...