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Small footprint open source hypervisor makes highly efficient use of hardware virtualization technology in Imagination's MIPS CPUs

 

Imagination Technologies and Kernkonzept announce that the latest release of the open source L4Re hypervisor now supports Imagination's OmniShield ready MIPS CPUs. The small footprint L4Re hypervisor, maintained by Kernkonzept, can take advantage of the hardware virtualization technology in MIPS CPUs for more efficient context switching and better use of CPU cycles, leading to improved application headroom.

Hardware virtualization is quickly gaining attention beyond its traditional home in the data-center for the benefits it provides across numerous application areas from IoT to consumer to automotive to industrial and beyond. With this technology, connected devices can be designed with numerous distinct domains in which multiple operating systems and applications can run independently at the same time on a single platform.

Built in to the latest MIPS CPUs and other processor families, Imagination's OmniShield technology leverages hardware virtualization to enable the creation of multiple domains on a single SoC. The L4Re operating system is an ideal match: it works with systems that need to consolidate multiple applications with differing security, safety, or real-time requirements. With OmniShield-enabled MIPS CPUs, the L4Re hypervisor makes it possible for multiple isolated tenants or guests to run on the same host, authorizing access to on-chip resources, prioritizing use of shared resources, allocating and managing service interrupts from external sources and peripherals, and more.

Says Jim Nicholas, EVP MIPS Processor IP, Imagination: "As Imagination continues to expand its MIPS ecosystem and OmniShield security offerings, we are delighted to work with Kernkonzept to bring the proven, highly efficient L4Re hypervisor to MIPS. Open source technologies like L4Re, where entire communities are responsible for developing and maintaining the code, can lead to inherently more reliable systems. We're seeing a great deal of interest in L4Re for MIPS."

Says Michael Hohmuth, CEO, Kernkonzept: "Our engagement with Imagination is extremely collaborative, and has already led to great value for both companies. The collaboration is enabling us to take the L4Re operating system into new areas. This technology is already quite strong in areas including government and military. Now it's making its way into embedded markets such as Wi-Fi routers, cable set-top boxes, home gateways, and automotive where MIPS CPUs have a strong presence."

New demonstration vehicle highlights the benefits of hardware virtualization
The open source prpl Foundation, with its members Imagination and Kernkonzept, worked to create a demonstration vehicle that enables companies to see and try out the capabilities of hardware virtualization for themselves. It illustrates the power of a separation-based architecture in providing reliability and ease-of development for next-generation connected devices.

The demonstration builds on prpl's proof-of-concept demonstration earlier this year of its prplSecurity framework-a comprehensive collection of open source APIs providing hardware-level security controls. That was one of the first public demonstrations of hardware enforced multi-tenant OpenWrt, the Linux distribution at the heart of most of the world's home gateways.

The new demonstration features several domains including two instances of OpenWrt - one that isolates the Wi-Fi radio, and another that enables access to networking devices. With evolving Wi-Fi channel and frequency regulations, it's important to ensure the radio is completely isolated, while letting users update their OS and install their own applications on the system. Additional domains can be used for provisioning of third party services such as those from operators and service providers.

Availability
The L4Re hypervisor for MIPS is available now at www.kernkonzept.com/download.html. Kernkonzept also provides a supported version of the L4Re hypervisor. Contact info@kernkonzept.com for more information.

Published Thursday, June 09, 2016 1:01 PM by David Marshall
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