Publications / SAND Report

An extensible operating system design for large-scale parallel machines

Riesen, Rolf; Ferreira, Kurt

Running untrusted user-level code inside an operating system kernel has been studied in the 1990's but has not really caught on. We believe the time has come to resurrect kernel extensions for operating systems that run on highly-parallel clusters and supercomputers. The reason is that the usage model for these machines differs significantly from a desktop machine or a server. In addition, vendors are starting to add features, such as floating-point accelerators, multicore processors, and reconfigurable compute elements. An operating system for such machines must be adaptable to the requirements of specific applications and provide abstractions to access next-generation hardware features, without sacrificing performance or scalability.