Faculty Candidate Seminar

Unleashing Hardware Potential through Better OS Abstractions

Adam BelayPhD CandidateStanford

Datacenter workloads have demanding performance requirements, including the

simultaneous need for high throughput, low tail latency, and high server

utilization. While modern hardware is compatible with these goals, modern

operating systems remain a bottleneck. Better OS abstractions could

significantly improve performance, yet deploying these abstractions has become

intractable given the size and complexity of today's systems.

I will first discuss Dune, a kernel extension that allows OS developers to

sidestep software and hardware complexity by running an OS within an ordinary

Linux process. With Dune, developers can both access the capabilities of raw

hardware and fall back on the functionality of a full Linux environment where

convenient. I will then discuss IX and Shinjuku, two generations of new

datacenter-focused operating systems that were enabled by Dune. IX provides a

novel system call interface that greatly improves network throughput without

sacrificing latency. For example, IX improves Memcached's TCP throughput by 5x

over Linux. Shinjuku, an ongoing research effort, aims to significantly increase

CPU utilization through a centralized approach to intra-server load balancing.
Adam Belay is a Ph.D. candidate in Computer Science at Stanford University,

where he is a member of the Secure Computer Systems Group and the Multiscale

Architecture and Systems Team. Previously, he worked on storage virtualization

at VMware Inc. and contributed substantial power management code to the Linux

Kernel project. Adam's research area is operating systems and networking. Much

of his work has focused on restructuring computer systems so that developers can

more easily reach the full performance potential of hardware. Adam has received

a Stanford Graduate Fellowship, a VMware Graduate Fellowship, and an OSDI Jay

Lepreau Best Paper Award.

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