Quest-V: A Virtualized Multikernel for High-Confidence Systems

Ye Li, Matthew Danish, Richard West

This paper outlines the design of `Quest-V', which is implemented as a collection of separate kernels operating together as a distributed system on a chip. Quest-V uses virtualization techniques to isolate kernels and prevent local faults from affecting remote kernels. This leads to a high-confidence multikernel approach, where failures of system subcomponents do not render the entire system inoperable. A virtual machine monitor for each kernel keeps track of shadow page table mappings that control immutable memory access capabilities. This ensures a level of security and fault tolerance in situations where a service in one kernel fails, or is corrupted by a malicious attack. Communication is supported between kernels using shared memory regions for message passing. Similarly, device driver data structures are shareable between kernels to avoid the need for complex I/O virtualization, or communication with a dedicated kernel responsible for I/O. In Quest-V, device interrupts are delivered directly to a kernel, rather than via a monitor that determines the destination. Apart from bootstrapping each kernel, handling faults and managing shadow page tables, the monitors are not needed. This differs from conventional virtual machine systems in which a central monitor, or hypervisor, is responsible for scheduling and management of host resources amongst a set of guest kernels. In this paper we show how Quest-V can implement novel fault isolation and recovery techniques that are not possible with conventional systems. We also show how the costs of using virtualization for isolation of system services does not add undue overheads to the overall system performance.

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