The Case for a Factored Operating System (fos)

Unknown author (2008-10-08)

The next decade will afford us computer chips with 1,000 - 10,000 cores on a single piece of silicon. Contemporary operating systems have been designed to operate on a single core or small number of cores and hence are not well suited to manage and provide operating system services at such large scale. Managing 10,000 cores is so fundamentally different from managing two cores that the traditional evolutionary approach of operating system optimization will cease to work. The fundamental design of operating systems and operating system data structures must be rethought. This work begins by documenting the scalability problems of contemporary operating systems. These studies are used to motivate the design of a factored operating system (fos). fos is a new operating system targeting 1000+ core multicore systems where space sharing replaces traditional time sharing to increase scalability. fos is built as a collection of Internet inspired services. Each operating system service is factored into a fleet of communicating servers which in aggregate implement a system service. These servers are designed much in the way that distributed Internet services are designed, but instead of providing high level Internet services, these servers provide traditional kernel services and manage traditional kernel data structures in a factored, spatially distributed manner. The servers are bound to distinct processing cores and by doing so do not fight with end user applications for implicit resources such as TLBs and caches. Also, spatial distribution of these OS services facilitates locality as many operations only need to communicate with the nearest server for a given service.