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PikeOS: HwVirt Support on x86 Architecture

PikeOS, Linux

PikeOS 5.1.3 now supports Hardware Virtualization (HwVirt) on the x86 architecture! This recurring feature request has been finally brought to SYSGO's safe and secure hypervisor, initially supporting Linux and PikeOS guests in SMP mode.

With HwVirt, significant performance improvements can be achieved in PikeOS systems running virtualized Linux guests on Intel CPUs. This is especially important in today's graphics- or audio-intensive application environments.

HwVirt, according to Wikipedia, is the virtualization of computers as complete hardware platforms, certain logical abstractions of their components, or only the functionality required to run various operating systems. Virtualization hides the physical characteristics of a computing platform from the users, presenting instead an abstract computing platform.

Figure 1: The implementation of hardware virtualization support in PikeOS is divided in two parts: The hypervisor, implemented as a part of the PikeOS kernel, and the manager, which is a regular PikeOS application using the kernel API to create and manage a guest.

PikeOS HwVirt allows the sharing of physical CPUs amongst guests, and offers secure and efficient Input/Output device partitioning thanks to IOMMU (input-output memory management unit) support. VirtIO driver support provides easier interoperability between the guest operating systems and PikeOS' HwVirt layer. Configuration of the system is easy, thanks to SYSGO's time-tested CODEO Eclipse-based integrated development environment.

Future developments of PikeOS HwVirt may include Windows guest support, VirtIO network driver support, and AMD CPUs.

The list of supported BSPs can be found here: