Coordinated memory management in virtualized environments

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Mohapatra, Dushmanta
Ramachandran, Umakishore
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Two recent advances are the primary motivating factors for the research in my dissertation. First, virtualization is no longer confined to the powerful server class machines. It has already been introduced into smart-phones and will be a part of other high-end embedded systems like automobiles in the near future. Second, more and more resource intensive and latency sensitive applications are being used in devices which are rather resource constrained and introducing virtualization into the software stack just exacerbates the resource allocation issue. The focus of my research is on memory management in virtualized environments. Existing memory-management mechanisms were designed for server class machines and their implementations are geared towards the applications running primarily on data centers and cloud setups. In these setups, appropriate load balancing and achieving fair division of resources are the goals and over-provisioning may be the norm. Latency involved in resource management mechanisms may not be a big concern. But in case of smart phones and other hand held devices, applications like media streaming, social-networking are prevalent, which are both resource intensive and latency sensitive. Moreover, the bursty nature of their memory requirement results in spikes in memory needs of the virtual machines. As over provisioning is not an option in these domains, fast and effective (memory) resource management mechanisms are necessary. The overall thesis of my dissertation is: with appropriate design and implementation, it is possible to achieve inter-VM memory management with a latency comparable to the latency involved in intra-VM memory management mechanisms like ‘malloc’. Towards realizing and validating this goal, I have made the following research contributions through my dissertation: (1) I analyzed the memory requirement pattern of prevalent applications, which exhibit bursty behavior and showcased the need for fast memory management mechanisms. (2) I designed and implemented a Coordinated Memory Management mechanism in Xen based virtualized setup, based on the split driver principle (3) I analyzed this mechanism and did a comparative evaluation with parallel memory management mechanisms. (4)I analyzed the extent of interference from the schedulers in the operation of the mechanism and implemented constructs that help in reducing the interference and latency. (5) Based on my analysis, I revised the implementation of the mechanism to one in which Xen hypervisor plays a more significant and active role in the coordination of the mechanism and I did a detailed analysis to showcase the latency improvements due to this design change. (6) In order to validate my hypothesis, I did a comparative analysis of inter-vm and intra-vm memory management mechanisms as final part of my dissertation.
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