This proposal aims to investigate the impact of the new I/O technologies on the operating system architecture of the network servers. The key ingredient of the proposed approach is the memory-to-memory intra-server interconnect which allows non-intrusive communication between hosts and intelligent devices. Memory-to-memory communication eliminates or significantly reduces the overhead typically associated with conventional communication protocols. This benefit has been extensively studied to improve the performance of distributed applications but has not been yet explored in support of the operating system performance.
The research will focus on how to split the operating system functionality across a cluster of computing nodes and intelligent devices. Two novel operating mechanisms based on memory-to-memory communication will be explored: (i) direct application-to-device communication to offload the TCP/IP protocol processing to TCP servers executed on intelligent network interfaces or dedicated nodes, and (ii) direct communication between memory-mapped file servers and TCP servers. The research will also investigate how to use memory-to-memory communication to support cooperative file and network servers for availability and load-balancing.
This research has been considerably motivated by the increasing interest in VIA, InfiniBand, and programmable device controllers. Its ultimate goal is to contribute to the understanding of how systems software should be designed to exploit and combine these new technologies.