Seminars at the Faculty of Informatics

Hardware complexity as a first-class OS problem

The Faculty of Informatics is pleased to announce a seminar given by Timothy Roscoe

DATE: Thursday, March 27th, 2014
PLACE: USI Lugano Campus, room 402, Main building (Via G. Buffi 13)
TIME: 13.30

Modern operating systems face several engineering challenges: hardware is increasingly complex, increasingly diverse, and evolving rapidly. This, combined with parallel workloads having complex performance interactions with hardware make it hard to build a simple OS kernel which delivers good performance for a variety of platforms and workloads.  In this talk, I'll argue for sophisticated automated reasoning capabilities as a first-class OS service. With such a service, one can delegate many OS policy decisions and calculations to a component which is highly flexible, expressive, and dynamic, providing considerable advantages of hard-coding such functionality in C or scripts.
As a first step, we decided to tackle this head-on by building a reasoning engine as a first class service (the "System Knowledge Base") in the Barrelfish OS, borrowing ideas from such fields as knowledge representation, constraint satisfaction, logic programming, and optimization. Doing so was not without problems, but we found it highly convenient in a number of widely different application areas - for example PCI programming, process coordination, spatial scheduling, and message routing. I'll discuss several of these, and how the structure of the OS as a whole changes when a facility like the SKB is available.  Finally, I'll talk about some future directions, in particularly with embedded devices such as SoCs.

Timothy Roscoe is a Full Professor in the Systems Group of the Computer Science Department at ETH Zurich, where his current research interests include network architecture and the Barrelfish multicore research operating system. He received a PhD from the Computer Laboratory of the University of Cambridge, where he was a principal designer and builder of the Nemesis operating system, as well as working on the Wanda microkernel and Pandora multimedia system. After three years working on web-based collaboration systems at a startup company in North Carolina, Mothy joined Sprint's Advanced Technology Lab in Burlingame, California, working on cloud computing and network monitoring.  He then joined Intel Research at Berkeley in April 2002 as a principal architect of PlanetLab, an open, shared platform for developing and deploying planetary-scale services. In September 2006 he spent four months as a visiting researcher in the Embedded and Real-Time Operating Systems group at National ICT Australia in Sydney, before joining ETH Zurich in January 2007. He was recently elected Fellow of the ACM for contributions to operating systems and networking research

HOST: Prof. Robert Soulé