, Volume 7, Issue 1, pp 34-43
Date: 17 Nov 2012

Design and verification of a lightweight reliable virtual machine monitor for a many-core architecture

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Virtual machine monitors (VMMs) play a central role in cloud computing. Their reliability and availability are critical for cloud computing. Virtualization and device emulation make the VMM code base large and the interface between OS and VMM complex. This results in a code base that is very hard to verify the security of the VMM. For example, a misuse of a VMM hyper-call by a malicious guest OS can corrupt the whole VMM. The complexity of the VMM also makes it hard to formally verify the correctness of the system’s behavior. In this paper a new VMM, operating system virtualization (OSV), is proposed. The multiprocessor boot interface and memory configuration interface are virtualized in OSV at boot time in the Linux kernel. After booting, only inter-processor interrupt operations are intercepted by OSV, which makes the interface between OSV and OS simple. The interface is verified using formal model checking, which ensures a malicious OS cannot attack OSV through the interface. Currently, OSV is implemented based on the AMD Opteron multi-core server architecture. Evaluation results show that Linux running on OSV has a similar performance to native Linux. OSV has a performance improvement of 4%–13% over Xen.