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FFMK: An HPC OS Based on the L4Re Microkernel

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Operating Systems for Supercomputers and High Performance Computing

Part of the book series: High-Performance Computing Series ((HPC,volume 1))


The German research project FFMK  aims to build a new HPC operating system platform that addresses hardware and software challenges posed by future exascale systems. These challenges include massively increased parallelism (e.g., nodes and cores), overcoming performance variability, and most likely higher failure rates due to significantly increased component counts. We also expect more complex applications and the need to manage system resources in a more dynamic way than on contemporary HPC platforms, which assign resources to applications statically. The project combines and adapts existing system-software building blocks that have already matured and proven themselves in other areas. At the lowest level, the architecture is based on a microkernel to provide an extremely lightweight and fast execution environment that leaves as many resources as possible to applications. An instance of the microkernel controls each compute node, but it is complemented by a virtualized Linux kernel that provides device drivers, compatibility with existing HPC infrastructure, and rich support for programming models and HPC runtimes such as MPI . Above the level of individual nodes, the system architecture includes distributed performance and health monitoring services as well as fault-tolerant information dissemination algorithms that enable failure handling and dynamic load management. In this chapter, we will give an overview of the overall architecture of the FFMK  operating system platform. However, the focus will be on the microkernel and how it integrates with Linux to form a multi-kernel operating system architecture.

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We would like to thank the German priority program 1648 “Software for Exascale Computing” for supporting the project FFMK  (FFMK 2019), the ESF-funded project microHPC (microHPC 2019), and the cluster of excellence “Center for Advancing Electronics Dresden” (cfaed). We also acknowledge the Julich Supercomputing Centre, the Gauss Centre for Supercomputing, and the John von Neumann Institute for Computing for providing compute time on the JUQUEEN and JURECA supercomputers. We would also like to deeply thank TU Dresden’s ZIH for allowing us bare metal access to nodes of their Taurus system, as well as all our fellow researchers in the FFMK  project for their advise, contributions, and friendly collaboration.

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Correspondence to Carsten Weinhold .

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Weinhold, C., Lackorzynski, A., Härtig, H. (2019). FFMK: An HPC OS Based on the L4Re Microkernel. In: Gerofi, B., Ishikawa, Y., Riesen, R., Wisniewski, R.W. (eds) Operating Systems for Supercomputers and High Performance Computing. High-Performance Computing Series, vol 1. Springer, Singapore.

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