Genode affinity, multi-core separation and service encapsulation (core inferences)

Norman Feske norman.feske at ...1...
Thu Mar 8 10:14:24 CET 2018

Hi Daniel,

> Our results so far demonstrate that, in any case, a component running on
> core 1 utilizes at least the rom and log services provided by init which
> is running on core 0. Also the usage of a second level init component
> (which is suggested by the genode book) didn't change the resulting
> behavior.

this observation is correct. All session interfaces provided by core are
served by a single thread running on the boot CPU. Also the init
instance spawned by core is started on the same CPU. There are two
reasons for this way of operation.

First, however complex your Genode system is, the ultimate allocation
and arbitration of physical resources must happen - and be synchronized
across CPUs - at a central point. Whether the synchronization happens
via multiple threads (running on a different CPU each) contending for a
lock or by serializing RPC calls to a single thread, cross-CPU
synchronization is inevitable. We picked the latter path because it is

Second, core has no prior knowledge about the demands of the user land
and does not even try to be clever (e.g., it does not balance threads
among CPUs automatically). The first point where such policy enters the
picture is the configuration of init. Hence, a secondary init can be
moved to a different CPU by the means of the configuration of the
primary init, but the primary init instance is bound to the boot CPU.

> Of course, genode is not meant to be a separation kernel by design, but
> would it still be possible to map/assign resources/partitions to
> corresponding cores? Or do all components running on different cores
> still have to contact the genode CORE component which is running on core 0?

Should multi-core scalability become a concern (our today's workloads
clearly don't suffer from the current design), I see three principle
ways for improvement.

1. Combining the notions of a low-count SMP Genode system and a
   "distributed" Genode system (in multikernel fashion). In this
   picture, there would be multiple loosely-coupled Genode systems
   running on the same machine, using only a few coarsely shared
   resources. Each of these Genode systems would control multiple
   CPUs that are close to each other according to the physical
   CPU topology. So the current way of inter-CPU synchronization
   can work well within each of these systems.

2. Core could create an entrypoint for each physical CPU. For certain
   core services (PD, IRQ), it could take the client-provided session-
   affinity information into account to create the respective session
   object on the same CPU as the client. So RPC calls could be served
   independently. As noted above, the entrypoints must still be
   synchronized with each other. For IRQ sessions, this could generally
   be beneficial since each IRQ session is fairly free-standing.
   On the other hand, kernels like base-hw and NOVA don't actually
   need any interplay between the user-level device driver and core
   for servicing interrupts.

3. Should we observe a high contention on a specific core service,
   let's say the RAM service, one could implement "cached" versions
   of this service as a separate component. This could be a RAM
   server that initially allocates dataspaces from core and hands them
   out to its clients. The physical RAM could be partitioned among
   several of such cache services - each running on a different CPU.
   This could work also well for the ROM service.

That said, there are currently no concrete plans to pursue any of those


Dr.-Ing. Norman Feske
Genode Labs ·

Genode Labs GmbH · Amtsgericht Dresden · HRB 28424 · Sitz Dresden
Geschäftsführer: Dr.-Ing. Norman Feske, Christian Helmuth

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