Infoscience

Journal article

The IX Operating System: Combining Low Latency, High Throughput, and Efficiency in a Protected Dataplan

The conventional wisdom is that aggressive networking requirements, such as high packet rates for small messages and μs-scale tail latency, are best addressed outside the kernel, in a user-level networking stack. We present ix, a dataplane operating system that provides high I/O performance and high resource efficiency while maintaining the protection and isolation benefits of existing kernels. ix uses hardware virtualization to separate management and scheduling functions of the kernel (control plane) from network processing (dataplane). The dataplane architecture builds upon a native, zero-copy API and optimizes for both bandwidth and latency by dedicating hardware threads and networking queues to dataplane instances, processing bounded batches of packets to completion, and eliminating coherence traffic and multicore synchronization. The control plane dynamically adjusts core allocations and voltage/frequency settings to meet service-level objectives. We demonstrate that ix outperforms Linux and a user-space network stack significantly in both throughput and end-to-end latency. Moreover, ix improves the throughput of a widely deployed, key-value store by up to 6.4× and reduces tail latency by more than 2× . With three varying load patterns, the control plane saves 46%--54% of processor energy, and it allows background jobs to run at 35%--47% of their standalone throughput.

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