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The increasing importance of virtualization techniques

The increasing importance of virtualization techniques

The hardware technology of embedded real-time systems has evolved towards very powerful, reliable and cheap multicore platforms. This trend has increased the interest for software architectures in which multiple applications share a multicore platform as an optimal solution for embedded real-time systems.

The interest in multicore platforms has been fueled by the increasing need to reduce size, weight, and energy consumption and, of course, costs, of applications in different domains, notably aerospace, transport and automotive, or IoT. However, sharing a common hardware platform requires the implementation of mechanisms to guarantee that applications do not interfere with one another. Virtualization solutions play a relevant role to achieve non-interference.

Virtualization mechanisms recreate the hardware functionality for each application, separating components with different dependability levels running simultaneously on a single execution platform.

XtratuM, the fentISS core product, is a bare-metal space-qualified hypervisor aimed at providing virtualization for safe and efficient embedded real-time systems. This solution guarantees that applications running over the same computer do not interfere in timememory and other resources.

Partitions in XtratuM Hypervisor
Partitions in XtratuM Hypervisor

The advantage of hypervisors in new markets is gaining recognition by their selection in projects of distinguished actors such as OneWeb. This telecommunication constellation, which has already deployed 254 satellites in-orbit and plans to launch up to 648 satellites over the next two years, uses the XtratuM hypervisor at the core of its satellites. The XtratuM virtualization solution enables every satellite on-board computer to run different applications with diverse levels of criticality. The OneWeb constellation is a good example of the potential of “New Space” and XtratuM is a convenient building block for the avionics of constellation satellites which are heavily constrained in cost, size, weight and power consumption.

This global satellite Internet broadband services provider is not the only mission in which XtratuM hypervisor is responsible for the virtualization activity; the Spanish solution is also currently available in ANGELS and EyeSat, both launched in 2019. In total, fentISS’ hypervisor is currently available in 256 satellites and the expectations of this solution are quite positive with several missions already scheduled for the next few years.

Virtualization can be applied in multiple domains and hypervisors represent a proven solution to build secure, reliable and efficient on-board partitioned systems.


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