Virtualization with Limited Hardware Support
In recent years, as mobile devices started to become an essential part of everyday computing, virtualization on mobile devices has begun to emerge as a solution for supporting multiple profiles on the same device. However, virtualization on mobile and embedded systems, and to a greater extent, on systems with limited hardware support for virtualization, often face different hardware environment than x86 platforms.
First of all, these platforms were usually equipped with CPUs that did not have hardware virtualization support. We propose a transparent and portable CPU virtualization solution for all types of CPUs that have hardware breakpoint functionality. We use a combination of the hardware breakpoint support and guest kernel control flow graph analysis to trap and emulate sensitive instructions.
Second, the traditional way of implementing record and replay which is an important feature of virtualization, cannot be implemented the same way on CPUs without hardware branch counters. We propose a record and replay implementation without using hardware branch counters on paravirtualized guests. We inspect guest virtual machine internal states to carefully rearrange recorded instructions during replay to achieve the same end result without having to literally repeat the same stream of instructions.
Third, these platforms are often equipped with storage systems with distinct I/O characteristics. SD card, for example, is a prevalent storage media on smartphones. We discuss the mismatch of I/O characteristics between SD card write speed characteristics and guest virtual machine workload characteristics using VMware Mobile Virtualization Platform as an example. We then propose a solution to bridge the gap and achieve efficient guest I/O when storing guest virtual disk images on SD cards.
This dissertation shows that it is possible to efficiently virtualize and provide advanced virtualization functionality to a range of systems without relying on x86 and PC specific virtualization technologies.
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