Whitepaper MCU Virtualization L4Re Micro Hypervisor

The L4Re Micro Hypervisor: Employing Virtualization on MPU-based Processors

In this white paper, Dr.-Ing. Adam Lackorzynski and Jan Klötzke from Kernkonzept GmbH are discussing use-cases for the L4Re Micro Hypervisor as a scalable solution that supports both AArch32 and AArch 64, as well as MPU-based systems.

The automotive industry is faced with the challenge that an ever-increasing share of the product value is defined by software. This has led to the growth of electronic control units (ECUs) that are deployed in a vehicle. It also implies that more and more software defined functions are safety critical and must be designed according to functional safety standards such as ISO26262.

Nowadays it is not uncommon that a car sports well over 100 individual ECUs. This number has been steadily increasing for many years. To counter the associated costs, weight, and physical space requirements, the industry is moving towards a more centralized compute approach: Several adjacent ECUs are consolidated into “zonal controllers”, which brings down the average cost per function.

As these previously physically separated applications now share the same computing resources, there is an increased need for virtualization solutions. This is partially driven by the desire to reuse existing ECU software stacks and deploy them almost unchanged in virtual machines on controllers along with other virtual ECUs. In the realm of automotive HPC systems, virtualization is considered best practice and is already used on a broad scale.

Another requirement is the freedom of interference between different safety related functions. Hypervisors are the state-of-the-art solution to partition a shared system through virtualization, so that designers can ensure individual functions are separated in time and space while still meeting real-time and safety requirements.

This also applies to other safety and real-time critical application fields like medical devices and avionics. By using a hypervisor, a system can be partitioned into isolated parts, ensuring safety and non-interference while also enabling convenience functions.

The L4Re Operating System and Hypervisor Framework provides the technology to cover the whole spectrum of ARMv8-R virtualization. By leveraging the same APIs on both ends of the resource spectrum, applications can be deployed with no or only minimal changes on the whole spectrum.

The L4Re architecture provides a safe upgrade path, economizing investments in the software stack. The L4Re Micro Hypervisor provides the foundation to build certifiable, virtualized safety systems on the ARMv8-R technology. The small code base minimizes effort and time for certification and enables using MPUs for safety and security purposes in the first place.

Together with the L4Re Hypervisor for MMU based systems, L4Re provides a consistent framework from small, safety-critical systems up to cloud server virtualization scenarios.

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