Research Projects

Kernkonzept participates in various national and international research projects to improve and extend functionalities and uses for our L4Re Operating System and Hypervisor Framework. We are striving to keep our software state-of-the-art and fit for all application ranges.

Overview

Versecloud

The project

Virtualization of servers – Cloud Computing – is prevalent in today’s IT landscape. Adopters hope to gain scalability and cut costs through consolidation and central management of the organization’s servers. Until now, German government bodies handling classified information such as VS-NfD have been locked out from taking advantage of cloud computing, because the complexity of the underlying operating systems makes the notoriously hard to certify.
The aim of the Versecloud project is to develop a performant, flexible and trustworthy virtualization solution based on a microkernel operating system. Using formal methods, an abstract system can be proven to provide the required security properties of the microkernel and device drivers. Finally, snapshots of the system provide backups and make enable forensic investigations.

Kernkonzept topics

Kernkonzept’s mission in the Versecloud project is to extend L4Re’s hypervisor for cloud use cases and to formally verify the security properties of the underlying L4Re operating system.

The L4Re hypervisor is extended with improved SMP support and device pass-through, will gain an interface that enables virtual machine guests to provide services such as file system access to the host. Support for new guest operating systems such as OpenBSD and Microsoft Windows, and dynamic instantiation of VMs is explored. For formal verification of security properties, an abstract model of L4Re is refined to a composition of L4Re components and memory pages with detailed access rights are added to the model. Additionally, we will research approaches to model based testing of parallel computation and verify a selection of parallel algorithms in L4Re.

Secure Cloud Wires

Project information

Versecloud

Project state:
Ongoing

Overview

secureAR

The project

The aim of the secureAR collaborative research project is to investigate and develop innovative services in the industrial production environment.
In the future factories will manufacture individual, one-off products and achieve higher levels of labour productivity.
This will also intensify the demands made on workers.
Modern augmented reality (AR) assistance systems are to be integrated as effectively as possible into these production and service processes in order to support employees and allow the localised, situational provision and visualisation of data.
A cloud-based service platform with open interfaces for various industrial sectors is to be made available that will collect data along the whole value chain from planning to production processes and system maintenance.
This research and development project is funded by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (Bundesministerium für Bildung und Forschung, BMBF) in context of the research programme “Internet-based Services for Complex Products, Production Processes and Production Systems (Smart Services)”.

Kernkonzept topics

One of the main components of secureAR are novel security glasses with an integrated low power OLED display. The display as well as sensors and cameras connect to a local mobile platform which is linked to the cloud via wireless network technology such as Wifi, 4G or 5G. To thwart attacks, the mobile platform uses a secure operating system based on the microkernel-based L4Re Operating System Framework. It is comprised of several compartments, where main applications are run in a virtual machine (VM) using Android while communication and machine learning and neural network algorithms are run in other Linux-based VMs, allowing for complete encapsulation and safeguarding of the system, the data is processes and its communication over the Internet. Beyond that, exceptionally critical processes or security certificates can be moved into L4Re micro applications.

Kernkonzept Research SecureAR

Project information

secureAR

Project state:
Ongoing

Overview

EuroHPC/EPI 2

The project

The present EuroHPC/EPI 2 (SGA2) builds on top of EPI 1 (SGA1), enabling European digital sovereignty with an increased focus on processor technologies, based on the ARM ISA and HPC accelerator technologies running on open source hardware (RISC-V ISA). EPI 2 is about validating the first-generation processor and then moving forward with the development of the 2nd generation of low-power processors and accelerators.

Kernkonzept topics

Supporting the 2nd generation processor, Kernkonzept will extend the L4Re Operating System Framework to the next processor, developed by the EPI (European Processor Initiative) consortium, and ensure efficient execution of work loads. The Common Criteria EAL security certification of the L4Re Framework will likewise be continued and concluded.

Kernkonzept Research EuroHPC EPI 2

Project information

EuroHPC/EPI 2

Project state:
Ongoing

Overview

EMDRIVE

The project

Autonomous vehicles appear to be an established goal on the road to new mobility systems.
While field tests demonstrate the increasing perfection and technical feasibility, demands on energy use and real time computational power pose an obstacle for the application as a cost-efficient mass product.

One way out lies in the dynamic load distribution in the automotive compute system to provide scalable data processing with minimal energy use and at a justifiable cost.

Such a system needs to be functionally secure, hardened against manipulation and reliable throughout the whole life cycle, i.e. ASIL-D (Automotive Safety Integrity Level) qualified.

Kernkonzept topics

Dynamic load distribution constitutes a challenge for safety, whereas current production systems distribute tasks to fixed compute notes.

In addition to addressing the multi-dimensional challenges of dynamic load distribution, EMDRIVE has the unique feature of aiming for real time diagnosis, adaption and supervising.

Kernkonzept participates in the requirement analysis, the specification of the computer architecture (especially the application processor and acceleration units), and as a main activity implements dynamic operation strategies in the L4Re operating system.
Dynamic operation is made available to an orchestration component and supports project partners in the implementation of the real time monitoring infrastructure.

Kernkonzept Research Autonomous Driving

Project information

EMDRIVE

Project state:
Ongoing

Overview

European Processor Initiative (EPI)

The project

The project aims to deliver a high-performance, low-power processor, implementing vector instructions and specific accelerators with high bandwidth memory access. The EPI processor will also meet high security and safety requirements. This will be achieved through intensive use of simulation, development of a complete software stack and tape-out in the most advanced semiconductor process node. The project will provide a competitive chip that can effectively address the requirements of the HPC, AI, automotive and trusted IT infrastructure markets.
Part of the project is to develop demonstration platforms to validate this chip in the HPC context and in the automotive context.

Kernkonzept topics

Kernkonzept provides the hypervisor layer of the Automotive eHPC platform software stack. While porting the L4Re Framework to the Automotive eHPC platform, and thus improving it towards those use-cases, Kernkonzept also supports employing virtualization on those platforms. Besides employing the L4Re operating system, Common Criteria EAL certification for the L4Re Framework is pursued.

L4Re certification ready for automotive industries

Project information

EPI - Phase 1

Project state:
Completed

Overview

Jupiter

The project

Energy grids of the future will be more efficient, dynamic and decentralized. Smart grids will provide the “Internet of Energy” by coordinating a huge variety of electricity producers and consumers. As the central interface between the smart grid and households or factories the Smart Meter Gateway (SMGw) is an important component.
Security requirements necessitate certification by the Federal Office for Information Security (Bundesamt für Sicherheit in der Informationstechnik, BSI), which due to the complexity of traditional platforms has so far proven overly intricate.
This poses problems for field tests, the collection of experiences before mass rollout and the development of new business models.
The project addresses these shortcomings by developing a certifiable secure platform.

Kernkonzept topics

Kernkonzept’s role in the Jupiter project is to advance the development of a certifiable modular operating systems platform.
The strict separation of software components by means of a microkernel-based OS software is the core of the security architecture.
Due to the extent of the task, only intermediate steps towards that goal can be achieved in the scope of the project.
The system shall be designed in a way that will allow to meet the strict requirements of the BSI while enabling the running of third party apps and services without impairing the certification of the platform as a whole.

Kritis Powerplant

Project information

Jupiter

Project state:
Completed

Overview

Fast VPN: Network Infrastructure for Industry 4.0

The project

The main goal of this project was the creation of suitable and intuitive network solutions that meet both high-performance realtime requirements and increased security needs of industry 4.0 and SCADA systems.
These solutions provide an easy way to regulate access to devices, data and functionalities and to secure data streams independently of used applications protocols.
To this end state-of-the-art cryptography was combined with separation based on virtualization and microkernel operating systems.
We ensured real time capabilities of the system by software design decisions and choice of algorithms and hardware.
To increase usability, modern methods of human-machine interaction and interactive information visualization were investigated, evaluated, and implemented.

Kernkonzept topics

Kernkonzept provided the separation layer for the gateway component that ensures the isolation of software components so that malfunction in single components cannot compromise independent components.
This was achieved by utilizing the microkernel architecture of the L4Re Operating System Framework, which provides isolation properties with a minimal Trusted Computing Base (TCB) while allowing realtime properties.

Kernkonzept Research Fast VPN

Project information

Fast VPN

Project state:
Completed

Overview

MicroHPC

The project

Due to the end of Moore’s Law, parallelism is inherent in modern computers.
This trend will only be intensified by the growing need of computing power in emerging use cases such as autonomous systems and Industry 4.0.
The goal of this project was to research heterogeneous systems and to implement a prototype of a system that can serve as the base for a future product.

Kernkonzept topics

Enabling L4Re to provide security, real time computing and conserve energy on upcoming computers that resemble today’s supercomputers will open new scenarios for the L4Re operating system.
The research focus was on heterogeneous and parallel systems to accommodate specialized hardware for use cases such as image recognition, which will find widespread use in everyday systems.
In current systems, such specialized hardware is usually reserved exclusively for one application only.
It is desirable for them to be used transparently by multiple applications in the future without tradeoffs in realtime and security properties that L4Re has provided so far. Additionally the energy efficiency needs to be optimized to allow efficient use of multi-core systems.

Kernkonzept Research MicroHPC

Project information

MicroHPC

Project state:
Completed

Overview

EXPLOIDS

The project

The goal of EXPLOIDS („Explicit Privacy-Preserving Host Intrusion Detection System“) was methodic research on detection and reconnaissance of IT security incidents that is unsusceptible to manipulation.

This was achieved through the introduction of a reliable Host Intrusion Detection Systems (HIDS) which combines the advantages of network-based and host-based detection systems.

Secure data recording is at the root of detecting attacks on IT infrastructure and its subsequent analysis.

Kernkonzept topics

Traditional computer architectures provide only unreliable sensors for the surveillance of a computer system, because so far no discrete memory protection has been developed for host-based systems.

Therefore, the surveilled computer system is moved into a virtual machine provided by a trustworthy microkernel operating system with a minimal Trusted Computing Base (TCB) and is inspected from the host system where the inspection is protected through the virtualization layer.

The instrumented virtual machine monitor (VMM) serves as an interface between the HIDS and the virtual machine. It is therefore crucial to minimize its attach surface.
The L4Re Operating System Framework and its virtual machine monitor provide the most suitable platform because the capability-based design and their small size makes it feasible to evaluate the implementation of extensive access protection for all system resources.