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2021-06-20 - 02:49

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The Portable Driver Architecture

Dominic Eschweiler, Frankfurt Institute for Advanced Studies   
Volker Lindenstruth, Frankfurt Institute for Advanced Studies

Microkernel operating systems run most subsystems as a user-space application. The related term microdriver refers to a driver which also runs entirely inside the user space. Microdrivers can already drive low speed (USB) and high latency (file systems) applications. Besides a range of advantages, such as fault tolerance and programmability, microdrivers are commonly considered to be slow.

This paper describes a method to construct microdrivers which can drive high-speed and low-latency PCI-devices in high performance computing environments. We show how most parts of such a driver can work in the user space by using standard POSIX interfaces, leaving a small adapter in the kernel space of Linux. Additionally, we evaluate our concept by using real world hardware, which will work at a CERN experiment (ALICE) in a high throughput real time application.