In this paper, we present a lightweight, micro-kernel-based virtual machine monitor (VMM) for the Blue Gene/P supercomputer. Our VMM comprises a small µ-kernel with virtualization capabilities and, atop, a user-level VMM component that manages virtual Blue Gene/P cores, memory, and interconnects; we also support running native applications directly atop the µ-kernel. Our design goal is to enable compatibility to standard operating systems such as Linux on BG/P via virtualization, but to also keep the amount of kernel functionality small enough to facilitate shortening the path to applications and lowering operating system noise.
Our prototype implementation successfully virtualizes a Blue Gene/P version of Linux with support for Ethernet-based communication mapped onto Blue Gene/P's collective and torus network devices. Our first experiences and experiments show that our VMM still shows a substantial performance hit, and that support for native application environments is a key requirement towards fully exploiting the capabilities of a supercomputer. Altogether, our approach poses an interesting operating system alternative for s ... mehrupercomputers, providing the convenience of a fully featured commodity software stack, while also promising to deliver the scalability and low latency of an HPC operating system.