Virtualizing Embedded Systems – Why Bother?

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Heiser, Gernot

Heiser, Gernot


Conference Material

48th Design Automation Confernece

Dan Diego, CA, USA


Platform virtualization, which supports the co-existence of multiple operating-systems environments on a single physical platform, is now commonplace in server computing, as it can provide similar isolation as separate physical servers, but with improved resource utilisation. In the embedded space, virtualization is a new development, which is likely to become more widespread in the next few years. Unlike the server word, where virtualized systems typically run multiple copies of the same (or similar) operating systems, most uses of virtualization in the embedded space are heterogenous, combining different classes of operating systems: an RTOS for traditional embedded real-time programming, and a fully-featured (“rich?) operating system to support complex applications such as user interfaces. We provide a number of examples of present or likely use cases of virtualization in embedded systems, and explain the motivation and benefits, as well as some of the differences to server-style virtualization.

virtualization, embedded systems, real-time systems, consumer electronics, automotive, medical, mobile



Heiser, Gernot. Virtualizing Embedded Systems – Why Bother?. In: 48th Design Automation Confernece; Dan Diego, CA, USA. 2011-06-06. 901-905.

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