Friday, March 06, 2015
12:00 PM
Computer Studies Building, Room 209
Simon Peter
University of Washington
Building an Operating System for the Data Center
Data centers run a range of important applications with ever increasing performance demands, from cloud and server computing to Big Data and eScience. However, the scaling of CPU frequency has stalled in recent years, leading to hardware architectures that no longer transparently scale software performance. Two trends stand out: 1) Instead of frequency, hardware architectures increase the number of CPU cores, leaving complex memory system performance and CPU scheduling tradeoffs exposed to software. 2) Network and storage I/O performance continues to improve, but without matching improvements in CPU frequency. Software thus faces ever increasing I/O efficiency demands.

In my research, I address how operating systems (OSes) can handle these growing complexity and performance pressures to avoid becoming the limiting factor to performance. I first explain how current OS architecture is already inadequate to address these trends, limiting application performance. I then present how the OS can be redesigned to eliminate the performance limitations without compromising on existing features or application compatibility. I finish with an outlook on how these hardware trends affect software in the future and present ideas to address them.

Simon is a postdoctoral research associate at the University of Washington, where he leads research in operating systems and networks. His postdoctoral advisors are Tom Anderson and Arvind Krishnamurthy. Simon received a Ph.D. in Computer Science from ETH Zurich in 2012 and an MSc in Computer Science from the Carl-von-Ossietzky University Oldenburg, Germany in 2006. Simon's research focus is on data center performance issues. For his work on the Arrakis high I/O performance operating system, he received the Jay Lepreau best paper award (2014) and the Madrona prize (2014). Previously, Simon has worked on the Barrelfish multicore operating system and conducted further award-winning systems research at various locations, including MSR Silicon Valley, MSR Cambridge, Intel Labs Germany, UC Riverside, and the NSF.