Hardware Assisted Resource Sharing Platform for Personal Cloud

Hardware Assisted Resource Sharing Platform for
Personal Cloud
Wei Wang, Ya Zhang, Xuezhao Liu, Meilin Zhang, Xiaoyan Dang, Zhuo Wang
Intel Labs China
Intel Corporation
Beijing, PR China
{vince.wang, ya.zhang, xuezhao.liu, meilin.zhang, xiaoyan.dang, kevin.wang}@intel.com
Abstract—More and more novel usage models require the
capability of resource sharing among different platforms. To
achieve a satisfactory efficiency, we introduce a specific resource
sharing technology under which IO peripherals can be shared
among different platforms. In particular, in a personal working
environment that is built up by a number of devices, IO
peripherals at each device can be applied to support application
running at another device. This IO sharing is our so-called
composable IO because it is equivalent to compose IOs from
different devices for an application. We design composable IO
module and achieve pro-migration PCIe devices access, namely a
migrated application running at the targeted host can still access
the PCIe peripherals at the source host. This is supplementary to
traditional VM migration under which application can only use
resources from the device where the application runs.
Experimental results show that through composable IO,
applications with composable IO can achieve high efficiency
compared with native IO.
Keywords- IO sharing; Live migration; Virtualization
home, he can jointly use smart phone/MID and laptop/desktop
through different network connections to form a personal
Cloud. Under proper resource management scheme, resources
in such a Cloud can be grouped or shared in the most efficient
way to serve this person for his best user experience.
Our vision for future person-centralized working
environment where a personal handheld device, e.g., MID, is
probably the center of a person’s IT environment, is shown in
Figure 1. There are public Clouds that are managed by big data
center providers. A Cloud user can access such Clouds through
Internet, and enjoy different services that may take advantage
of the super computing power and intensive information/data
that data centers provide. There are also personal Clouds that
are built up by a personal handheld device and its surrounding
computing or consumer electronic (CE) devices. The interconnection for the components in a personal Cloud may be, for
example through near field communication (NFC) technology,
under which the underlying networks can be direct cable
connection or wireless networks (e.g., WLAN, WPAN,
Bluetooth, etc.).
The primary goal for Cloud computing is to provide
services that require resource aggregation. Through good
resource management/assignment scheme Cloud resources for
computation, storage, and IO/network can be efficiently
grouped or packaged to accomplish jobs that can’t be handled
by individual devices (e.g., server, client, mobile device).
Cloud may also help to accomplish tasks with a much better
QoS in terms of, e.g., job execution time at a much lower cost
in terms of, e.g., hardware investment and server management
Most Cloud research focuses on data center, e.g., EC2 [3],
where thousands of computing devices are pooled together for
Cloud service provision. The Cloud usage, however, may also
be applied to personal environment, because today an
individual may have multiple computing or communication
devices. For example, a person may have a cellular phone or a
Mobile Internet Device (MID) that he always carries with him.
He probably also has a laptop or a desktop that has a stronger
CPU/GPU set, a larger MEM/disk, a friendly input interface,
and a larger display. This stronger device may probably be left
somewhere (e.g.,office or home) due to inconvenience of
portability. Once the owner carries a handheld and approaches
to the stronger devices, e.g., when he is set at the office or at
Figure 1. A Person-Centralized Cloud
Efficient management for resource aggregation, clustering,
and sharing is required for both data center Cloud and personal
Cloud. Virtualization has been so far the best technology that
may serve this goal. Based on virtualization, computing and
storage resources can be shared or allocated by generating and
allocating virtual machines (VM) that run part of or entire
applications. In particular, when an application has been
partitioned and run in a number of VMs and each of the VMs
runs at different physical machines, we can say that computing
resources at these machines are aggregated to serve that
application. With the live VM migration capability [1] [2], the
pool of resources can be adjusted by migrating VMs to
different physical machines. In other words, through
virtualization resources at different devices can be aggregated
for single user in a flexible way without any extra hardware
keyboard/mouse, and can still access LPIA’s peripherals as the
same manner before migration.
Sharing or grouping CPU computing power by managing
VMs for a large work, as we described in the previous section,
has been widely studied in typical virtualization technologies
including VMware VSphere as well as open source
technologies such as Xen [4] and KVM [5]. VM allocation and
migration are applied for, e.g., load balancing and hot spot
elimination. However, how to efficiently aggregate and share
IO and its peripherals, which is another important resource
sharing issue in Cloud, has not been thoroughly investigated so
The paper is organized as follows. In section 3 we discuss
the resource sharing platform and introduce the composable IO.
In section 3 we present detailed design for composable IO logic.
In section 4 we show major performance measurements.
Finally in section 5 we conclude and list future works.
The methodology of sharing CPU through migration
implies IO sharing, because an application migrated to a new
host can use local IO resources at the target host machine.
However, a resource sharing case that a simple migration
cannot handle is that the required computing resource and IO
resource are located at different physical machines. This may
happen, for example, when an application has to utilize a strong
CPU on a laptop while at the mean time, it relies on handheld
IO functions such as network access.
In this work we address the above IO peripheral sharing
problem by enabling a process running on a physical machine
to access IO peripherals of any other physical machines. In
particular, we consider the highly dynamic nature of personal
Cloud where Cloud components and topology may change
frequently. We cover the case of IO sharing in the context of
VM migration, under which the physical IO that has been
accessed by an application will be maintained during and after
this application has been migrated to different physical
This remote IO access, or IO composition, is required when
the target host for migration does not have the same IO
environment as the original host, or the equivalent IO part has
been occupied by some other applications. Such a promigration IO access also implies that a user can use aggregated
IO peripherals from different devices, e.g., it can use IO from
both original and target host. Although in this work we use
personal Cloud as our primary investigated scenario, the work
can be extended to data center as well.
As a first step, we design a dedicated hardware to redirect
the mobile device’s I/O peripherals. This dedicated hardware
provides the I/O data path cross LPIA (low power Intel
architecture, e.g. MID and handheld) and HPIA (high
performance Intel architecture, e.g. desktop and laptop), the
LPIA’s application can seamlessly migrate to HPIA to use its
more powerful computation resource and more convenient
In summary, our major contributions are as follows:
– We design the first hardware solution for seamless promigration PCIe IO peripheral access. Such a composable IO
logic provides a much more convenient way for applications to
share Cloud resources especially IO peripherals.
–We prove that the concept works, and can greatly improve
user experience. The I/O device pass-through can be enabled to
provide near native I/O performance to upper layer VM.
A. State of Arts for Resource Sharing
In a personal Cloud the resources may be shared or
aggregated in different ways based on how applications require.
There is a need for computation resource sharing. More than
one device may collaborate and do the computing work
together through, e.g., parallel computing that has been
extensively studied for Grid Computing [7]. Another scenario
for computation resource sharing is that a weak device utilizes
resources from a stronger device. This has been shown in
previous works [8][9]. Graphic applications running at a small
device can be rendered at a device with a stronger GPU and a
larger display, through capturing graphic commands at small
device and sending them to the larger one.
Resource within a Cloud can be shared through either direct
physical resource allocation or virtual resource allocation.
Physical sharing is straightforward. Cloud members are
connected together through networks and assign their disk or
memory an uniform address for access, as what has been done
in [10]. The challenges are that existing network bandwidth
between any two Cloud members is much smaller than the
intradevice IO bandwidth, and the network protocol stack
results in extra latency for data or message move among
devices. This dramatically degrades the application
performance, in particular for real-time services. Even if the
new generation CPU chip architecture and networks may
mitigate such a problem by making the communication
between devices equally fast as within a device, due to the
dynamic nature of personal Cloud caused by mobility of the
centralized user, the Cloud topology and membership may
continuously change. Since any change will cause a reconfiguration for pooling the overall resources in a Cloud and
such a configuration not only takes time but also has to stop all
the active applications, hard resource allocation may not work
well in personal Cloud environment.
To address the above problem, virtualization [4][5] can be
applied and the migration based on virtualization can be used
for resource sharing or re-allocation by migrating applications
among different devices. An application can be carried in a VM
and migrated to a different physical machine that best supports
MID Guest OS
PC Guest OS
PCIE Root Complex
Guest OS
624.01MBps 126.42MBps
Pass-through NIC 624.01MBps 605.29MBps
Compared with emulation and para-virtualization, the passthrough method can significantly reduce the VMM overhead
however, it cannot be used in VM live migration unless there is
a physical link. To better accomplish the IO sharing among
personal Cloud, we propose the Composable IO logic (CIOL)
to redirect MID (LPIA)’s peripherals to PC (HPIA) platform.
Compared to the software redirection [12], which needs VMM
to intercept and redirect I/O operations, the hardware solution
can realize the higher performance I/O virtualization method:
device direct access.
Figure 3 shows the proposed Composable IO logic which
has following components:
On Chip
DMA Remapping Unit
MMIO and PIO Remapping Unit
Interrupt Remapping Unit
HPIA Interface
B. Composable IO
Traditional migration enables a certain level of IO sharing
between the origination and destination of a migration. For
example, a migrated process can still access the disk image at
its original host. Technology for pro-migration access for other
IO peripherals such as network adapter and sensors, which are
probably more pertinent to applications, has not been provided.
In personal Cloud, pro-migration access is highly desired
because of large difference in computing capability and broad
variety of IO peripherals among personal devices.
LPIA Interface
it, probably because that physical machine has the required
computing, network, or storage resources. Virtualization causes
performance and management overhead. However, the
flexibility it brings to resource management makes it by far the
most promising technique for Cloud resource management.
More importantly, VM can be migrated while keeping
applications alive [11]. This advantage makes the resource
sharing through VM allocation/migration even more appealing
in particular for applications that cannot be interrupted.
Configuration Space Remapping Unit
IO Redirection Layer
Composable I/O Logic
On Chip Fabric
Device 1(MID)
Device 2(MID)
Device N(MID)
Figure 2. Resource Sharing Platform
The required IO peripheral remote access capability in a
personal Cloud is illustrated in Figure 2. An application
running on laptop (PC) can access the IO peripherals on MID.
In this scenario, the application needs the joint utilization of
computing resource on the laptop and IO peripherals on the
MID. In other words, the overall computing and IO resources
are aggregated and assigned to an application that requires.
Note that the application can also use IO peripherals at the
laptop. As in this case all IO peripherals at both devices are
composed to serve the application, we call this IO sharing
platform composable IO. In the rest of the text, we use promigration IO access and composable IO interchangeably.
Composable IO enables a much richer resource sharing
usage, which helps to achieve easy CPU and IO sharing in a
virtualized Cloud environment. Through composable IO an
application should be able to switch among IO peripherals at
different devices without interrupting applications.
There are three kinds of IO virtualization technology, and
the most efficient one is the pass-though method. The other two
methods, emulation and para-virtualization obviously reduce
the IO performance according to our experimental result. With
this component, we can enable pass-through for IO devices.
Our experiments in Table I show the overhead in IOV. The
tested NIC is Intel Pro 1000 Gigabit Ethernet adapter.
Figure 3. HW Assisted Composable IO components
LPIA Interface: Composable I/O Logic acts as a
fabric agent on LPIA platform and the LPIA Interface is
the interface to on chip fabric.
HPIA Interface: Composable I/O Logic acts as a device
on HPIA platform. The interface can be PICe, Light Peak
optical cable or other high speed general purpose I/O interface.
DMA Remapping Unit: In order to support DMA
address translation, a DMA Remapping Unit is needed to pass
the data package to the HPIA memory space in a proper order
and format.
MMIO and PIO Remapping Unit: In order to make the
MID Guest OS, which is running on the HPIA after migration,
accesses the MID devices as the same way, all the IO
transactions between HPIA and MID should be handled by the
MMIO and PIO Remapping Unit.
Interrupt Remapping Unit: If the interrupt comes from
the MID’s device, this unit will forward this interrupt message
to the HPIA, and then trigger one virtual IRQ to Guest OS.
Configuration Space Remapping Unit: This unit is used
to handle the PCI/PCIe configuration message.
With all the functions above, CIOL is required to address
the following issues in IO redirecting:
A. MMIO/PIO Translation
For memory mapped IO, in order to distinguish different
MID’s devices, we need apply a memory space from the HPIA,
larger or equal to the sum of all the MID’s device memory
space. Figure 4 shows the address translation.
MID Memory Space
iii. The CIOL receives the request and then translates it to
Configuration Request to MID device.
PC Memory Space
Device 1 Bar
0 Offset
Device 1 End
ii. Hypervisor monitors the request and translates it to a
request to CIOL’s register bank;
Device 2 Bar
Device 1 End
Device 2 Start
Device 2 End
Device 2 End
Device N Bar
Device N Start
Device N End
Device N End
Figure 4. Memory Address Translation
When it is connected to HPIA, the CIOL applies a memory
space on HPIA platform. The amount of the memory space is
equal to the sum of the device’s memory size. The MMIO/PIO
transaction is trapped by CIOL, and send to the corresponding
device or memory space. The amount of the memory space can
be calculated as:
M IOSF _ PC  M MID _ device1  M MID _ device 2 
 M MID _ deviceN
As shown in Figure 4, CIOL do the address translation
work. The M IOSF _ PC is splited into N segments. Each one
corresponds to an MID device. For PIO, it is similar to MMIO
According to the analysis above, the CIOL should have at
least 3 BARs, one (BAR_CIOL) for its own registers supported
memory transport, one (BAR_MMIO) for MMIO and one
(BAR_PIO) for PIO.
B. Configuration Space Access
There are 3 types of PCIe request: memory, IO and
configuration. The configuration message is generated by the
Root Complex and should be delivered to the device properly.
CIOL is placed between the PC and MID’s devices. To
correctly transfer the configuration messages to the MID’s
devices, we need the software and hardware co-work.
As show in Figure 5, CIOL maintains a register bank which
reflects the configuration space of each device in MID.
Register Bank on CIOL
Device 1 Configuration
Device 2 Configuration
C. Interrupt Translation
CIOL supports both the MSI and legacy interrupts.
1) MSI
Message Signaled Interrupts (MSI) is a feature that enables
a device function to request service by writing a systemspecified data value to a system-specified address (using a PCI
DWORD memory write transaction).
CIOL need do the MSI remapping to support MSI
interrupts redirection. When CIOL is connected to the PC, the
PC software will read the Message Control registers and
provide software control over MSI.
The steps of MSI remapping are shown in Figure 6.
Device 1 interrupt
CIOL Interrupt Vector 1
Device 1
Memory address 1(MID)
Memory address 1(PC)
Device 2
Memory address 2(MID)
Device N interrupt
CIOL Interrupt Vector N
Device N
Memory address N(MID)
Memory address N(PC)
Device 2 interrupt
On the starting process, MID indicates the number of
interrupt vectors that the CIOL needs. When it is connected to
PC, CIOL will tell the PC to allocate corresponding resources.
When a MSI indicates arrives, the CIOL replaces the MID’s
memory address to the PC’s memory address and sends it to
the PC.
2) Legacy Interrupts
The legacy interrupts is supported by using virtual wires.
CIOL converts Assert/DeAssert messages to the corresponding
PCIE MSI messages and maps different device’s virtual wire to
PCIE INTx messages.
D. CIOL working flow
1) Configuration
When CIOL is connected to PC, the MID and PC configure
the CIOL one by one. Configuration from PC starts after
MID’s configuration as the MID should configure some
registers to do the memory mapping.
The MID configures the following CIOL registers:
MID_SM_ready: Indicate the MID is ready to send
memory data to PC;
MID_Device_No: Indicate how many devices on the
MID, 32 as the max;
MID_D(n)_Bar: Indicate Device n’s Bar, n depends
on the MID_Device_No;
MID_D(n)_Size: Indicate Device n’s Memory’s space,
n depends on the MID_Device_No;
Figure 5. CIOL Register Bank
i. Guest OS generates a Configuration Request;
Memory address 2(PC)
Figure 6. MSI remapping
Device N Configuration
The configuration message translation has the following
CIOL Interrupt Vector 2
Composable IO
When MID finishes its configuration, CIOL will become
available to PC and PC will start its configuration. It allocates
corresponding memory space to the CIOL and set the
PC_MR_ready to 1.
PC_MR_ready: Indicate the PC is ready to receive
memory data;
As the MID finds both the MID_SM_ready and
PC_MR_ready are asserted, the memory transfer starts.
2) Memroy Transfer
Memory transfer between two platforms is accomplished
by DMA. MID DMA the data to CIOL, and then CIOL
repackages the data to PC. PC uses BAR_ CIOL to configure
following registers:
DMA_ready: Indicate PC is ready to receive DMA
DMA_address: Indicate the DMA base address;
DMA_length: Indicate the DMA’s length;
3) IO Redirction
After the migration, the MID’s Guest OS is running on
PC’s VMM. It uses the same way to access the peripherals as
in the original platform. The accessing steps are explained as
following steps:
i. Guest OS initiates device accessing request, the
device’s address is MID’s memory space;
ii. The request is trapped by PC’s VMM. It transmits the
request to the CIOL;
iii. CIOL receives the request and decodes the address. It
repackages the request to the on chip bus and replaces
the original address by the on chip address;
The memory mapping method is shown in Figure 4.
In the testing environment, there are two devices connected
through cable network. One of the devices is MID and the
other is laptop. For MID, it has Intel Menlow platform, with an
Atom CPU Z530 (1.33 GHz), a 512K L2 Cache, and a 533
MHz FSB. Memory size is 2G. In MID host OS runs Linux
Kernel 2.6.27, while Guest OS is Windows XP SP3. For laptop,
it is HP DC 7700 CPU, with a Core 2 Duo E6400 2.13GHz
processor, a 2MB L2 Cache, and a 1066MHz FSB. Memory
size is 4G. In laptop host OS is Linux Kernel 2.6.27 and Guest
OS is also Windows XP SP3.
To validate our idea, we realized the device pass through
support on MID platform, and implemented the passed through
device state migration during the VM migration step. The
device pass through is based on memory 1:1 mapping
mechanism as the current LPIA is short of VT-d support.
A. Verification Hardware
Figure 10 is the verification platform. This platform
contains 2 PCIex1 ports. One simulates the MID interface and
the other one as the PC interface. The proposed CIOL is
verified in the FPGA.
Figure 7. Verification Platform
To do seamless migration verification, a modified PCIe
switch with a MUX logic is synthesized in order to obtain the
goal of seamless migration. The modified PCIe switch own all
function of a standard PCIe switch. The architecture is shown
in Figure 8.
PCIe Switch
Figure 8. Device Seamless Migration Verification
B. Device Pass-through
In 1:1 mapping, the mapping between GPA (Guest Physical
Address) and HVA/HPA (Host Virtual/Physical Address) are
fixed, established at VM initialization stage and kept
unchanged during runtime.
We changed the host OS kernel to reserve low end physical
memory and added a new option to make the VMM using the
reserved memory as guest OS memory, by this mechanism the
1:1 mapping is enabled and then GPA becomes equal to HPA.
So the GPA to HPA address translation is not needed for DMA
operations and device pass through become possible at VT-d
less platform.
For device pass-through, the MMIO or PIO is still needed
to be trapped and emulated by VMM. In our experiment, the
MMIO&PIO operations are intercepted by KVM and routed to
physical device’s PCI memory/IO space. The device interrupt
is served by host OS’ ISR (Interrupt Service Routine) and
injected to guest OS. The DMA operations are bypassed by
C. Device State Migration
Hot removing the passed through device before migration
and then hot adding it after migration can make the Guest OS
continue using it, but the device driver inside guest OS needs to
be reloaded and the status is lost. Take NIC for instance, all
connections will be reset due to the migration. There are
several proposed solutions to remain the status and connection
during migration: enabling a virtual NIC and bonding the real
NIC and virtual NIC, letting the virtual NIC take over the I/O
traffic when the real device is hot removed; another solution is
by leveraging “shadow drivers” to capture the state of a passthrough I/O driver in a virtual machine before migration and
start a new driver after migration. However, those solutions
need guest OS modification which needs much additional
Our proposed CIOL can address the problem mentioned
above. To demonstrate CIOL works well in this scenario, we
realized a new method to solve the problem mentioned above,
which needs no modification of guest OS and is transparent to
up layer applications.
Figure 12 shows the device state migration. The guest OS
has a pass-through device hosted on MID. To pass through a
device to guest OS, the VMM/Hypervisor emulates the
device’s MMIO and PIO and routes guest OS’ MMIO&PIO
operations to host OS/VMM’s physical PCI memory/IO spaces.
The device interrupt is served by host OS/VMM’s ISR and
injected to guest OS while DMA operations are passed through
by VT-d’s address translation or 1:1 mapping mechanism.
After the guest OS is migrated to PC/LAPTOP equipped with
the same device from our verification board, it cannot access
the passed through device since the PCI memory space and
IRQ resources are different at target platform. We reestablish
the mapping between guest OS’ resource and host OS/VMM’s
resource to make the guest OS access the device by the same
manner before migration.
Figure 9. Device state migration
The passed through device information migration and
restoration ability is added to the VM migration process. When
the memory state migration is done, VMM migrates every
passed through device’s information together with the memory
state if presents. The transferred device information includes
the device’s ID (including vendor ID, device ID etc.), the guest
OS’ PCI memory/IO space allocated to that device(including
the base address, size and type), and the guest OS’ IRQ number
for that device.
At the end of VM migration process in acceptance part,
VMM checks if there are passed through device information
embedded, if found, it executes the below steps:
 Step 1: Looks for the physical device based on the device
ID extracted from passed through device information from
MID, gets the PCI spaces resources allocated to the device
at host OS/VMM, allocates an IRQ number and registers an
ISR for that device.
 Step 2: Establishes the mapping between guest OS’ PCI
spaces and host OS/VMM’s PCI space resource. The guest
OS’ PCI space information is also extracted from passed
through device information from MID. The MMIO&PIO
operations derived from guest OS’ driver will be served by
the MMIO&PIO emulator and routed to the real device’s
PCI spaces.
 Step 3: Establishes the mapping between guest OS’ ISR and
host OS/VMM’s ISR, the guest OS’ IRQ number is
extracted from passed through device information from
MID. The device’s interrupt is served by host OS/VMM’s
ISR and injected to guest OS’ original ISR.
 Step 4: Enables the device. The PCI/PCIe device on the
target platform must be enabled before using (resuming the
guest OS), or the device will not give response to up layer
software. It is done by writing a value (“0x7” is a common
value) to the command register.
The sequence of step2 and step3 can be exchanged as it
does not affect the result. After executing these 4 steps, the
guest OS can be resumed executing and the device driver can
access its device by the same manner just as before migration.
Because the device’s status and TCP/IP connection are kept in
guest OS, the applications can seamless continue executing
after migration.
D. Experimental Result
We have implemented the prototype of this idea
successfully. In the prototype, a guest Windows is migrated
between MID (Menlow platform) and PC/LAPTOP platforms
with the MUX logic described above. We test both Intel Pro
1000 Ethernet card and Intel 4965 AGN wireless NIC. The up
layer driver only reads NIC’s hard MAC at driver initialization
period and keep it at memory after that, after being migrated
and run on a new NIC, the up layer driver still treats its MAC
as the kept MAC so the TCP/IP traffic can continue seamlessly.
For wireless NIC, there is firmware running on NIC which is
not migrated to target. However, the guest OS’ wireless driver
can treat it as a firmware error and reload firmware to the new
NIC, and the association information and beacon template are
stilled kept unchanged at driver, so the association and network
connection can still be remained and kept unchanged after
being migrated to target.
In this work we design and evaluate composable logic for
personal Cloud applications. IO access is kept alive after live
migration. Such a pro-migration IO sharing helps Cloud to
more flexibly arrange and allocate resources, in particular when
an application may require computing resources and IO
peripherals at different physical machines. Experimental results
validate our design.
At former stage of our work [12], we have implemented the
pure-software solutions which the USB devices or block
devices’ data is redirected to PC/LAPTOP. At that kind of
method, the I/O operations is needed to be intercepted and
redirected by a software module, so the I/O operations cannot
be bypassed between KVM and guest OS, and hence device
pass-through cannot be used for I/O device virtualization.
There are mainly two problems for that kind of pure software
The I/O virtualization efficiency is very low (4.7% for
Ethernet NIC emulation and 20.3% for Ethernet NIC
Much additional software efforts are needed to
realize/maintain the I/O device emulator or paravirtualization driver and the intercept/redirect module.
To enhance the efficiency, we raise our proposal to resolve
following problem: device pass-through plus hardware based
CIOL. The device pass-through can get near native I/O
performance and the additional software efforts to realize the
emulator and para-virtualization driver is also being removed.
The hardware based CIOL provides the data path to make the
applications can still access its original device after being
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