Extreme High Performance Computing or Why Microkernels Suck

One often wonders how well Linux scales. We frequently get suggestions that Linux cannot scale because it is a monolithic operating system kernel. However, microkernels have never scaled well and Linux has been scaled up to support thousands of processors, terabytes of memory and hundreds of petabytes of disk storage which is the hardware limit these days. Some of the techniques used to make Linux scale were per cpu areas, per node structures, lock splitting, cache line optimizations, memory allocation control, scheduler optimizations and various other approaches. These required significant detail work on the code but no change in the general architecture of Linux.

The presentation will give an overview of why Linux scales and shows the hurdles microkernels would have to overcome in order to do the same. The presentation will assume a basic understanding of how operating systems work and familiarity with what functions a kernel performs.


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