Skip to main content


Many-core chips — a case for virtual shared memory


Gernot Heiser




We make the case for virtual shared memory (VSM) for supporting future many-core chips. VSM is a shared memory abstraction implemented over distributed memory by a hypervisor, providing the operating system direct access to all memory in the system. VSM on a distributed-memory system, such as a many-core chip with local memory associated with each core or small group of cores, provides a non-uniform memory model to the operating system. We argue, based on our experience with a prototype called vNUMA (implemented on a cluster), that this model can perform well for NUMA-aware software. The indirection layer provided by the virtualization provides benefits to hardware manufacturers, as it can absorb certain faults, including faulty nodes and packet losses in the interconnect.

BibTeX Entry

    author           = {Heiser, Gernot},
    month            = {mar},
    year             = {2009},
    keywords         = {operating systems, virtual machines, hypervisors, multicore},
    title            = {Many-Core Chips — A Case for Virtual Shared Memory},
    booktitle        = {Workshop on Managed Many-Core Systems},
    pages            = {4 pages},
    address          = {Washington, DC, USA}