The vast majority of modern processors aren't sold for general-purpose computers, such as PCs and servers. Rather, those processors are placed into dedicated computers such as embedded systems. As the demand for lower costs and higher efficiency gains momentum, the need for embedded hypervisors will continue to grow.
Although embedded hypervisors don't make the same consolidation effect that rocked the data center, the use of virtualization brings better reliability, flexibility and security to a broad range of digital appliances and other dedicated devices.
There are numerous examples of embedded hypervisors in service today that help IT administrators achieve these benefits.
Mentor Embedded Hypervisor
The Mentor Embedded Hypervisor is a small and efficient Type 1 hypervisor intended for fast startups. It has a minimal effect on the performance of guest OSes such as Android, Nucleus real-time OS and Mentor Embedded Linux.
Mentor also provides strong isolation of guest OS instances, and enforces the provisioning of system resources to prevent applications problems from affecting other parts of the system. It can support ARM TrustZone for added security, and is usually touted for embedded systems in the automotive industry.
The Xvisor hypervisor is a small, open source Type 1 hypervisor that is both monolithic and feature-rich. It's capable of supporting high-performance operation on x86, 64-bit and ARM 5 through ARM 8 processors. Xvisor can support virtualization on older ARM chips that don't include ARM virtualization extensions. It also supports a wide range of guest OSes. Xvisor is a flexible platform that can handle a broad variety of tasks such as guest creation and destruction, network virtualization, high resolution time keeping and input device virtualization.
ACRN is an open source hypervisor intended for IoT uses across a wide range of hardware and OSes such as Linux, Android and real-time OS. ACRN can support complex computing systems that require levels of safety-criticality, though the hypervisor itself provides a small footprint, low latency for fast startups and responsive real-time hardware communication. ACRN can support multiple VMs and admins can use it for graphics, imaging, audio and other demanding tasks. ACRN also provides security and isolation for VM workloads.
Crucible Embedded Hypervisor
Crucible Embedded Hypervisor is a lightweight, high-performance hypervisor that is fault-tolerant. Crucible is designed for military tasks supporting strong separation and isolation of system components, while handling security tasks including VPNs, encryption and monitoring. Crucible guarantees accurate resource allocation and prevents oversubscription to avoid resource contention. The hypervisor also provides a means of rapid and effective upgrades as new releases become available.
A final example of an embedded hypervisor is the OKL4 Hypervisor, which is currently owned by General Dynamics. It's a real-time, Type 1 hypervisor that supports Linux, VxWorks and Android distributions. OLK4 touts secure and highly-optimized performance while maintaining strong security, which includes support for granular policies and the ARM TrustZone. Unlike other embedded hypervisors, OKL4 emphasizes copious power management capabilities. It's able to manage voltage and frequency scaling to minimize power use and to extend mobile device operation.
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