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Embedded hypervisor aims mobile device apps

Posted: 24 Nov 2008     Print Version  Bookmark and Share

Keywords:embedded hypervisor  mobile device  software reuse  virtualisation 

Open Kernel Labs (OK Labs) has announced OKL4 3.0, an embedded hypervisor, and OKL4 Nano. With two configurations, OKL4 3.0 tragets the broad range of requirements of mobile device manufacturers that includes simple phones for emerging markets, feature phones, business-oriented smartphones, and phones with advanced multimedia support.

OKL4 Nano, with a memory footprint of less than 4KB, brings a fully compatible execution environment to classes of mobile devices that do not have the processing resources of a smartphone or feature phone.

The use of different processors and OSes across a mobile device product line makes it difficult to reuse software and expertise. OKL4 3.0 and OKL4 Nano lessen cost and time-to-market by increasing uniformity of the software architecture and allowing increased software reuse.

Instead of using one execution environment in lower-end handsets and then deploying a separate virtualisation solution in higher-end smartphones, OKL4 users can select the OKL4 Nano configuration, which allows applications written to run on OKL4 Nano to run in another device without modification.

OKL4 applications are OS agnostic with respect to application stacks, and therefore are reusable alongside Linux in one device and Symbian in another. OKL4 Nano is a small, fast kernel and is compatible with OKL4, which adds support for virtualisation, isolation and dynamic resource allocation.

"Not all mobile devices require virtualisation, but all require an execution environment to manage applications. Only OKL4 offers both," said Steve Subar, CEO, OK Labs.

The full configuration of OKL4 3.0 adds support for flexible security policies, resource allocation, and virtualisation. OKL4 3.0's existing Secure HyperCell technology combines virtualisation support with a protected native execution environment that eliminates the need for a separate RTOS, and subjects communication between sub-systems to a mandatory, system-wide security policy. Secure HyperCell technology is delivered in a small software package that meets the resource usage, security and performance requirements of mobile devices.

OKL4 3.0 features a memory-usage tool that allows developers to generate a memory map of both physical and virtual memory in order to determine the memory usage of their final image.

The tool provides an easy to understand output from the system configuration process, allowing the developer to quickly confirm that the system has been configured correctly with respect to memory usage.

The OKL4 SDK allows a third-party developer to create a new SoC module independently of the OK Labs-provided module supporting the SoC's processor core. It allows a developer to obtain core kernel binaries and SoC modules from different vendors.

This means that third parties can add SoC-specific support for a particular chip from suppliers such as Broadcom, Freescale, Infineon, NXP, ST, Qualcomm, ST, TI, or any other ARM licencee to the support for a specific ARM 926 core that is provided by OKL4 3.0.

The OKL4 SDK also allows developers to easily develop and integrate new applications for OKL4. The OKL4 SDK contains all the header files and libraries needed when developing new software for use with OKL4. It also includes the tools to integrate cells from independent sources without needing to rebuild the distributed software.

OKL4 3.0 is open source and available for download now. Commercial product development and deployment requires a commercial licence from OK Labs.

-Toni McConnel

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