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Bridging the Gap Between Software and Hardware Techniques for I/O Virtualization

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Executive Summary

The paravirtualized I/O driver domain model, used in Xen, provides several advantages including device driver isolation in a safe execution environment, support for guest VM transparent services including live migration, and hardware independence for guests. However, these advantages currently come at the cost of high CPU overhead which can lead to low throughput for high bandwidth links such as 10 gigabit Ethernet. This paper shows how to significantly narrow the performance gap by improving the performance of the driver domain model. In particular, they reduce execution costs for conventional NICs by 56% on the receive path, and they achieve close to direct I/O performance for network devices supporting multiple hardware receive queues.

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