Which Virtualization Strategy is Right for You?

Which Virtualization Strategy is Right for You?

By Chip Downing


Advances in microprocessor technology now enable embedded and IoT designers to create very powerful solutions by integrating both information technology (IT) and operational technology (OT) into shared, consolidated compute platforms.

Today’s embedded microprocessors have hardware-assisted virtualization intellectual property that supports full operating system environments in virtual machines (VMs) on a shared compute environment. Although this capability has existed in enterprise and IT solutions spaces for over a decade, it is just now becoming commonplace in embedded devices and OT environments. The reduced size, weight and power (SWaP) requirements make using virtualization a very attractive alternative for next generation designs.

The software that controls this virtualization is typically referred to as a hypervisor. Type 1 hypervisors boot directly from silicon and offer the highest level of performance. Type 2 hypervisors are enabled after a foundation OS, like Linux, has booted up; these tend to offer the highest level of functionality and manageability.

The industry has created multiple virtualization strategies to fit a wide range of optimized domains. So which one should you choose?

At Wind River, we have four proven virtualization strategies for satisfying needs across the OT/IT, device-to-cloud spectrum:

VxWorks Virtualization.  Virtualization Profile for VxWorks is a real-time embedded, Type 1 hypervisor that supports the integration of VxWorks, Linux, Microsoft Windows and other OS/RTOS environments onto a single multi-core platform. This set of capabilities significantly reduces costs while dramatically increasing device functionality. The VxWorks hypervisor supports both 32-bit and 64-bit processors, and allows a high level of optimization for assigning cores to a particular VM.  Virtualization Profile also supports the VirtIO standards-based device virtualization, as well as a high-speed virtual TCP/IP network for inter-virtual machine communication. Virtualization Profile for VxWorks supports a wide range of multi-core microprocessors including ARM, Intel, and Power.

Open Virtualization Profile.  Wind River Open Virtualization Profile is a real-time embedded virtualization solution using open source kernel-based virtual machine (KVM) technology. Open Virtualization Profile is a Type 2 hypervisor based upon a core Linux platform optimized for real-time embedded performance. It can be managed using commercial enterprise management tools, enabling flexible provisioning and live migration capabilities. This hypervisor supports the simultaneous support of multiple Linux distributions along with Wind River VxWorks, Android, and Microsoft Windows. Standard-based Wind River Open Virtualization Profile implements VirtIO device virtualization, provides VM separation via namespaces/cgroups, and has an integrated Docker engine with full support for libcontainer for easy creation and management of your system or application containers.

VxWorks 653.  VxWorks 653 is Wind River’s commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) ARINC 653 real-time operating system solution designed for multi-level safety critical systems. VxWorks 653 leads the industry with more than 200 customers using VxWorks 653 in over 375 programs in over 75 global civilian and military aircraft, including the Boeing 787 Dreamliner, the Airbus A400M, and the Northrop Grumman UH-60V. The robust time and space safety partitioning and type 1 hypervisor virtualization capabilities of VxWorks 653 is proven in certified mission-critical avionics system  and make it an excellent choice for critical industrial, medical, and transportation systems. For FAA and EASA certified systems, VxWorks 653 has RTCA DO-178C and EUROCAE ED-12C design assurance level (DAL) A COTS certification evidence, provided on a DVD containing over 70,000 files, to support its safety qualities. IEC 61508 and other industrial, medical, and transportation safety certifications can also be supported, for example VxWorks 653 is used on the ControlSafe platform by Artesyn for EN50128 SIL 4 applications. VxWorks 653 platforms can also be deployed in programs requiring alignment with the Future Airborne Capabilities Environment (FACE™) Technical Standard managed by The Open Group.

Titanium Server.  Wind River Titanium Server is the industry’s first fully integrated and feature-complete network function virtualization (NFV) software platform, providing 6-nines (99.9999%) uptime reliability and high performance efficiencies for virtualized telecommunications networks. Titanium Server is a Linux-based type 2 hypervisor and provides an application-ready software platform that runs virtual functions with carrier grade reliability. Titanium Server is  open standards-based, including support for OpenStack and VirtIO,  and is built to support the intensive performance, reliability, and security requirements of the world’s most demanding computing and communications networks.

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