IMAGINATION TECHNOLOGIES has announced the creation of a tiny hypervisor rig to power its MIPS-based CPUs.
The joint venture with Japanese firm Seltech saw the Fexerox hypervisor embedded firmware from Seltech paired with an Imagination MIPSM5150 CPU to create a virtualised environment, allowing multiple operating systems to run independently off a single unit packed into a tiny space.
A recent demonstration at the Embedded Technology Conference in Japan (below) showed a real-time operating system powering a motor which was completely unaffected by the booting, running and closing down of a Linux operating system on the same CPU.
The main advantage is that, in spite of its tiny footprint of just 32k, it is able to provide complete isolation for multiple systems, thereby ensuring that if the security of one is in any way impaired, the coexisting systems are completely unaffected.
Ian Anderton, senior manager of business development at Imagination, told The INQUIRER: "We're now providing virtualisation that used to be limited to the very high end in a low cost, low footprint microprocessor."
The upshot is that functionality that was previously available only in complex mainframes is now available to home users.
"It becomes more apparent when you think about things like the Internet of Things [IoT], the automated home, and making payments online," Anderton continued.
"You can control your interconnected devices internally, but once you get into the outside world it becomes a lot more difficult. With virtualisation, if people try to hack into one of your devices, they won't be able to use it to hack into your home network."
With an eye squarely on applications in the burgeoning IoT market, the miniaturisation of hypervisors with this level of power could result in significant cost savings for existing virtualisation users at a corporate level.
Machines could run off a much smaller footprint in terms of energy consumption and physical size, with the bonus of added security.
"We see a whole range of use cases including industrial, wearables, IoT, automotive, cloud computing, networks, storage and home entertainment that want to run multiple applications," said Anderton.
The concept has already been licensed to a number of microprocessor manufacturers and the fruits are likely to start appearing in the later part of 2015. µ
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