Microsoft Developing Multi-Core OS Codenamed “Barrelfish"

Submitted by lalit on October 1, 2009 - 5:52am.

Number of cores on a CPU is on a rise and companies like IBM and Intel are already talking about hundreds of cores on a single CPU within next 5 years. With increase in number of cores the problem of data management between cores also increases exponentially. To combat this problem Microsoft and ETH Zurich are developing a new OS codenamed “Barrelfish” that uses message passing and a database like system to pass information between cores.

According to Barrelfish website – “Barrelfish is a new research operating system being built in collaboration between ETH Zurich in Switzerland and Microsoft Research Cambridge in the UK. We are exploring how to structure an OS for future multi- and many-core systems. We are motivated by two closely related trends in hardware design: first, the rapidly growing number of cores, which leads to a scalability challenge, and second, the increasing diversity in computer hardware, requiring the OS to manage and exploit heterogeneous hardware resources.”

The most interesting part about the new OS is that it uses open source BSD libraries like Mac OS X. And the OS is available under 3-clause BSD-style license to operating system researchers for testing. However, Barrelfish lacks most of the features of an operating system that make it usable by anyone other than systems researchers. You can get more information about the OS at Barrelfish.org.