The University of New South Wales

The OKL4 microvisor: Convergence point of microkernels and hypervisors


Gernot Heiser and Ben Leslie

Open Kernel Labs




We argue that recent hypervisor-vs-microkernel discussions completely miss the point. Fundamentally, the two classes of systems have much in common, and provide similar abstractions. We assert that the requirements for both types of systems can be met with a single set of abstractions, a single design, and a single implementation. We present partial proof of the existence of this convergence point, in the guise of the OKL4 microvisor, an industrial-strength system designed as a highly-efficient hypervisor for use in embedded systems. It is also a third-generation microkernel that aims to support the construction of similarly componentised systems as classical microkernels. Benchmarks show that the microvisor’s performance is highly competitive.

BibTeX Entry

    month            = aug,
    keywords         = {microkernels, hypervisors, virtual machines, operating systems, trusted computing base},
    paperurl         = {},
    booktitle        = {Asia-Pacific Workshop on Systems (APSys)},
    author           = {Heiser, Gernot and Leslie, Ben},
    year             = {2010},
    pages            = {19--24},
    title            = {The {OKL4} Microvisor: Convergence Point of Microkernels and Hypervisors},
    address          = {New Delhi, India}