Trustworthy Systems

A memory allocation model for an embedded microkernel


Dhammika Elkaduwe, Philip Derrin and Kevin Elphinstone

NICTA, Sydney, Australia
UNSW, Australia


High-end embedded systems featuring millions of lines of code, with varying degrees of assurance, are becoming commonplace. These devices are typically expected to meet diverse application requirements within tight resource budgets. Their growing complexity makes it increasingly difficult to ensure that they are secure and robust. One approach is to provide strong guarantees of isolation between components --- thereby ensuring that the effects of any misbehaviour are confined to the misbehaving component. This paper focuses on an aspect of the system's behaviour that is critical to any such guarantee: management of physical memory resources. In this paper, we present a secure physical memory management model that gives hard guarantees on physical memory consumption. The model dictates the in-kernel mechanisms for allocation, however the allocation policy is implemented outside the kernel. We also argue that exporting allocation to user-level provides the flexibility necessary to implement the diverse resource management policies needed in embedded systems, while retaining the high-assurance properties of a formally verified kernel.

BibTeX Entry

    address          = {Sydney, Australia},
    author           = {Dhammika Elkaduwe and Philip Derrin and Kevin Elphinstone},
    booktitle        = {International Workshop on Microkernels for Embedded Systems},
    month            = jan,
    organization     = {NICTA},
    pages            = {28--34},
    paperurl         = {},
    title            = {A Memory Allocation Model for an Embedded Microkernel},
    year             = {2007}