ETH Zurich in Switzerland and Microsoft Research Cambridge in the UK are exploring how to structure an OS for future multi- and many-core systems. The result of work for the past two years and was released.

The teams have released the first snapshot of Barrelfish online under a BSD style license. You can download it from the team’s site, The Barrelfish Operating System. Barrelfish is written from scratch, almost all in C or assembler, and it runs on 64-bit x86 platforms.

The team is coming up with answers around main challenges for operating systems to scale as the number of cores increases, while dealing with processor and system heterogeneity. We have proposed a radically different way of structuring an operating system to address these challenges. The team is looking at an asynchronous programming model and a parallel file system.

Currently Barrelfish doesn’t have many of the features that make it a real operating system. It’s designed to be enough to do research and measure the OS effectiveness.

Bruce D. Kyle
ISV Architect Evangelist | Microsoft Corporation

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