Anant Agarwal, and
Exploiting Two-Case Delivery for Fast Protected
Messaging. Proceedings of 4th Int'l Symposium on High
Performance Computer Architecture Feb. 1998.
(pdf, compressed postscript)
We propose and evaluate two complementary techniques to protect and virtualize a tightly-coupled network interface in a multicomputer. The techniques allow efficient, direct application access to network hardware in a multiprogrammed environment while gaining most of the benefits of a memory-based network interface. First, two-case delivery allows an application to receive a message directly from the network hardware in ordinary circumstances, but provides buffering transparently when required for protection. Second, virtual buffering stores messages in virtual memory on demand, providing the convenience of effectively unlimited buffer capacity while keeping actual physical memory consumption low. The evaluation is based on workloads of real and synthetic applications running on a simulator and partly on emulated hardware. The results show that the direct path is also the common path, justifying the use of software buffering. Further results show that physical buffering requirements remain low in our applications despite the use of unacknowledged messages and despite adverse scheduling conditions.