Hardware Virtualization Support in the RISC-V CVA6 Core


A new technical paper titled “CVA6 RISC-V Virtualization: Architecture, Microarchitecture, and Design Space Exploration” was published (preprint) by researchers at Universidade do Minho, University of Bologna, and ETH Zurich.


“Virtualization is a key technology used in a wide range of applications, from cloud computing to embedded systems. Over the last few years, mainstream computer architectures were extended with hardware virtualization support, giving rise to a set of virtualization technologies (e.g., Intel VT, Arm VE) that are now proliferating in modern processors and SoCs. In this article, we describe our work on hardware virtualization support in the RISC-V CVA6 core. Our contribution is multifold and encompasses architecture, microarchitecture, and design space exploration. In particular, we highlight the design of a set of microarchitectural enhancements (i.e., G-Stage Translation Lookaside Buffer (GTLB), L2 TLB) to alleviate the virtualization performance overhead. We also perform a design space exploration (DSE) and accompanying post-layout simulations (based on 22nm FDX technology) to assess performance, power and area (PPA). Further, we map design variants on an FPGA platform (Genesys 2) to assess the functional performance-area trade-off. Based on the DSE, we select an optimal design point for the CVA6 with hardware virtualization support. For this optimal hardware configuration, we collected functional performance results by running the MiBench benchmark on Linux atop Bao hypervisor for a single-core configuration. We observed a performance speedup of up to 16\% (approx. 12.5\% on average) compared with virtualization-aware non-optimized design, at the minimal cost of 0.78\% in area and 0.33\% in power.”

Find the technical paper here. Published Feb. 2023.

Sá, B., Valente, L., Martins, J., Rossi, D., Benini, L., & Pinto, S. (2023). CVA6 RISC-V Virtualization: Architecture, Microarchitecture, and Design Space Exploration. arXiv preprint arXiv:2302.02969.


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