SierraVisor Embedded Hypervisor

SierraVisor Hypervisor Development Toolkit

Sierraware has released a flexible, reliable hypervisor for ARM-based systems that supports not one, not two, but three distinct modes of operation. The SierraVisor HyperVisor Development Toolkit enables equipment manufacturers to choose the right solution for their processor architecture and virtualization requirements.

Overview of the SierraVisor Hypervisor Development Toolkit
The SierraVisor Hypervisor Development Toolkit enables equipment manufacturers to choose the right hypervisor for their processor architecture and virtualization requirements. SierraVisor allows multiple operating systems, including Linux, BSD, Android, and legacy real-time operating systems to run on a single host at the same time. Providing both paravirtualization and full hardware virtualization, the SierraVisor Hypervisor supports any ARM11, Cortex-A9, or Cortex-A15 platform.

Paravirtualization for ARM TrustZone-enabled Devices
The SierraVisor Hypervisor leverages hardware security extensions included in ARM TrustZone-enabled devices to run multiple, high-level operating systems concurrently. The guest operating systems are aware of the fact that they are running on top of a hypervisor, so minor modifications must be made to the guest operating systems.

Because of enhancements built for TrustZone technology, SierraVisor can operate efficiently with minimal impact on performance. In addition, each high-level operating system instance can still access a secure operating system (or TEE) for sensitive applications and data.

Paravirtualization for ARM11 and Cortex-A9 Devices without ARM TrustZone Extensions
SierraVisor extends virtualization capabilities to any ARM11 or Cortex-A9 platform. SierraVisor's paravirtualization technology minimizes modifications required for existing applications. A small number of non-intrusive hypercalls are inserted into the guest operating systems, reducing overhead. SierraVisor also offers robust multicore management, offering both symmetric and asymmetric multiprocessing for managing system utilization.

This mode of operation supports virtually all ARM-based systems currently in production today. However, it cannot match the high performance and low system impact of hardware virtualization.

Hardware Virtualization for Cortex-A15
With Cortex-A15, ARM introduced hardware virtualization support. The SierraVisor Hypervisor takes advantage of this new capability to provide true hardware virtualization. It requires no changes to the guest operating system and offers the higher performance and lower system impact than paravirtualization. The SierraVisor Hypervisor is ideally suited for equipment vendors that are developing next generation systems with Cortex-A15 processors.

Unique Integration with SierraTEE Trusted Execution Environment
With all three modes of operation, guest systems can still access the secure world provided by ARM TrustZone technology, so each guest system can protect sensitive data like DRM applications, encryption keys, and NFC payment applications.