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Diagnosing performance overheads in the xen virtual machine environment

Authors (if Research)
Menon A, Santos JR, Turner Y, Janakiraman G, Zwaenepoel W.
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1st ACM/USENIX International Conference on Virtual Execution Environments - VEE 2005. New York, New York, USA: ACM Press; 2005:13-23 ABSTRACT: Virtual Machine (VM) environments (e.g., VMware and Xen) are experiencing a resurgence of interest for diverse uses including server consolidation and shared hosting. An application's performance in a virtual machine environment can differ markedly from its performance in a non-virtualized environment because of interactions with the underlying virtual machine monitor and other virtual machines. However, few tools are currently available to help debug performance problems in virtual machine environments.In this paper, we present Xenoprof, a system-wide statistical profiling toolkit implemented for the Xen virtual machine environment. The toolkit enables coordinated profiling of multiple VMs in a system to obtain the distribution of hardware events such as clock cycles and cache and TLB misses. The toolkit will facilitate a better understanding of performance characteristics of Xen's mechanisms allowing the community to optimize the Xen implementation.We use our toolkit to analyze performance overheads incurred by networking applications running in Xen VMs. We focus on networking applications since virtualizing network I/O devices is relatively expensive. Our experimental results quantify Xen's performance overheads for network I/O device virtualization in uni- and multi-processor systems. With certain Xen configurations, networking workloads in the Xen environment can suffer significant performance degradation. Our results identify the main sources of this overhead which should be the focus of Xen optimization efforts. We also show how our profiling toolkit was used to uncover and resolve performance bugs that we encountered in our experiments which caused unexpected application behavior.
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