The EVL Project

Pitching EVL

For certain types of applications, offloading a particular set of time-critical tasks to an autonomous software core hosted by the Linux kernel may deliver the best performance at the lowest engineering and runtime costs in comparison to forcing the entire kernel to meet the most demanding response time requirements which only those tasks have.

In a nutshell, the EVL project is about introducing a simple, scalable and dependable dual kernel architecture for Linux, based on the Dovetail interface for coupling a high-priority software core to the main kernel. This interface is showcased by a compact real-time core delivering basic services to applications via a straightforward API. EVL starts from a clean sheet, for the purpose of implementing a production-ready real-time infrastructure, which can also serve as a starting point for engineers to build their own flavour of software core running as part of the Linux system. This ongoing work is composed of:

  • the Dovetail interface, which introduces a high-priority execution stage into the main kernel logic, where a functionally-independent software core runs.

  • a compact real-time core, which is deeply integrated into the main kernel. The EVL core delivers dependable low-latency services to applications which have to meet real-time requirements. Applications are developed using the common Linux programming model.

  • an in-depth documentation which covers both Dovetail and the EVL core, with many cross-references between them, so that engineers can implement their software core of choice almost by example.

The result looks promising:

  • Low engineering and maintenance costs. With a manageable code footprint (20 KLOC, which is not even half the size of the Xenomai core) and a well-integrated implementation, working on EVL only requires common kernel development knowledge.

  • Low runtime cost. The EVL core has excellent real-time performances including on low-end, single-core hardware, leaving plenty of CPU cycles for running GPOS work concurrently.

  • High scalability. From single core to high-end multi-core machines running time-critical workloads in parallel with low and bounded latency. EVL does not require CPU isolation for running tasks with demanding real-time response requirements, although this may help in getting even lower latency figures.

  • Low configuration. No runtime tweaks are required to ensure that the real-time behavior is not affected by other parts of the Linux system. Once enabled in the kernel, the EVL core is ready to deliver.

Getting the sources

You need to clone two GIT repositories:

The build recipe is available there.

Participate and discuss

EVL-related topics including Dovetail and the EVL real-time core can be discussed in this RIOT chat room.

Licensing terms

SPDX license identifiers are used throughout the code to state the licensing terms of each file clearly. This boils down to:

  • GPL-2.0 for the EVL core in kernel space.

  • GPL-2.0 WITH Linux-syscall-note for the UAPI bits exported to user-space, so that libevl knows at build time about the ABI details of the system call interface implemented by the EVL core.

  • MIT for all code from libevl, which implements the EVL system call wrappers, a few utilities and test programs.