In a traditional Xen configuration domain 0 is used for a large number of different functions including running the toolstack(s), backends for network and disk I/O, running the QEMU device model instances, driving the physical devices in the system, handling guest console/framebuffer I/O and miscellaneous monitoring and management functions. Having all these functions in one domain produces a complex environment which is susceptible to shared fate on the failure of any one function, has complex interactions between functions (including resource contention) which makes it difficult to predict performance, and has limited flexibility (such as requiring the same kernel for all device drivers).

""Domain 0 disaggregation"" has been discussed for some time as a way to break out domain 0's functions into separate domains. Doing this enables each domain to be tailored to its function such as using a different kernel or operating system to drive different physical devices. Splitting functions into separate domains removes some of the unintentional interactions such as in-domain resource contention and reduces the system impact of the failure of a single function such as a device driver crash.

Although domain 0 disaggregation is not new it is seldom used in practise and much of its use is focussed on providing enhanced security. Citrix XenServer will be moving towards a disaggregated domain 0 in order to provide better security, scalability, performance, reliability, supportability and flexibility. This talk will describe XenServer's “Windsor” architecture and explain how it will provide the above benefits to customers and users. We will present an overview of the architecture and some early experimental measurements showing the benefits.

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