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Hypervisors

Delve into the world of Computer Science with this rigorous exploration of Hypervisors, a crucial element to understand in the realm of virtual computing. This insightful piece extensively covers everything from origins, definitions, and applications, to the critical roles that Hypervisors serve across different fields. Uncover comprehensive reviews of Type 1 and Type 2 Hypervisors, examining each of their unique features and common uses. The narrative further elucidates the intimate interplay between Hypervisors and virtual systems, giving you a rounded understanding of their impact on efficiency. Grasp the complexities of Hypervisors and enhance your foundational knowledge of this fundamental Computer Science component.

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Delve into the world of Computer Science with this rigorous exploration of Hypervisors, a crucial element to understand in the realm of virtual computing. This insightful piece extensively covers everything from origins, definitions, and applications, to the critical roles that Hypervisors serve across different fields. Uncover comprehensive reviews of Type 1 and Type 2 Hypervisors, examining each of their unique features and common uses. The narrative further elucidates the intimate interplay between Hypervisors and virtual systems, giving you a rounded understanding of their impact on efficiency. Grasp the complexities of Hypervisors and enhance your foundational knowledge of this fundamental Computer Science component.

Understanding Hypervisors in Computer Science

You might have heard the term 'Hypervisor' buzzing around in computer science. But what exactly is it? You're about to find out.

What is a Hypervisor: A Brief Overview

A hypervisor, also known as a virtual machine monitor (VMM), is a software, firmware, or hardware piece that allows running multiple virtual machines, each with separate operating systems, simultaneously on a host system.

Origins & Definition of Hypervisors

The term Hypervisor originated from the word 'supervisor'. The 'hyper' prefix was adopted to represent the one level higher than a supervisor. In terms of definition:

A Hypervisor is a function that abstracts — isolates — operating systems and applications from the underlying hardware.

Hypervisors were developed to efficiently utilize computer resources and to handle the increasing data processing requirements of complex applications.

Hypervisors in Modern Computing

In the present day, Hypervisors play a pivotal role in cloud computing, datacentres, and where server consolidation is needed. They are optimized to manage multiple virtual machines effectively.

Typically, you're a server admin with five individual physical servers, each running its own application. You could instead have one high-performance server running five virtual machines, each with its own application. A hypervisor making it all possible.

The Key Functions and Importance of Hypervisors

A hypervisor does more than just allowing multiple virtual machines on a single host. The list points below highlight some of its other critical functions:
  • Manages the virtual machines' resources
  • Ensures that each virtual machine is isolated from others
  • Allocates necessary resources to each virtual machine
  • Starts and shuts down virtual machines as required
  • Ensures the effective and fair distribution of CPU, memory, and other resources

Role of Hypervisor in Computer Science

The application of Hypervisors in the realm of computer science is wide and varied. Below is an example of some common utilizations.
Physical Server - Disk Storage - Hypervisor - Operating System - Apps
In the configuration above, the Hypervisor controls access to physical resources, and provide a consistent platform for the operating system to run on different hardware configurations.

Hypervisor Use Cases Across Different Fields

Hypervisors have found widespread use, not just in IT infrastructure, but also in various other fields. A few examples are:
  • In the automotive industry, Hypervisors are used to isolate the infotainment systems from the critical systems for safety purposes.
  • In the financial sector, Hypervisors allow for the maintenance of legacy systems alongside newer systems.
  • In Scientific Research, Hypervisors allow for simulations and analyses to be run on isolated systems, avoiding any risk to the primary research data.

Despite their wide usage, Hypervisors are just one of several virtualization tools. Containerization tools like Docker also play a significant role in modern application deployment strategies.

The Different Types of Hypervisors

As we delve further into the world of hypervisors, it's important to note that there are two distinct types of hypervisors – Type 1 and Type 2. These vary in the way they interact with the host system and the virtual machines.

Type 1 Hypervisor: An In-depth Review

Type 1 Hypervisors, also known as "native" or "bare metal " hypervisors, are installed directly onto the host hardware. This direct link to the hardware, without the intermediary of an operating system, offers several benefits. For starters, the absence of a separate OS layer minimises latency. Through direct control of hardware resources, Type 1 Hypervisors enable you to maximise performance.

Moreover, since they do not rely on an underlying operating system, Type 1 Hypervisors inherently have superior security and reliability.

Features and Utilities of Type 1 Hypervisor

Type 1 Hypervisors are extensively used in enterprise environments, and their features are closely aligned with this usage:
  • High Performance: Without the overhead of a host operating system, Type 1 Hypervisors can directly manage and allocate hardware resources for optimum performance.
  • Superior Isolation: Each virtual machine operates independently. Consequently, if one machine encounters a problem, the others remain unaffected. This feature makes Type 1 Hypervisors highly suitable for mission-critical applications.
  • Compatibility: Given their direct interaction with hardware, Type 1 Hypervisors can efficiently manage a wide array of hardware configurations and types.
  • Security: The absence of a host OS also ensures that any potential vulnerability within the OS doesn't impact the hypervisor or the virtual environments running on it.

Common Examples of Type 1 Hypervisor

There are a number of widely used Type 1 Hypervisors with varying features and specialisations. Here's a rundown of a few noteworthy ones:
VMware ESXi VMware's flagship hypervisor, known for its comprehensive feature set.
Microsoft Hyper-V A Windows-based hypervisor with strong integration with other Microsoft services.
Xen Project An open-source hypervisor popular for its configurable nature and community support.

Type 2 Hypervisor: A Comprehensive Analysis

Moving on to Type 2 Hypervisors, these are often referred to as "hosted" hypervisors as they are installed on top of the host system's operating system, not directly on the hardware.

Essential Features of Type 2 Hypervisor

  • Simplicity and Ease of Use: Due to their resemblance to traditional applications running on an operating system, Type 2 Hypervisors are generally easier to set up and manage.
  • Compatibility: Given that they run as software on an operating system, Type 2 Hypervisors can run on a broader range of hardware - provided the host operating system supports it.
  • Integration: As they live on the host OS, Type 2 Hypervisors can integrate closely with the operating system, which may result in better support for some peripherals and devices.

Common Usage of Type 2 Hypervisor

Examples of Type 2 Hypervisors include VMware Workstation, Oracle's VirtualBox, and Parallels. These solutions are often used by developers for testing software across multiple operating systems on a single physical computer.

Hypervisor and Virtual Systems

In the realm of computer science, Hypervisors and virtual systems are interconnected. The relationship is based on the fact that hypervisors facilitate virtualisation, and virtual systems make use of this feature to function optimally. To understand this dynamic, let's delve deeper into how these technologies interact.

The Interplay between Virtual Systems and Hypervisors

The nexus between hypervisors and virtual systems is of great consequence in understanding the paradigm of modern computing. Hypervisors serve as crucial elements that create the platform that allows these virtual systems to run. Without hypervisors, virtual systems could not exist. Hypervisors provide the environment, called a virtual machine (VM), in which an operating system can run. These VMs, in essence, mimic the functionality of a physical computer. They have simulated versions of fundamental elements like CPU, memory, and disk storage. Given their role, it is crucial to understand two key features of Hypervisors, which are Virtual Machine Isolation and Virtual Machine Inspection.
  • Virtual Machine Isolation: Hypervisors are responsible for maintaining boundaries between different virtual machines. Each VM operates in isolation, and issues that occur within one VM do not affect others. This scenario is true even when many VMs share the same hardware resources.
  • Virtual Machine Inspection: Hypervisors can examine the state of a virtual machine. This ability helps in identifying when a VM is idle and not utilising resources, and the hypervisor reassigns these resources to other VMs to optimise resource utilisation.

How Hypervisors Facilitate Virtual Systems

Hypervisors create and control virtual machines, thus making virtual systems possible. With a hypervisor in place, here's how a typical system setup looks:
Physical Server → Disk Storage → Hypervisor → Virtual Machine → Operating System → Applications
In this setup, the hypervisor controls access to the physical resources of the machine and provides a consistent platform for the virtual system to operate on. In order to manage a virtual system effectively, hypervisors perform several operations:
  1. VM Allocation: Hypervisors allocate the physical server resources to different virtual machines.
  2. VM Scheduling: The hypervisor decides which VM accesses the CPU based on scheduling algorithms.
  3. VM Execution: Evaluating each instruction in a VM, the hypervisor decides whether to execute or hold it.
  4. VM Management: The hypervisor also manages the start, pause, and stop operations of each VM.

The Impact of Hypervisors on Virtual Systems Efficiency

The efficiency of a virtual system directly corresponds to the efficiency of the hypervisor. Hypervisors boost efficiency by maximising server usage. Physical servers often remain largely underutilised, with some studies showing average server utilisation rates of around 15%. With hypervisors, several virtual systems can run on a single server, thereby ramping up server utilisation and cutting down on server costs. In addition, hypervisors also contribute to a reduction in power usage, cooling requirements, and server maintenance costs. They allow for streamlined software deployment processes, as software can be installed or updated on one VM, and the changes can quickly replicate to other VMs.

However, the efficiency of a hypervisor can vary based on its type. Type 1 or 'bare-metal' hypervisors are generally more efficient than Type 2 or 'hosted' hypervisors. This is because Type 2 hypervisors must share resources with the underlying operating system, leading to potential conflicts and inefficiencies.

Hypervisors - Key takeaways

  • A Hypervisor, also known as a virtual machine monitor (VMM), is a software, firmware, or hardware piece that allows running multiple virtual machines, each with separate operating systems, simultaneously on a host system.
  • The term Hypervisor originated from the word 'supervisor'. It is a function that abstracts — isolates — operating systems and applications from the underlying hardware. Hypervisors were developed to efficiently utilize computer resources and to handle the increasing data processing requirements of complex applications.
  • There are two distinct types of hypervisors – Type 1 and Type 2. Type 1 Hypervisors, also known as "native" or "bare metal" hypervisors, are installed directly onto the host hardware. Type 2 Hypervisors, often referred to as "hosted" hypervisors, are installed on top of the host system's operating system, not directly on the hardware.
  • The role of Hypervisor in computer science is wide and varied. It manages the virtual machines' resources, ensures that each virtual machine is isolated from others, and starts and shuts down virtual machines as required. Hypervisors are pivotal in cloud computing, data centres, and server consolidation scenarios. They have also found use in industries like automotive and finance, and in areas like scientific research.
  • Hypervisors and virtual systems are interconnected. Hypervisors facilitate virtualisation, and virtual systems make use of this feature to function optimally. Hypervisors provide the environment or virtual machines (VMs) in which an operating system can run. They manage VM allocation, scheduling, execution, and management, thereby facilitating the operation and improving the efficiency of virtual systems.

Frequently Asked Questions about Hypervisors

Type 1 hypervisors, also called bare metal hypervisors, run directly on the host's hardware to control and manage guest operating systems. Type 2 hypervisors, also termed hosted hypervisors, function on a conventional operating system like a software application.

Hypervisors can run most common operating systems, although compatibility may vary. Performance depends on the Hypervisor type and hardware resources, but can be close to that of a conventional system if adequately optimised.

The primary security considerations when implementing Hypervisors include ensuring isolated execution environments, protection of hypervisor against attacks, correctly implementing access controls, and ensuring secure communication between virtual machines. Regular patching and updates are also essential to maintain security.

Hypervisors improve resource management by allowing virtualisation. This allows multiple operating systems to run concurrently on a single physical system, sharing resources such as RAM and CPU. This enhances efficiency by reducing idle resources and providing the ability to allocate resources as needed.

The leading hypervisors software options currently available in the market include VMware vSphere (ESXi), Microsoft's Hyper-V, Citrix XenServer, Oracle VM Server and KVM (Kernel-based Virtual Machine). Each offers unique features to cater for various computing needs.

Test your knowledge with multiple choice flashcards

What is a hypervisor in computer science?

What are some key functions of a hypervisor?

Why was the term 'Hypervisor' adopted from 'supervisor'?

Next

What is a hypervisor in computer science?

A hypervisor, also known as a virtual machine monitor (VMM), is a software, firmware, or hardware piece that allows running multiple virtual machines, each with separate operating systems, simultaneously on a host system.

What are some key functions of a hypervisor?

It manages the virtual machines' resources, ensures that each virtual machine is isolated from others, allocates necessary resources to each machine, starts and shuts down virtual machines as required and ensures the fair distribution of CPU, memory, and other resources.

Why was the term 'Hypervisor' adopted from 'supervisor'?

The 'hyper' prefix was adopted to represent one level higher than a supervisor, identifying its role in abstracting or isolating operating systems and applications from the underlying hardware.

What different fields find use for hypervisors?

Hypervisors have widespread use, not just in IT, but also in the automotive industry to isolate infotainment systems for safety, the financial sector for maintaining legacy systems alongside new ones, and in scientific research to run isolated simulations, avoiding risk to the main research data.

What is a Type 1 Hypervisor and what are its features?

Type 1 Hypervisors, also known as native or bare metal hypervisors, are installed directly onto the host hardware without an operating system. They provide high performance, superior isolation of virtual machines, compatibility with various hardware configurations and increased security.

What are examples of Type 1 Hypervisors?

Examples of Type 1 Hypervisors include VMware ESXi, Microsoft Hyper-V, and the Xen Project.

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