Avian Parallel Operating Systems

One interesting potential of Avian Computing is its loosely decoupled nature. On occasion, I’ve compared an Avian program to a flock of birds landing in a field and looking for food and when they’ve found all their food (the program ends), they all fly away. But do all of them have to fly away?

What if the really basic birds didn’t fly away? What if the birds that handled keystrokes and serial ports and network communications and all the really low-level stuff remained in place? What if all of the birds that handled all the basic system behaviors remained active in memory? Suddenly, the single-threaded and highly protected kernel would disappear and all of its capabilities/functionality could be handled in parallel.

If you imagine a system with 10,000 cores, how would you process everything thru a single-threaded kernel? Or thru a tightly controlled multi-threaded kernel? Certainly they couldn’t all stop and wait for the kernel processes to complete before they continue. If we are going to derive any benefits from moving to kilo-core systems, we will need different operating system architectures to get those benefits.

What if the birds (cores) that handled system events all worked thru a standardized process, like the TupleTree(s)? All of these activities could work simply and asynchronously, without a lot of planning or coordination. It would provide a structure that enables highly parallel processing of operating system activities.

And if the “operating system” birds were auto-adjusting, like they are in Avian Computing, whenever a particular OS service needed additional processing power, the bird(s) responsible for that OS service could clone itself as many times as required to meet the need or hatch the appropriate kinds of birds.

Instead of compiling a single kernel that should handle most situations, a flock of OS birds would “fly down and land” into the computing hardware and grown/shrink to match the usage encountered for that individual system. Adding new features and capabilities to a system would be a relatively simple process of releasing a new bird with no need to install new drivers and rebooting or recompiling the kernel and then rebooting.

User-level software would have no need to know the details of how keystrokes or ethernet inputs were gathered; they would simply attempt to get the info they need from the TupleTree(s). The providing layers would look in the TupleTree(s) for the food that they need, and when they eat it, they’d store it back in the TupleTree(s) for the user-level software. The providing layers would eat food that was put in the TupleTree(s) by the operating system birds. It would be consistent from the lowest levels to the highest levels.

Security measures would need to be developed so individual systems aren’t compromised and infected with viruses and unwanted processes, but these could be developed in advance of releasing an Avian Operating System. And any updates to the kernel could be handled dynamically so there would never be a need to reboot.

One of the reasons why I am personally optimistic about Avian Computing is because it’s potential extends far beyond what can be realized in a single parallel program. Avian Computing extends parallel computing so it could include operating system functionality, so the same ideas and concepts would describe not just individual programs but all capabilities within a system. An Avian Computing Operating System would effectively be a “fractal system”, where the same behavior at the lowest level would be repeated at each higher level. It would be consistent from top to bottom, completely parallel and completely asynchronous.

It is chaos. It is unstructured and unpredictable. It behaves like real life. What’s not to love.

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