…right people – right place – right time!

Virtualisation and Hypervisor technology coming of age in new Embedded Engineering applications


21st April - Valencia.

Virtualisation and Hypervisor technologies are becoming increasingly popular in the tech sector. 

The growth of the embedded hypervisor market is particularly influenced by the growing use of this technology in the automotive sector, high implementation of embedded hypervisor software in the IT and telecommunications industry, rapid adoption of industrial automation and increasing demand for high-end technology in the aerospace and defence sector. Furthermore, increasing concern about cyber-attacks and usage of hypervisors in the emerging applications in the healthcare sector is expected to create more opportunities for this market in the years to come, to overcome threats. 

The benefits of Hypervisor technology 
In the context of a modern embedded systems, there is benefit of running multiple Operating Systems (OSes) on one piece of hardware, bearing in mind that this introduces significant complexity. The most important issue is security. A hypervisor provides a very strong layer of insulation and protection between the guest operating systems, ensuring that there is no possibility of one multi-threaded application interfering with another. A secondary, but still very significant, motivation to run multiple OSes is IP reuse. For example, If there is some important software IP available for Linux that you want to use in your design. However, your device is real time, so an RTOS makes better sense. Using a hypervisor is the way forward, so that you can run Linux and your RTOS at the same time.

There are 2 Types of Hypervisor technology:

TYPE-1 Hypervisor: 
The hypervisor runs directly on the underlying host system. It is also known as “Native Hypervisor” or “Bare metal hypervisor”. It does not require any base server operating system. It has direct access to hardware resources. Such kind of hypervisors are very efficient because they have direct access to the physical hardware resources (like Cpu, Memory, Network, Physical storage). This causes the empowerment the security because there is nothing any kind of the third party resource so that attacker couldn’t compromise with anything. 

 TYPE-2 Hypervisor: 
A Host operating system runs on the underlying host system. It is also known as ‘Hosted Hypervisor”. Such kind of hypervisors doesn’t run directly over the underlying hardware rather they run as an application in a Host system (physical machine). Basically, software installed on an operating system. Hosted hypervisors are often found on endpoints like PCs.  The type-2 hypervisor is are very useful for engineers, security analysts (for checking malware, or malicious source code and newly developed applications) and allows quick and easy access to a guest Operating System alongside the host machine running. The cons include performance issues and potential security risks where an attacker can compromise the security weakness if there is access to the host operating system so he can also access the guest operating system.


The appeal of Virtualisation and Hypervisor technology 
The act of migrating physical systems into a virtual environment means that the creation of a virtual version of a device or resource allowing you to turn one server into a host for a group of servers that all share the same resources. As a result you can instantly access nearly limitless computing resources which allow for faster and broader business capabilities. It also gets rid of haphazard IT rooms, cables, and bulky hardware; reducing your overall IT overhead as well as management costs.
Having multiple instances of virtual servers minimizes the impact of sudden downtime, which means system availability increases and companies can improve business continuity.
However, virtual machines (VMs) require the same kinds of precautions as physical machines, such as applying patches, installing anti-viral protocols, performing security fixes, and providing firewall protection. Hypervisor is the software layer designed to manage contention between processes that compete for resources. It allows the maximum performance possible for each guest VM and enables multiple operating systems to be run simultaneously on a single hardware platform.
They have been used for decades on mainframes, more recently on desktop computers, but are now beginning to be very relevant to embedded developers.
The most frequent use of Hypervisor technology are in applications for:

In this context, there is the possibility for infotainment software, instrument cluster control and telematics to all run on a single multicore chip. As a mixture of OSes is likely to be needed – RTOS for instrumentation and GPS and Linux for audio, for example – a hypervisor makes a lot of sense.

For industrial applications (factories, mines, power plants etc.) there is commonly a need for real time control (RTOS) and sophisticated networking (Linux). In addition, in recent years there has been an increasing concern about cyber-attacks on or other introduction of malware into control systems. A hypervisor is the ideal way to separate systems and maintain security.

Medical systems introduce some new challenges. Typically, there is a mixture of real-time (patient monitoring and treatment control) and non-real-time (data storage, networking and user interface) functionality, so a hypervisor initially looks attractive. The patient data confidentiality is critical, so the security side of a hypervisor becomes significant. Lastly, the ability to completely separate the parts of the system that require certification (normally the real time parts), make a hypervisor compelling.

The growing Embedded Hypervisor Market 
According to recent research by Market Reports, the global embedded hypervisor technology market has been witnessing a considerable growth over the last few years. It is expected to reach approximately USD 2,887.21 million by 2023, approx. 6.46% of CAGR between 2017 and 2023.

The market is highly competitive due to the presence of several prominent vendors. 

Whilst there is a growing application scope of embedded hypervisor technology in the transportation and automotive areas, the aerospace and defence sector is primed to implement next-generation systems enabled with high-end technologies for better functionality. Here they are looking to expand through provision of better performance on multi-technology platforms, enabling multiple applications for safety, easing the migration of legacy software. 
Aerospace engineers develop specific systems which operate on a single hardware and support legacy systems. Hypervisor technology will allow them new systems and legacy systems to operate on the same hardware, bringing major developments to the industry.


The rise of Virtualisation Security
Meanwhile The US virtualisation security market is expected to register a CAGR of about 14.4% during the forecast period 2021-2026. 
As US enterprises transform their businesses to improve their full digital potential including the cloud, in a lot of cases they are shifting to a virtual infrastructure. Virtualisation provides organizations the ability to process a large amount of data as well as gives access to better processing capabilities. However with this comes the threat of attack.  Virtualisation security solutions ensure a significant security level to restrict cyber-attack incidents in virtual infrastructures.
The growth of IoT is also presenting challenges related to information security, computing capacity, and data analysis, which increases the requirements of data centres to store and process data. It is estimated that there will be approximately 30 billion connected devices in the world by 2020. These devices include sensor systems to transmit and store data for analytics. It will therefore be essential to have the right virtualisation security solutions in place. 

The lack of skilled Labour hinders the market
However, lack of skilled labour and high infrastructure and maintenance cost are a few factors hindering the growth of the embedded hypervisor technology market. Also, elements such as high power and memory consumption, high infrastructure and maintenance cost are key contributors.

The ability to find the right skilled workforce to meet the future challenges of Virtualisation and Hypervisor implementation will be just one of the fundamental needs of many companies as they address new Embedded Engineering opportunities. However it takes expertise in the marketplace to find the right resource. Companies such as CIS have had over 20 years in the Embedded Engineering market seeking the best engineers to fit complex projects. To make sure your next project is covered, contact Richard McCullagh on richardm@cis-ee.com or +34 960 038 634.