The Expected Lifetime of “Single-Address-Space” Operating Systems


David Kotz and Preston Crow. The Expected Lifetime of “Single-Address-Space” Operating Systems. Technical Report number PCS-TR93-198, Dept. of Math and Computer Science, Dartmouth College, October 1993. ©Copyright the authors. Revised version appeared in SIGMETRICS ’94, and revised again on March 15, 1996. Later revised as kotz:addrtrace.


Trends toward shared-memory programming paradigms, large (64-bit) address spaces, and memory-mapped files have led some to propose the use of a single virtual-address space, shared by all processes and processors. To simplify address-space management, some have claimed that a 64-bit address space is sufficiently large that there is no need to ever re-use addresses. Unfortunately, there has been no data to either support or refute these claims, or to aid in the design of appropriate address-space management policies. In this paper, we present the results of extensive kernel-level tracing of the workstations on our campus, and discuss the implications for single-address-space operating systems. We found that single-address-space systems will probably not outgrow the available address space, but only if reasonable space-allocation policies are used, and only if the system can adapt as larger address spaces become available.

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