Capability Boehm: Challenges and Opportunities for Garbage Collection with Capability Hardware

Jacob, D. and Singer, J. (2022) Capability Boehm: Challenges and Opportunities for Garbage Collection with Capability Hardware. In: 18th ACM SIGPLAN/SIGOPS International Conference on Virtual Execution Environments, 1 March 2022, pp. 81-87. ISBN 9781450392518 (doi: 10.1145/3516807.3516823)

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The Boehm-Demers-Weiser Garbage Collector (BDWGC) is a widely used, production-quality memory management framework for C and C++ applications. In this work, we describe our experiences in adapting BDWGC for modern capability hardware, in particular the CHERI system, which provides guarantees about memory safety due to runtime enforcement of fine-grained pointer bounds and permissions. Although many libraries and applications have been ported to CHERI already, to the best of our knowledge this is the first analysis of the complexities of transferring a garbage collector to CHERI. We describe various challenges presented by the CHERI micro-architectural constraints, along with some significant opportunities for runtime optimization. Since we do not yet have access to capability hardware, we present a limited study of software event counts on emulated micro-benchmarks. This experience report should be helpful to other systems implementors as they attempt to support the ongoing CHERI initiative.

Item Type:Conference Proceedings
Additional Information:This work was supported by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council grant number EP/V000349/1 as part of the Digital Security by Design (DSbD) programme.
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Singer, Dr Jeremy and Jacob, Dr Dejice
Authors: Jacob, D., and Singer, J.
College/School:College of Science and Engineering > School of Computing Science
Published Online:25 February 2022
Copyright Holders:Copyright © 2022 Association for Computing Machinery
Publisher Policy:Reproduced in accordance with the publisher copyright policy
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Project CodeAward NoProject NamePrincipal InvestigatorFunder's NameFunder RefLead Dept
310130Capable VMsJeremy SingerEngineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC)EP/V000349/1Computing Science